Update #6 | Looking back
August 2021 was a special moment. We had completed the Wooting two HE production without any major issues and had everything on its way to our warehouses. Batch 2 would come in a little latest due to the IC supply, but nonetheless, we were ready to round up a large chapter in the Wooting book.
September, October, now November. No blog updates, but boy, a lot of email and Discord updates concerning the Wooting two HE.
Ocean freight was hitting a lot of issues causing delays, especially heading towards Europe. This delayed ocean freight for both batch 1 and 2 to Europe (orders starting INT) by a month. No fun at all.
It was even less fun for new members to get up to date with all the context and what to expect from their order. We had done our best to frequently update Discord's stock_updates channel, email direct with status, and reply timely when status was asked.
Now we've almost completed all the Batch 1 and 2 deliveries for the Wooting two HE. There are only Batch 2 ocean freight orders (starting INT) pending. Then we'll only have ISO models in stock on our Europe/International store. All the ANSI models on both the Europe/International as our North American store are sold out.
The pre-orders for the ANSI model are now for the following production that'll include pre-installed Wooting double-shot PBT keycaps. Shipments for, what is essentially, batch 3 are estimated to happen in April.
It's time to reflect on the entire journey.
Road to launch
The Wooting two Lekker Edition (LE) was the Wooting two HE predecessor. We had to finish this model before we could even manufacture the HE. We had a non-stop roller coaster of challenges with the LE that caused humongous delays and had us open a new mold, change switch manufacturer, and assembly manufacturer. If you're in a reading mood, you can read the entire journey on the project page
We had sold out the Wooting two LE in May 2020 and for the sake of our business, we really had to launch the Wooting two HE. But we made an internal decision to withhold launch until we felt confident that we could deliver on the Wooting two LE. That didn't happen until 5 months later when we launched the Wooting two HE pre-orders.
The HE pre-order launch wasn't with much fan flare, but it did what it had to do. It continued the sales for the good of our business and ensured we could continue development with confidence. All the while, the pandemic was a growing pain.
Once we entered 2021 and had manufacturer the Wooting two LE, we had to make a difficult decision. We had decided already to continue the Wooting two LE production with one flaw, the top plate could not install entirely flush onto the bottom case.
This flaw had no impact on performance, but it was also not ideal. At the time, we were not sure if we could find any solution to the problem. With the original Wooting two, this problem was present but minor and solved at the assembly line. Now we had a modified mold that amplified the issue and a new manufacturer that wasn't familiar or comfortable tackling this at the assembly line.
We decided to hold off on the Wooting two HE production in favor of spending an additional 3 months on solving the issue. Which we did. Additional cost and delay, but worth it. The Wooting two HE needed to produce in larger quantities and we couldn't accept this to become a "thing" or standard that we'd adhere to or repeat in the future.
The above can be explained in a nutshell: Development challenges. If I was put back into the situation without hindsight and more experienced, I don't believe the decision making process would have been that different. I'm confident about our decision making process and embrace that not everything can be perfect.
This was exceptionally challenging with the Lekker switch development. Start of 2020 we had basically decided to cut our losses on 80% of the development we had made and focus on a new plan of approach without any guarantee it would succeed.
Looking back, I'm proud we were able to make that decision and pull through. The power to cut your losses and the ability to always move forward is what makes us.
Even if you go back to the start of Wooting, when we developed the Wooting one with Flaretech switches, we also had to face an immensely difficult situation with absolutely no guarantee it would work out. The first Wooting one production flunked, we created an Analog testing machine and thankfully succeeded on the second try. We have it all recorded in the Wooting one production vlogs season 01 and season 02.
That said, we should have never even started the Wooting two LE and then HE. Instead, we should have made it a completely new keyboard model. I can't say with complete confidence that we had that luxury at that time; starting a completely new model is extremely challenging. Besides we didn't have Kevin yet nor a budget that could cover both a new model and Lekker switch development. The latter is a risk factor that could easily go over budget.
Moving forward, I wouldn't repeat that decision. We're now in a much better position to decide on a new model and raise the required budget.
Keeping you up to date
Communication is difficult. Communicate too much; people will ignore you. Communicate too little; people will feel abandoned.
The Wooting two HE utilized all our communication vehicles and methods. But the frequency and accessibility to the latest information became lacking nearing the shipment date. A bit messy you can say. Let me explain.
There's a few places of communication at Wooting. Email, Discord, and blogs. The blogs are the main vehicle for major updates, such as with the Wooting two HE on the Wooting two HE update page.
These updates ended after the production ended and shipment estimates were shared. From this point, it's a logistics matter that has less in-depth information, differences per order/region, and it's repetitive.
That's why these updates are continued per email and Discord.
For some the frequency and clarity of the information were great, for others it was insufficient. This could be different reasons, emails that didn't reach people, preferably not go to Discord for information, or not cutting to the chase.
On our side it also became increasingly difficult to keep pushing out frequent updates, receiving repetitive customer tickets (what's the status), and Discord questions.
We were not unfamiliar with the situation but didn't have the chance before to make significant improvements…
We had time to critically look at how we can do the next project (Wooting 60HE) better. Modern practices, open communication, and transparency. The core is on our about page.
Rich product page. The product page has an up-to-date timeline page, detailed product information, a transparent about page, and open comments section. We hope that all information can easily be found on the page.
OrderHub When an order is placed for the Wooting 60HE, you can now create a Wooting account to log in to the OrderHub. This is where you can (optional) link Discord to automatically receive your Discord roles and see detailed order information incl. any requested changes.
This will soon transform into a more elaborate hub that will help you quickly find and manage your information, receive better support, and make changes to your order.
The hub is also a method for us to provide a better service for custom events or situations that require any type of form input and ownership verification. An example already is the "Name on the box" (your name on the 60HE packaging). In the hub, you can find a preview of the name that will show and allow you to change your selection.
Major update We started to use video with a written summary as a new format for major updates. We hope this will make it easier to digest and still allow you to (re)read detailed information that gets to the point. This also helps lower down my personal time spent on elaborate written updates (difficult to delegate parts and time consuming).
Minor status updates We set up a new email service that allows us to send simple direct emails to an individual or a large group of orders. This will make it faster and easier to directly communicate about order status information and possible order issues. This is also used as a notification when a major update is out on one of your pending pre-orders.
Request order status with order number. (work in progress) Not everybody wants to have an account or wants to log in somewhere to find their order status information. That's why we're going to update the existing Batch checker tool (outdated) to apply to all orders while keeping information anonymous.
This will replace or complement the Discord stock_updates channel. By inputting an order number, you'll immediately get to see the batch name of your items and the latest information on that batch.
We're not at a spot I want to see us yet, but we're getting closer by the day. A lot of the ideas we have, take a while to implement because we're a small team responsible for a broad amount of tasks. It also happens to be that we prefer building a lot ourselves. We learn the most out of it, it allows us to create custom experiences, and keeps things in our control.
I'm looking forward to the Wooting 60HE journey, delivering, and 2022 in general. We have a lot of productions planned and I really hope we can have stock and breakthrough with sales. Then we can grow the team, build more, faster, and continue to enjoy what we do.
Co-founder & CEO