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Technology isn’t the Problem, We Are: 5 Horrific Website Popup Examples

It’s Day 5 of Product Marketing Month. Today I get to bash some really bad popup examples. Yuss! — Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner

But before I bring the heat, I want to talk a bit about what it’s like, as a product marketer, to be marketing something that’s difficult to market.

You see, there’s a common problem that many marketers face, and it’s also one of the most asked questions I hear when I’m on the road, as a speaker:

“How do I great marketing for a boring product or service?”

That’s a tough challenge for sure, although the good news is that if you can inject some originality you’ll be a clear winner, as all of your competitors are also boring. However, I think I can one-up that problem:

“How do I do great marketing for something that’s universally hated, like popups?”

We knew we had a big challenge ahead of us when we decided to release the popups product because of the long legacy of manipulative abuse it carries with it.

In fact, as the discussion about product direction began in the office, there were some visceral (negative) reactions from some folks on the engineering team. They feared that we were switching over to the dark side.

It makes sense to me that this sentiment would come from developers. In my experience, really good software developers have one thing in common. They want to make a difference in the world. Developers are makers by design, and part of building something is wanting it to have a positive impact on those who use it.

To quell those types of fears requires a few things;

  • Education about the positive use cases for the technology,
  • Evidence in the form of good popup examples, showcasing how to use them in a delightful and responsible manner,
  • Features such as advanced triggers & targeting to empower marketers to deliver greater relevance to visitors,
  • And most important of all – it requires us to take a stance. We can’t change the past unless we lead by example.

It’s been my goal since we started down this path, to make it clear that we are drawing a line in the sand between the negative past, and a positive future.

Which is why we initially launched with the name “Overlays” instead of popups.

Overlays vs. Popups – The End of an Era

It made a lot of sense at the time, from a branding perspective. Through podcast interviews and public speaking gigs, I was trying to change the narrative around popups. Whenever I was talking about a bad experience, I would call it a popup. When it was a positive (and additive) experience, I’d call it an overlay. It was a really good way to create a clear separation.

I even started to notice more and more people calling them overlays. Progress.

Unfortunately, it would still require a lot of continued education to make a dent in the global perception of the terminology, that with the search volume for “overlays” being tiny compared to popups, factored heavily into our decision to pivot back to calling a popup a popup.

Positioning is part of a product marketer’s job – our VP of Product Marketing, Ryan Engley recently completed our most recent positioning document for the new products. Just as the umbrella term “Convertables” we had been using to include popups and sticky bars had created confusion, “Overlays” was again making the job harder than it should have been. You can tell, just from reading this paragraph alone that it’s a complex problem, and we’re moving in the right direction by re-simplifying.

The biggest challenge developing our positioning was the number of important strategic questions that we needed to answer first. The market problems we solve, for who, how our product fits today with our vision for the future, who we see ourselves competing with, whether we position ourselves as a comprehensive platform that solves a unique problem, or whether we go to market with individual products and tools etc. It’s a beast of an undertaking.

My biggest lightbulb moment was working with April Dunford who pushed me to get away from competing tool-to-tool with other products. She said in order to win that way, you’d have to be market leading in every tool, and that won’t happen. So what’s the unique value that only you offer and why is it important?

— Ryan Engley, VP Product Marketing at Unbounce

You can read more about our initial product adoption woes, and how our naming conventions hurt us, in the first post in the series – Product Marketing Month: Why I’m Writing 30 Blog Posts in 30 Days.

Let’s get back to the subject of popups. I think it’s important to look back at the history of this device to better understand how they came about, and why they have always caused such a stir.

Browser Interaction Models & the History of the Popup

The talk I was doing much of last year was called Data-Driven Design. As part of the talk, I get into interaction design trends. I’ve included the “Trendline” slide below.

You can see that the first occurrence of a popup was back in 1998. Also, note that I included Overlays in late 2016 when we first started that discussion.

Like many bad trends, popups began as web developers started trying to hack browser behavior to create different interruptive interaction modes. I know I made a lot of them back in the day, but I was always doing it to try to create a cool experience. For example, I was building a company Intranet and wanted to open up content in a new window, resize it, and stick it to the side of the screen as a sidebar navigation for the main window. That was all good stuff.

Tabbed browsers have done a lot to help clean up the mess of multiple windows, and if you couple that with popup blockers, there’s a clear evolution in how this type of behavior is being dealt with.

Then came the pop-under, often connected to Malware virus schemes where malicious scripts could be running in the background and you wouldn’t even know.

And then the always fun “Are you sure you want to do that?” Inception-like looping exit dialogs.

Developers/hackers took the simple Javascript modal “Ok” “Cancel” and abused it to the point where there was no real way out of the page. If you tried to leave the page one modal would lead to another, and another, and you couldn’t actually close the browser window/tab unless you could do it within the split second between one dialog closing and the next opening. It was awful.

So we have a legacy of abuse that’s killed the perception of popups.

What if Popups Had Been Built Into Browsers?

Imagine for a moment that a popup was simply one of many available interaction models available in the browsing experience. They could have had a specification from the W3C, with a set of acceptable criteria for display modes. It would be an entirely different experience. Sure, there would still be abuse, but it’s an interesting thought.

This is why it’s important that we (Unbounce and other like-minded marketers and Martech software providers) take a stance, and build the right functionality into this type of tool so that it can be used responsibly.

Furthermore, we need to keep the dialog going, to educate the current and future generations of marketers that to be original, be delightful, be a business that represents themselves as professionals, means taking responsibility for our actions and doing everything we can to take the high road in our marketing.

Alright, before I get to the really bad website popup examples, I’ll leave you with this thought:

Technology is NOT the problem, We Are.

It’s the disrespectful and irresponsible marketers who use manipulative pop-psychology tactics for the sake of a few more leads, who are the problem. We need to stop blaming popups for bad experiences, and instead, call out the malicious marketers who are ruining it for those trying to do good work.

It’s a tough challenge to reverse years of negative perception, but that’s okay. It’s okay because we know the value the product brings to our customers, how much extra success they’re having, and because we’ve built a solution that can be configured in precise ways that make it simple to use in a responsible manner (if you’re a good person).


Follow our Product Marketing Month journey >> click here to launch a popup with a subscribe form (it uses our on-click trigger feature).


5 Really Bad Website Popup Examples

What does a bad popup actually look like? Well, it depends on your judging criteria, and for the examples below, I was considering these seven things, among others:

  1. Clarity: Is it easy to figure out the offer really quickly?
  2. Relevance: Is it related to the content of the current page?
  3. Manipulation: Does it use psychological trickery in the copy?
  4. Design: Is it butt ugly?
  5. Control: Is it clear what all options will do?
  6. Escape: Can you get rid of it easily?
  7. Value: Is the reward worth more than the perceived (or actual) effort?

#1 – Mashable Shmashable

What’s so bad about it?

If you peer into the background behind the popup, you’ll see a news story headline that begins with “Nightmare Alert”. I think that’s a pretty accurate description of what’s happening here.

  • Design: Bad. The first thing I saw looks like a big mistake. The Green line with the button hanging off the bottom looks like the designer fell asleep with their head on the mouse.
  • Clarity: Bad. And what on earth does the headline mean? click.click.click. Upon deeper exploration, it’s the name of the newsletter, but that’s not apparent at all on first load.
  • Clarity: worse. Then we get the classic “Clear vs. Clever” headline treatment. Why are you talking about the pronunciation of the word “Gif”? Tell me what this is, and why I should care to give you my email.
  • Design: Bad. Also, that background is gnarly.

#2 – KAM Motorsports Revolution!

What’s so bad about it?

It’s motorsports. It’s not a revolution. Unless they’re talking about wheels going round in circles.

  • Clarity: Bad. The headline doesn’t say what it is, or what I’ll get by subscribing. I have to read the fine print to figure that out.
  • Copy: Bad. Just reading the phrase “abuse your email” is a big turn off. Just like the word spam, I wasn’t thinking that you were going to abuse me, but now it’s on my mind.
  • Relevance: Bad. Newsletter subscription popups are great, they have a strong sense of utility and can give people exactly what they want. But I don’t like them as entry popups. They’re much better when they use an exit trigger, or a scroll trigger. Using a “Scroll Up” trigger is smart because it means they’ve read some of your content, and they are scrolling back up vs. leaving directly, which is another micro-signal that they are interested.

#3 – Utterly Confused


(Source unknown – I found it on confirmshaming.tumblr.com)

What’s so bad about it?

I have no earthly clue what’s going on here.

  • Clarity: Bad. I had to re-read it five times before I figured out what was going on.
  • Control: Bad. After reading it, I didn’t know whether I would be agreeing with what they’re going to give me, or with the statement. It’s like an affirmation or something. But I have no way of knowing what will happen if I click either button. My best guess after spending this much time writing about it is that it’s a poll. But a really meaningless one if it is. Click here to find out how many people agreed with “doing better”…
  • It ends with “Do Better”. I agree. They need to do a lot better.

#4 – Purple Nurple

What’s so bad about it?

  • Manipulation: Bad. Our first “Confirm Shaming” example. Otherwise known as “Good Cop / Bad Cop”. Forcing people to click a button that says “Detest” on it is so incongruent with the concept of a mattress company that I think they’re just being cheap. There’s no need to speak to people that way.
  • I found a second popup example by Purple (below), and have to give them credit. The copy on this one is significantly more persuasive. Get this. If you look at the section I circled (in purple), it says that if you subscribe, they’ll keep you up to date with SHIPPING TIMES!!! Seriously? If you’re going to email me and say “Hey Oli, great news! We can ship you a mattress in 2 weeks!”, I’ll go to Leesa, or Endy, or one of a million other Casper copycats.


#5 – Hello BC

What’s so bad about it?

Context: This is an entry popup, and I have never been to this site before.

  • Relevance: Bad. The site is Hellobc.com, the title says “Supernatural British Columbia”, and the content on the page is about skydiving. So what list is this for? And nobody wants to be on a “list”, stop saying “list”. It’s like saying email blast. Blast your list. If you read the first sentence it gets even more confusing, as you’ll be receiving updates from Destination BC. That’s 4 different concepts at play here.
  • Design: Bad. It’s legitimately butt ugly. I mean, come on. This is for Beautiful Supernatural British Columbia ffs. It’s stunning here. Show some scenery to entice me in.
  • Value: Bad. Seeing that form when I arrive on the page is like a giant eff you. Why do they think it’s okay to ask for that much info, with that much text.
  • Control: Bad. And there’s not any error handling. However, the submit button remains inactive until you magically click the right amount of options to trigger it’s hungry hungry hippo mouth to open.

Trainwreck.


Well, that’s all for today, folks. You might be wondering why there were so few popup examples in this post, keep reading and I’ll explain why.

Coming Up Tomorrow – Good Popups, YAY!!!

One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed of late is that there is a shift in quality happening in the popup world. When the team rallied to find the bad popup examples above, we found at least 10x as many good ones as bad. That’s something to feel pretty good about. Perhaps the positive energy we’re helping to spread is having an impact.

So get your butt back here tomorrow to see 20+ delightful website popup examples. More importantly, I’ll also be sharing “The Delight Equation”, my latest formula for measuring quantifying how good your popups really are.

See you then!

Cheers
Oli

p.s. Don’t forget to subscribe to the weekly updates.

Excerpt from: 

Technology isn’t the Problem, We Are: 5 Horrific Website Popup Examples

Is Success Down To The Quality Of Your Work?

One of the biggest fallacies of our industry is that good work speaks for itself. It is a self-delusional lie that those with a good reputation tell themselves to explain their success.
Success means many things to many people. Some think it is getting to work on projects they love; others believe it is earning a lot of money, still others consider it is getting to spend more time with the family.

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Is Success Down To The Quality Of Your Work?

6 Reasons Your Mobile Ranking on Google Sucks

drinking straws

2017 will forever be known as the year Google adopted a mobile-first strategy. Some people will think of that way, at least. Probably not too many, actually, but that doesn’t lessen the significance of the shift. Your mobile web strategy is now, simply, your web strategy. Why is this so important? By late 2016, more than half of all Google searches were conducted from mobile devices, and over 77% of web searches are through Google. So when the company announced this year it would prioritize mobile sites over desktop to determine relevance and ranking, it was kind of a big…

The post 6 Reasons Your Mobile Ranking on Google Sucks appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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6 Reasons Your Mobile Ranking on Google Sucks

Inspiring Illustrations With Plenty Of Bright Colors And Cool Patterns

It’s almost time to leave winter behind us here in the Northern Hemisphere. Most of the time, the weather can’t quite make up its mind, and so the days pass by with half of the sky sunny while the other half gray. Nature usually tends to have a strong impact on my mood, and so these days I feel like I’m literally in a gray zone — between winter and spring.

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Inspiring Illustrations With Plenty Of Bright Colors And Cool Patterns

Disrupting the norm: 4 ways to tap into your team’s creativity

Reading Time: 6 minutes

It’s easy to get stuck in a work routine.

To go to the office every Monday to Friday, use a particular set of skills, sit at the same desk, talk to the same team members, eat at the same lunch spot…

While routine can be a stabilizing force, it can also lead to stagnation and a lack of inspiration (a worrisome situation for any marketer).

Companies take great care to put structures in place to improve productivity and efficiency, but too often de-prioritize creativity. And yet, creativity is essential to driving innovation and competition—two vital components of business growth.

At WiderFunnel, we believe in the Zen Marketing mindset. This mindset recognizes that there is an intuitive, inspired, exploratory side to marketing that imagines potential insights, as well as a qualitative, logical, data-driven side that proves whether the insights really work.

In order to come up with the very best ideas to test, you must have room to get creative.

So, how can you make creativity a priority at your company?

Last month, the WiderFunnel team set out to answer that question for ourselves. We went on a retreat to one of British Columbia’s most beautiful islands, with the goal of learning how to better tap into and harness our creativity, as individuals and as a team.

creativity_setting
It’s hard to not be creative with a view like this.

We spent three days trying to unleash our creative sides, and the tactics we brought back to the office have had exciting effects! In this post, I’m going to share four strategies that we have put into practice at WiderFunnel to help our team get creative, that you can replicate in your company today.

As Jack London said,

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

An introduction to creativity

There are many ways to think about creativity, but for our purposes, let’s consider the two types of creativity: technical creativity and artistic creativity. The former refers to the creation of new theories, new technologies, and new ideas. The latter revolves around skills, technique, and self-expression.

As a company, we were focused on tapping into technical creativity on our retreat. One of the main elements of technical creativity is lateral thinking.

Your brain recognizes patterns: faces, language, handwriting. This is beneficial in that you can recognize an object or a situation very quickly (you see a can of Coke and you know exactly what it is without having to analyze it).

But, we can get stuck in our patterns. We think within patterns. We problem-solve within patterns. Often, the solutions we come up with are based on solutions we’ve already come up with to similar problems. And we do this without really knowing that our solutions belong to other patterns.

Lateral thinking techniques can help you bust out of this…well…pattern.

While structured, disciplined thinking is vital to making your products and services better, lateral thinking can help you come up with completely new concepts and unexpected solutions.

The following 4 tactics will help you think laterally at work, to find truly original solutions to problems.

1. Put on a different (thinking) hat

One of our first activities on the island was to break into groups and tackle an internal company challenge with the six thinking hats. Developed by Edward de Bono, the “six thinking hats” is a tool for group discussion and individual thinking.

The idea behind the six hats is that our brains think in distinct ways that we can deliberately challenge. Each hat represents a direction in which the brain can be challenged. When you ‘put on a different hat’, your brain will identify and bring into conscious thought certain aspects of the problem you’re trying to solve, according to your hat.

6-hats-creativity
The Six Thinking Hats.

None of these hats represent completely natural ways of thinking, but rather how some of us already represent the results of our thinking.

In our exercise, we began a discussion each wearing one of the six hats. As the conversation progressed, we were forced to switch hats and continue our discussion from entirely different perspectives. It was uncomfortable and challenging, but the different hats forced each of us to explore the problem in a way that was totally alien.

creativity_thinkinghats
Before we could have our discussion, we had to make our own thinking hats.
Our thinking cards.
Our thinking cards.

The outcome was exciting: people who are normally quiet were forced to manage a discussion, people who are normally incredulous were forced to be optimistic, people who are normally dreamers were forced to ask for facts…it opened up totally new doors within the discussion.

In WiderFunnel’s main meeting room, there are six cards that represent each of the six hats. Whenever I find myself stuck, dealing with a challenge I can’t seem to solve, I wander into that meeting room and try to tackle the problem ‘wearing each hat’. Disrupting my normal thinking patterns often leads to ‘A-ha!’ moments.

To encourage lateral thinking, you could: create something physical and tangible (cards, hats, etc.) that your team can utilize when they are stuck to challenge the ‘normal’ ways in which they think.

2. Solve puzzles (literally)

A man jumps out of a window of a 30-story building. He falls all the way to the ground and lands on solid concrete with nothing to cushion his fall, yet he is completely uninjured. How is this possible?

There are 20 birds on a fence. A woman shoots one of the birds. How many birds are left?

There is an egg carton holding a dozen eggs on a table. Twelve people take one egg each, but there is still one egg left in the carton. How?

During our retreat, we spent some time solving word problems just like these, in order to disrupt our day-to-day thinking patterns.

creativity_puzzle
A recently completed WiderFunnel puzzle!

Riddles like these challenge our brains because they are difficult to think through using straightforward logic. Instead, you have to think outside of the content within the puzzle and use your knowledge of language and experience to solve it.

Puzzles require you to use reasoning that is not immediately obvious, and involve ideas that you may not arrive at using traditional step-by-step logic.

When you are faced with a puzzle like one of the riddles above, your mind is forced to think critically about something you might otherwise dismiss or fail to understand completely.

The thinking involved in solving puzzles can be characterized as a blend of imaginative association and memory. It is this blend…that leads us to literally see the pattern or twist that a puzzle conceals. It is a kind of “clairvoyance” that typically provokes an Aha! effect.

– Marcel Danesai, Ph.D. in “Puzzles and the Brain

To encourage creative, critical thinking, you could: incorporate puzzles into your day-to-day. Email your team a word problem every morning, or set up a physical puzzle somewhere in your office, so that people can take puzzle breaks!

3. Unpack your assumptions

Often, when we are faced with a question or problem, we have already classified that question or problem by its perceived limitations or rules. For example, you have assumptions about your users (most likely backed by data!) about what they want and need, what their pain points are, etc.

But, these assumptions, even if they are correct, can sometimes blind you to other possibilities. Unpacking your assumptions involves examining all of your assumptions, and then flipping them upside down. This can be tough because our assumptions are often deeply ingrained.

On the island, WiderFunnel-ers listed out all of our assumptions about what our clients want. At the top of that list was an assumption about what every marketer wants: to increase ROI. When we flipped that assumption, however, we were left with a hypothetical situation in which our clients don’t care at all about ROI.

creativity_assumptions
Various WiderFunnel-ers unpacking their assumptions.

All of a sudden, we were asking questions about what we might be able to offer our clients that has nothing to do with increasing ROI. While this hypothetical is an extreme, it forced us to examine all of the other areas where we might be able to help our clients.

To encourage creative problem-solving, you could: advise your team to list out all of their assumptions about a problem, flip ‘em, and then look for the middle ground.

4. Think of the dumbest idea you possibly can

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

– Sylvia Plath

To wrap up day 1 of our retreat, we did an activity called Dumbest Idea First. We walked around in a circle in the sunshine, shouting out the dumbest ideas we could think of about how to encourage more creativity at WiderFunnel.

The circle was quiet at first. Because being dumb, sounding dumb, looking dumb is scary. But, after a few people yelled out some really, really dumb ideas, everyone got into it. We were all moving, and making ridiculous suggestions, and in the midst of it all, one person would shout out a gem of an idea.

For instance, someone suggested a ‘brainstorm bubble’: a safe space within the office where you can go when you’re stuck, and your co-workers can see you and join you in the bubble to help you brainstorm.

(We have since started doing this at the office and it has been awesome!)

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes limit myself during a brainstorm—I find myself trying to be creative while still being pragmatic.

But, when you give yourself permission to be dumb, all of a sudden the possibilities are endless. And I guarantee you will surprise yourself with the great ideas you stumble upon.

Encourage creativity by allowing yourself and your team time and space to be unapologetically dumb.

What are some of the strategies you use to keep things creative at your company? Have you tried or improved upon any of the aforementioned strategies? Let us know in the comments!

The post Disrupting the norm: 4 ways to tap into your team’s creativity appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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Disrupting the norm: 4 ways to tap into your team’s creativity

Client Experience Design

Let’s be honest: We designers can be difficult to work with. We might come from a controversial company culture, work an unconventional schedule or get impatient whenever our Internet connection is slower than the speed of light. Would you be at ease with a service provider who matches this description?
When talking to potential clients, be aware that many will have never solicited a professional design service and likely have little understanding of the design process itself.

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Client Experience Design

Inspiring Everyday Graphic Design Articles

The most inspirational things are often right in front of us. It might be the typography on a book cover, the colors of your favorite music album, the opening titles in that movie you saw yesterday. To celebrate all those little moments of inspiration, we have compiled some resources for you which honor the beauty of everyday graphic design and the ideas behind it. Perfect to squeeze into a short coffee break.

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Inspiring Everyday Graphic Design Articles

Desktop Wallpaper Calendars: August 2013

We always try our best to challenge your artistic abilities and produce some interesting, beautiful and creative artwork. And as designers we usually turn to different sources of inspiration. As a matter of fact, we’ve discovered the best one—desktop wallpapers that are a little more distinctive than the usual crowd.
This creativity mission has been going on for over five years now, and we are very thankful to all the designers who have contributed and are still diligently contributing each month.

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Desktop Wallpaper Calendars: August 2013

Why Won’t Helvetica Go Away?

Update: Hours after the publication of this article Indra Kupferschmid published an article in which she corrected some of the facts presented in the original article and provided an opposite view on the issue. We republished Indra’s article to correct the factual errors, with her permission of course. Make sure to check the corrections before reading this article.—Ed.
The other day someone sent me a link to a website with the preposterous title of “The 100 Best Typefaces of All Time”.

Originally posted here – 

Why Won’t Helvetica Go Away?

Creative Use of Video in Web Design: Background Videos

Since its early days, video has been one of the most powerful and efficient tools of visual communication. It is able to deliver a direct and clear message to a broad audience as well as focus viewers on something particular. A visually appealing video is an excellent way to present a product, service or brand and take user experience to a much more interactive level. For this reason, elegant, creative and professional videos are becoming increasingly popular in Web design today.

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Creative Use of Video in Web Design: Background Videos