How companies can help their users write Liquid expressions themselves.
If you're reading this post, then chances are you have a company that uses Shopify's Liquid technology, but you're struggling to get your customers to actually use the tools that you've given them. This can be extremely frustrating for the product owner that introduced the feature, and demoralizing to the software engineer that actually built it out (as a software engineer myself, I know the pain when people don't use the things that you build).
Since Liquid comes out of the box without any UI, it is up to each individual company to determine how they want to help and support their users to understand how to use Liquid within their application. In this post, I'll list several ways that I've seen companies help their users to write Liquid themselves.
Your company should be writing documentation for as much functionality and features your application has as possible. This is especially true for parts of the application, such as Liquid, that are highly technical. This will give your users a place to learn about how they can use Liquid within your application, and will also give you a place to send them when they ask a question that is documented.
Documentation is a must have and will go a long way, but the best applications are the ones that help their users at the time they have a need. Give your customers tools directly in your user interface where they will be writing Liquid (Bonus points for including a link to the documentation also). Imagine your customer's delight if your application pops in with the right information at the right time, and saves them from doing the research and work themselves.
If you're a programmer yourself, you know first-hand how valuable having an example to follow can be. The best documentation in the world can still leave people feeling confused and intimidated when they have a blank slate staring back at them. Let your customers know that you're there to help by providing them examples of what is possible to access through Liquid.
Giving users a way to test the Liquid that they write is a vital step in implementing Liquid to give users the confidence that their Liquid will work. This can sometimes take some creativity depending on how your application uses Liquid. As with programming, quick iteration cycles is the key to writing working code quickly. The longer it takes to test a Liquid expression a single time, the longer it will take to make it work in the event you don't get it working correctly the first time.
Give your users the confidence they need to write Liquid with these four simple steps. You will see your Liquid related help desk tickets go down, and more importantly you will see your customer's happiness increase. Liquid is an extremely important and powerful feature of your application, but only if your customers know how to actually use it!
A before and after look at the end user experience of writing Liquid expressions with and without Dropkiq.