Tag Archives: general

Copyright Law Basics For UK Software Developers

Software developers all over the world can benefit from an increased understanding of intellectual property (IP) laws and how those laws may affect their work. Software programs are often complex works that include both functional and artistic elements and may be covered by a variety of different types of IP laws. This can be very confusing for those who haven’t been taught about IP and can cause them to miss out on opportunities to protect their own work or to accidentally infringe on the work of another.

The purpose of this article is to provide information about one type of IP law, copyright law, for software developers who live or work in the United Kingdom. Below we will discuss the definition of copyright law, the source of UK copyright law, and how it applies to technological works. I’ll also elaborate on what is not covered by copyright law, as well as the UK concepts of fair dealing and moral rights as they are related to copyright law.

Copyright Law Essentials

You can learn more about copyright law in general and about how it applies to software in my previous article. Go to article →

What Is Copyright Law?

Copyright law is a type of intellectual property law that protects creative works, which can include things like plays, movies, drawings, songs, and many other things. Around the world, copyright laws give the authors or creators of literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic works the right to control the ways in which their material may be used. With regard to software, copyright law generally covers the artistic elements of a software program as opposed to the functional elements.

What Is The Source Of Copyright Law In The UK?

Copyright law originated in the United Kingdom from a concept of common law; the Statute of Anne 1709. It became statutory with the passing of the Copyright Act 1911. The current act is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988. Those interested can read the full text here.

The relevant government office for copyright inquiries is the UK Intellectual Property Office. The UK is also a signatory to the Berne Convention, an international agreement concerning copyright law that has been adopted by 172 countries worldwide.

How Does UK Copyright Law Apply Specifically To Technological Works?

Copyright law can apply to all kinds of technological works that are used with computers, tablets, smartphones, or video game systems. This includes apps, computer programs, databases, spreadsheets, screen displays, and even virtual reality environments. Copyright also applies to works that are used or distributed on the internet like websites, blogs, and other online content. In the UK, computer programs are specifically protected as literary works.

Throughout the European Union, the Computer Programs Directive provides guidance regarding the legal protection of computer programs. The Copyright (Computer Programs) Regulations of 1992 extended the rules covering literary works to include computer programs in other European countries as well.

What Is Not Covered By UK Copyright Law?

Copyright law in the UK, as elsewhere, does not protect ideas, procedures, methods of operations, or mathematical concepts (though other types of IP may protect them under certain circumstances). In other words, copyright law is about protecting a particular expression of an idea, not the idea itself, and not functional elements of a work. Additionally, names, titles, short phrases, and colors are not generally considered unique or substantial enough to be covered by copyright law. However, a work that combines some of the elements, such as a logo or design, could possibly be eligible for copyright (and perhaps trademark) protection.

How Long Does Copyright Protection In The UK Last?

Because the UK is a signatory to the Berne Convention which covered this issue, a copyright in the UK will typically be protected for either the life of the author plus 70 years from the death of the author or, for published works, for 70 years from the date of first publication. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, and each work should be treated on a case-by-case basis if there are any doubts.

One notable UK-specific exception has to do with the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan. Author J.M. Barrie gifted all of the rights to his creation to a children’s hospital in London. When the original copyright expired in 1987, an extension was added to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 mentioned above so that the hospital could continue to collect royalties based on uses of the work (though the hospital has no creative control over how the work is used). Ultimately, this is only an unusual — and perhaps endearingly British — exception to the normal copyright term.

Photo by Christian Battaglia on Unsplash. (Large preview)

What Is Fair Dealing?

The copyright laws of almost all countries allow exceptions for certain permitted uses of copyrighted works such as news reporting, educational uses, or where the use of the work is de minimus. In the United States, one can assert a “fair use” defense if accused of infringing a copyright if the use was due to one of these permitted activities. In the UK, these permitted activities fall under the legal concept known as “fair dealing.” According to the University of Nottingham, eligible activities which can be conducted without infringing a copyrighted work include:

  • Private and research study purposes;
  • Performance, copies or lending for educational purposes;
  • Criticism and news reporting;
  • Incidental inclusion;
  • Copies and lending by librarians;
  • Format shifting or back up of a work you own for personal use;
  • Caricature, parody or pastiche;
  • Acts for the purposes of royal commissions, statutory enquiries, judicial proceedings and parliamentary purposes;
  • Recording of broadcasts for the purposes of listening to or viewing at a more convenient time;
  • Producing a back-up copy for personal use of a computer program.

How Does “Fair Dealing” Affect Technology Copyrights In The UK?

The “fair dealing” exceptions mentioned above may specifically impact copyrights for technology-related works such as software programs or databases. For example, producing a backup copy of a software program for personal use only would not be considered copyright infringement under a fair dealing exception. Though fair dealing explicitly excludes decompilation or copying a software program during decompilation, the European Software Directive allows software licensees to use their copy of the software “to observe study or test the functioning of the program” in order to “determine the ideas and principles which underlie any element of the program.”

Therefore, users may freely observe a program as it operates to determine their functions and its underlying ideas, even if the goal is to create a competing program (see the UK case SAS Institute v. World Programming for more information on this concept). However, actual copying, for example in the case of source code copying, is not tolerated since this is explicitly protected by copyright.

For practical reasons, database copyrights would not be infringed if a person with the legal right to use part or all of a database performs steps necessary to use or access the contents of the database. Also, accessing a database for the purposes of private study or non-commercial research does not infringe copyright in a database.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash. (Large preview)

Moral Rights In The UK

Another difference between the UK and other parts of the world with regard to copyright law is the UK’s emphasis on the importance of moral rights. Though this issue may not often arise in technology-related copyright disputes, moral rights are additional rights over and above the economic rights typically protected by copyright law.

In the UK, moral rights are: the right to attribution, or the right to be known or recognized as the author of a work; the right to object to derogatory treatment of a work, which includes any addition, deletion, or adaptation of a work that would distort or “mutilate” the work or injure the honor or reputation of the author; the right to object to false attribution, which basically means that you would not be named as the author of something you didn’t create; and the right to privacy of certain photographs and recordings, such as those commissioned for a private occasion.

One reason moral rights might be important for developers is that the moral right to attribution gives the developer the right to be named as the author of the software program, even though it is not common industry practice to do so. By the same token, if a developer doesn’t get their name associated with projects they didn’t work on, the right to object to false attribution protects them also. Find more information about moral rights here.

It is our hope that this information has been helpful for UK software designers and developers. Though this is only introductory information, and should not be substituted for legal counsel in the event of specific questions or disputes, education about copyright law issues and other IP issues helps to empower software designers and developers to make sure their works are fully protected.

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Copyright Law Basics For UK Software Developers

Tips For Conducting Usability Studies With Participants With Disabilities

Over the last few years, I ran several usability studies with participants with various disabilities. I thought it would help others if I shared some of my experiences.

In this article, I provide lessons learned or tips to consider in planning and executing usability testing with participants with disabilities. The lessons learned are divided into general that can apply to all types of disabilities; and lessons learned for three specific disability categories: visual, motor, and cognitive. These tips will help you regardless where you work: If you work with an established user research team where usability testing is part of your design process or if you work on your own with limited resources but want to improve the quality of the user research by expanding the diversity of participants.

Windows 10 high contrast mode of Google.com

Windows 10 high contrast mode of Google.com. (Large preview)


Several of our clients from a state government agency to several fortune 500 companies came to us at the User Experience Center (UXC) for help with their websites. They wanted to make sure users with disabilities could access their site and accomplish their goals.

There are many different kinds of disabilities, however, there is a general agreement to categorize people with disability into four general categories: visual, auditory, motor (also referred to as “physical”), and cognitive. There are different conditions and much variability within each category, e.g., within visual disabilities, color blindness, low vision, and blindness. There is also a distinction as to when a disability is contracted, e.g., a person who was born blind as opposed to one who lost vision later on in life.

Furthermore, as we age or encounter unique situations (such as multi-tasking), we may have a similar experience to people we think of as disabled. Therefore, disabilities should be thought of as a spectrum of abilities that should be accounted for during the design of all user interfaces and experiences.

Typically, in order to ensure that disabled people can use their digital products and services, companies aim for compliance with accessibility guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). While this is critical, it is also important to have users with disabilities try to accomplish real tasks on the site in usability testing. There may be gaps in the overall user experience…

Think about the typical doors found in buildings. How many times have you tried to open a door one way and realized they actually open the other, for example, push instead of pull. Technically the door is accessible, but it is usable?

Example of doors that are technically accessible, but not usable

Example of doors that are technically accessible, but not usable (handles give impression you should push but must pull to open). (Large preview)

Even if a site follows the accessibility guidelines and is technically accessible, users may not be able to accomplish their goals on the site.

Lesson Learned

In most ways, usability testing with this segment of the population is no different than testing with anyone else. However, there are several areas you need to pay just a bit more attention to so your sessions run smoothly. The lessons or tips are broken down into general ones that can apply to all participants and specific tips for various disability types such as visual, motor, and cognitive.

General Lessons Learned

1. Ensure a baseline level of accessibility before usability testing

Ensure a baseline level of accessibility before usability testing: Planning usability testing, especially recruiting participants can take time both for the project team and the recruited participants.

Two good examples of basic accessibility issues that should be addressed prior to usability testing are:

  • Missing alternative (alt) text.
    Usability testing can be used to see if the alt text used is appropriate and makes sense to participants, but if all the participants are doing is confirming that the alt text is missing then this is not a good use of their time.
  • Appropriate color contrast.
    All page designs should be reviewed beforehand to make sure all foreground and background colors meet WCAG 2.0 AA color contrast ratios.
2. Focus the recruiting strategy

If you work with an external recruiter ask them if they have experience recruiting people with disabilities; some do. If you are recruiting internally (without an external recruiter), you may need to reach out to organizations that have access to people with disabilities. For example, if you need to recruit participants with visually disabilities in the United States, you should contact a local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (https://nfb.org/state-and-local-organizations) or a local training center such as the Carroll Center for the Blind in Massachusetts (http://carroll.org/). If you use social media to advertise your study, a good approach is to use the hashtag #a11y (stands for accessibility — there are 11 letters between the “a” and “y”) in your post.

3. Bring their own equipment/assistive technology

Allow and encourage participants to bring their own equipment such as their own laptop, especially if they use assistive technology. This way, you can truly see how people customize and use assistive technology.

4. Have a backup plan for assistive technology

As stated above in #3. It is best if participants can bring their own equipment. However, it is always wise to plan for the worst, for example, if a participant does not bring their equipment or if there is a technical problem such as you can’t connect their equipment to your Wi-Fi network. In the case of visually impaired participants, install assistive technology (AT) such as screen reader software they will be bringing in on a backup PC. For many of the AT software packages, you can get a free trail that should cover you for the usability testing period. This has saved us several times. Even though the configuration was different than what the participants had, we were able to run the session. Participants were quickly able to go into the settings and make some adjustments (e.g., increase the speech rate) and get started with the session.

5. Allow additional time

Provide additional time in-between sessions. Typically we like to reserve 30 minutes between participants. However, when participants plan to bring in their own equipment additional time may be required for setting up and resolving any issues that may arise. When testing with individuals with disabilities, we schedule an hour between sessions, so we have extra time for setting up assistive technology and testing it.

6. Confirm participant needs

Either with the recruiting screener or via email or telephone, confirm what equipment participants will bring in and need to be supplied beforehand. In our lab, we can connect external laptops (that in this case, were outfitted with special accessibility software and settings) to our 1Beyond system via an HDMI cable. In a recent study, all of our participants’ laptops had HDMI ports. However, we forgot to check this beforehand. This is an example of a small but important thing to check to prevent show-stopping issues at the time of the test.

7. Consider additional cost

Depending on the disability type transportation to the usability testing location may add additional burden or cost. Consider the cost of transportation in the incentive amount. If feasible, consider providing an extra $25-$40 in your incentive amount so participants can take a taxi/Uber/Lyft, etc. to and from your location. Depending on access to public transportation and taxi/ride-sharing rates in your area the amount may vary. Our participants came to the UXC in different ways — some more reliable and timely than others.

8. Revise directions

Check the directions you provide for accessibility. Make sure they include an accessible path into your building. Test them out beforehand. Do you need to provide additional signage? If so, ensure all signs are clear, concise, and use plain-language directions.

9. Review the emergency evacuation plan

Review the plan in the event of a fire or other emergency. Map out the emergency evacuation plan in advance.

10. Consider logistics

Consider remote usability testing as an option. One of the benefits of bringing individuals with disabilities into the lab for usability testing is observing first-hand participants’ use of the product or website in question. However, the logistics of getting to your location may be just too much for participants. If it’s possible to test remotely (we typically do this through Zoom or GoToMeeting), it should be considered. This poses the additional challenge of making sure your process for capturing the remote session is compatible with all of the participant’s assistive technology, as well as accessible itself. Troubleshooting remotely is never fun and could be more difficult with this segment of the population.

11. Hearing impaired participants

Some participants may have a hearing impairment where the position of the moderator and participant is critical for adequate communication. In the case of hearing-impaired participants, it is important to get their attention before talking to them and also to take turns when engaging in conversation.

To get the most of this research, it is best if the participants are not discovering basic accessibility issues that should have been discovered during an accessibility review and/or testing.

Lessons Learned For Participants With Visual Disabilities

Participants with visual disabilities range from people who are blind and use screen readers such as JAWS, to people that need to the text or the screen to be enlarged using software such as ZoomText or relying on the native screen enlargement in the browser. People that are color-blind also fall into this category.

  • For any documents needed prior to the study such as the consent form, send via email beforehand and ask them review and send back in lieu of a physical signature. If you don’t, be prepared to read aloud the consent form and assist in signing the documents for some participants.
  • Make sure directions provide step-wise directions; do not rely only on graphical maps as these may not be accessible.
  • For all documents, make sure color is not used as the sole cue to convey information. Print out all documents on a black and white printer to make sure color is not required to make sense of the information.
  • Get participants mobile phone numbers in advance and meet them at their drop-off point. Be prepared to guide them to the testing location. Review best practice for guiding blind individuals:
  • While Braille documents can be helpful for participants that read Braille, the time and cost involved may not be feasible. Furthermore, all blind people do not read Braille, especially people that have lost sight later in life. It is best to make sure all documents can be read via a screen reader. Unless you are sure if there are no accessibility issues avoid PDF documents and send out simple Word documents or text-based emails.
  • If participants bring guide dogs do not treat them as pets, they are working. Provide space for the dog and do not pet it unless the participant gives you permission.
  • Make sure to explain beforehand any sounds or noise that are or may be present in the room such as unique audio from recording software. This may avoid the participant from becoming startled or confused during the session.
  • Initially when I started to work with blind participants I was worried my choice in language might offend. However, over the years I have learned that most blind participants are fairly relaxed when it comes to speech. Therefore, during moderation do not be afraid to use phrases such as “see” or “look” and similar words when talking to blind participants; for example, “please take a look at the bottom of the page” or “what do you see in the navigation menu?” In my experience, blind participants will not be offended and will understand the figurative meaning rather than the literal meaning.
  • Test out all recording equipment/processes beforehand. Ensure all audio including both human speech in the room and audio/speech from AT such as screen readers will be recorded correctly. During testing of the equipment adjust the locations of the microphones for optimal recording.

Lessons Learned For Participants With Motor Disabilities

Motor disabilities refer to disabilities that affect the use of arms or legs and mobility. These individuals may need to use a wheelchair. Some people may not have full use of their hands or arms and cannot use a standard mouse and keyboard. These people may need to voice recognition software which allows to use voice input or use a special pointing device, for example, one that is controlled by their mouth.

  • In the directions, make sure the route is accessible and routes them via elevators rather than stairs. Also, if participants are driving note the location of accessible parking.
  • Note if doors have accessible door controls. If not you may need to meet the participant and guide them to the testing location.
  • Make a note of the nearest accessible restrooms to the testing location.
  • As with all participants with disabilities, it is best if they can bring in their own laptop with their assistive technology software installed and any other required assistive technology. However, in the case of participants (such as Adriana in Figure 3) that use voice recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking this is critical because they have trained the software to recognize their voice.
  • Make sure the desk or table where the participant will be working can accommodate a wheelchair and the height is adjustable. According to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), conference tables must be 27 inches high in order to accommodate knee clearance for individuals in wheelchairs..

Adriana Mallozzi conducting a usability test at the User Experience Center. Picture-in-Picture view of the computer page taking up most of the screen and small video feed of Adriana n the lower right-hand corner

Adriana Mallozzi conducting a usability test at the User Experience Center. Adriana has a motor disability (cerebral palsy) which affects her entire body. She uses a wheelchair, a sip-and-puff joystick that acts as a mouse, along with Dragon Naturally Speaking. (Large preview)

Lessons Learned For Participants With Cognitive Disabilities

Individuals with these disabilities cover a wide range of relatively mild learning disabilities such as Dyslexia to individuals with a more profound cognitive disability such as Down syndrome. In general, people with cognitive disabilities have challenges with one or more mental tasks. Rather than looking at specific clinical definitions it best to consider functional limitations in key areas such as memory, problem-solving, attention, reading or verbal compensation. Consider how best to accommodate participants during usability testing. Many of the tips below should also apply to all participants, however for this group you need to be extra aware.

  • Sometimes participants will be accompanied by a caretaker or an aide. This person may assist with transportation or may need to be present with the participant during the usability test. If the caretaker is present during the usability test, make sure they understand the structure of the usability test and what will be required of the participant. If you know the participant will be accompanied before the study, you review the goals and protocol prior to arrival via email or phone. That is as much as possible the participant should be one conducting the usability testing, and the caretaker should not be involved unless it is completely necessary.
  • In some cases, the caretaker or aide may act like an interpreter. You may need to communicate with this interpreter in order to communicate with the participant. If this is the case, make sure you record the audio coming from both the participant and the interpreter.
  • Provide instructions in multiple modalities, for example, both written and verbal. Be patient and be prepared to repeat the task or ask the same question multiple times.
  • Be prepared to break tasks into smaller sub-tasks to support memory/attention challenges or fatigue that may set in.
  • Ideally, it is best to be consistent with tasks for all participants however for some participants with cognitive disabilities you should be prepared to go off-script or modify tasks on the fly if the current approach is not working.
  • Have the participant’s comfort and well-being the number one priority at all times. Don’t be afraid to take multiple breaks or end the session early if things are just not working out or the participant is not comfortable.

Amazon.com home page zoomed in at 250%. (Large preview)

Additional Insights

The tips above should serve as guidelines. Each participant is unique and may require various accommodations depending on their situation. Furthermore, while some of the tips are categorized for specific disability types, specific individuals may have multiple disabilities and/or benefit from a tip from a different category than their primary disability.

If you or your company have conducted user or customer research, you know the value of gathering feedback about the issues and benefits of products and systems. Testing with individuals with disabilities is no different, as you learn many insights that you would not gain otherwise. However, an additional takeaway for us was the realization that people use assistive technologies in different ways. The following example is specific to people with visual disabilities, but there are similar examples across all groups.

An assumption might be someone that is blind only uses a screen reader such as JAWS and is an expert at it. We found that people with visual impairments actually differ greatly in the level of support needed from assistive technology.

  • Some users need a screen reader for accessing all content.
  • Some users (with more sight/with low vision) only need to enlarge content or invert page colors to increase contrast.
  • Others may need a combination of approaches. One visually impaired participant used both a screen reader along with the zoom function embedded in the web browser. She only used a screen reader for large paragraphs of text, but otherwise simply zoomed in with the web browser and got very close to the screen when navigating around the website.

Furthermore, just like anyone, all users are not experts on the software they use. While some users would consider themselves experts, some only learn enough about the software to accomplish what they need and no more.

Moving Forward

Hopefully you have learned some useful information that will help you include more diversity into your usability testing. However, since there is variability with different disabilities, this may seem overwhelming. I recommend starting small; for example by including one or two participants with disabilities as part of a larger group of 5 to 10 participants. In addition, initially bring in someone that has both experience with usability testing and a lot of experience with their assistive technology so you can focus on getting their feedback rather than how the usability testing process works or their use of their assistive technology.


I would like to thank Jocelyn Bellas, UX Researcher at Bank of America and Rachel Graham, UX Researcher at Amazon. When Rachel and Jocelyn worked at the User Experience Center as Research Associates in 2016, they worked with me on some of the projects referenced in this article and also contributed to a related blog post on this topic.


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Tips For Conducting Usability Studies With Participants With Disabilities

A Simple Guide to Understanding and Creating a Website Conversion Funnel

How many articles have you read recently about the “conversion funnel”? Probably a lot. If you regularly read marketing blogs, it can sometimes feel like you’re hearing, seeing, and having the term “conversion funnel” shoved in front of your eyeballs constantly. I personally come across conversion funnel information multiple times per day when I’m focused on research and reading. It seems like every marketer in existence wants to be sure I don’t forget about this part of my strategy. So why is this? The short is answer is that an optimized conversion funnel is critical to your online marketing success. You might be…

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A Simple Guide to Understanding and Creating a Website Conversion Funnel

How GDPR Will Change The Way You Develop

Europe’s imminent privacy overhaul means that we all have to become more diligent about what data we collect, how we collect it, and what we do with it. In our turbulent times, these privacy obligations are about ethics as well as law.
Web developers have a major role to play here. After all, healthy data protection practice is as much about the development side — code, data, and security — as it is about the business side of process, information, and strategy.

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How GDPR Will Change The Way You Develop

8 Reasons Your Traffic Is Increasing But Not Your Conversions

Traffic and conversions. That’s what we want. And we usually start at the beginning, with traffic. I agree. Traffic is great. Have you ever logged into Google Analytics on a Monday morning and found a huge traffic spike waiting for you? That’s a fantastic feeling. But unless you’re a 16-year-old YouTuber with a fame complex, you’re not actually interested in traffic. You want conversions. You want to see increases on your income report, not just your Analytics display. But hold up. Doesn’t more traffic equal more conversions? Well technically, yes. I’m assuming your conversion funnel is good enough that a 30,000 increase in visitors…

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8 Reasons Your Traffic Is Increasing But Not Your Conversions

Designing A Perfect Responsive Configurator

Here’s a little challenge for you. How would you design a responsive interface for a custom car configurator? The customer should be able to adjust colors, wheels, exterior details, interior details and perhaps accessories — on small and large screens. Doesn’t sound that difficult, does it? In fact, we have all seen such interfaces before. Essentially, they are just a combination of some navigation, iconography, buttons, accordions and a real-time 3D preview.

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Designing A Perfect Responsive Configurator

Offboarding In The Online World

By now, we’ve all heard about onboarding — the beginning of a relationship between a company and a user — but what about offboarding? Both go hand in hand as being two of the most important interactions you can have with a user, but offboarding gets much less publicity and sometimes is even altogether ignored. So, what exactly is it, and why is it so important?
Offboarding is usually described as the interaction between a company and their customer at the end of the customer journey.


Offboarding In The Online World

Optimizing Sketch Files: Lessons Learned In Creating The Reduce App (Case Study)

Sketch had brought totally new standards for file sizes. You no longer see 10 GB Photoshop files all over the place. Nevertheless, huge Sketch files exist, and they slow down Sketch. As a result, your productivity slows down as well.
Let’s be honest: It’s not the design files that become bigger by magic. It’s designers who fill their files with unused, unoptimized and hidden elements that take unnecessary space. We have faced this problem in our startup, Flawless App.

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Optimizing Sketch Files: Lessons Learned In Creating The Reduce App (Case Study)

Designing Friction For A Better User Experience

In experience design, friction is anything that prevents users from accomplishing their goals or getting things done. It’s the newsletter signup overlay covering the actual content, the difficult wording on a landing page, or the needless optional questions in a checkout flow. It’s the opposite of intuitive and effortless, the opposite of “Don’t make me think.”
Having said that, friction can still be a good thing sometimes. In game design, for example, friction is actually required.


Designing Friction For A Better User Experience

Product Awareness Month: Why I’m Writing 30 Blog Posts in 30 Days

alt : https://unbounce.com/photos/30-in-30.mp4https://unbounce.com/photos/30-in-30.mp4

We Have 1.06 Products.

I wrote that statement on a whiteboard at the start of a website brainstorm session.

What does 1.06 products mean?

1.06 sums up my frustration at the adoption rate of our new products. Yup, Unbounce is now more than just a landing page builder. We released two new products, namely “overlays” and “sticky bars”, and we grouped them together under an umbrella term “Convertables”.

The number 1 represents our flagship industry-leading landing page product (100% of our customers have adopted it), and the .06 represents the tragic adoption rate of our new products (6%).

And yes, you’d be correct if you noted that “Convertables” isn’t a real word, but then neither is Unbounce, so we went with it after a notable amount of company-wide polling, and general corporate groupthink. More on that later.

So, how does this scenario result in me writing 30 blog posts about our products?

Rewind to October 5th: I was in a meeting with fellow co-founders Rick, Carl, and Carter, openly expressing my frustration with the adoption numbers, and Carter interrupted me to ask, “Okay, fine, but what are you going to do about it?”.

Then this video happened…

Awesome, right?! Yeah, it is, until the moment I realized it’s been exactly 301 days since I last wrote a blog post (I’ve been focusing on public speaking), making this level of bravado a tad audacious at best. Aaand, yes I realize I was a little intoxicated in the video.

But, I’ve learned over the years, that being a bit ridiculous in my promises is the only way I really know how to get shit done. When I tell everyone that I’m doing something big, the self-imposed peer pressure is what motivates me to make sure I complete my mission.

Enter Product Awareness Month (PAM)

This brings me to our blog. We’ve never written much about our products on the blog, in fact, we’ve actively avoided it to let the content speak for itself as an educational pillar of the community, and to remain non-salesy.

I’ve realized though, that it doesn’t make much business sense to be that overtly humble in all marketing communications. There has to be a way to balance exposing people to your product without it detracting from the experience.

It’s my fault in many ways. When I started our blog back in 2009, I had a mission to be different from our competitors, to not come across as a salesperson, and just to provide value and entertaining content that stood out.

We dominated the realm of conversion content for many years, but in an increasingly competitive SaaS martech space, our content is no longer number one, and it’s time that we change our approach.

Which is why we’re doing a blog takeover for the whole of January.

Our goal is to explore a blog topic we’ve not covered before, but also to expose a transparent window – transparency is one of our six core values at Unbounce – into our journey as a company, as a marketing team, and myself personally, to become better at marketing our new products.

For me, it’s the first time I’ve ever been involved in product marketing, which will make it a fascinating personal journey reinventing myself as a different kind of marketer.

I’m also cutting the number of speaking gigs I do in 2018 in half, because let’s be honest, in this moment, the success of Unbounce can be more rapidly impacted by me staying home than being on the road.


Along the way, I’ll be opening up the Unbounce vault to share our core metrics with you. This will include our churn and product adoption metrics, which we hope to be able to lift in a big way throughout this 30-day experiment. There will be data check-ins throughout, with a halfway report, and then a full “Results Show” at the end.

I’ll also be digging into our analytics to see what the engagement and attribution looks like for every one of the 30 blog posts.

Some of the content will revolve around the learnings and experiences of becoming a better product marketer, and the rest will be an exploration of the ways we’re trying to rethink what our products are, what they mean to our customers, and how we can do a better job communicating their benefits (with some case studies and new ways of thinking – I hope).

I say “I hope” because I’m writing this as you read it. That’s what tends to happen when you commit to something as absurd as 30-in-30.

Follow Along << Mid-Post CTA

I encourage you to follow along by subscribing to our weekly update emails at the bottom of the page. I’m really keen to have our community (that’s you) help us explore how to do this properly, and hopefully, we’ll all learn how to do a better job of marketing our products.

This is a screenshot of the subscribe form at the bottom of the post. Thought you should know.

You can also subscribe by clicking here to launch a popup (using the on-click trigger feature) which contains the subscribe form. << product marketing much?

Aaand I’ve configured it so you’ll see an exit popup when you leave this page. Note, that I’m doing this to show the product in a relevant and hopefully useful manner.

Unbounce Product Adoption Metrics

How do we measure adoption at Unbounce? To understand, it helps to explain a little about how we define a customer. In the old days, a customer was any signup, someone who started a 30-day trial. Over time we learned we should be measuring a little deeper into the customer lifecycle, and decided a customer was someone who paid us twice; once after the 30-day trial, and again after sixty days.

In 2017 we modified this further to someone who pays us three times, giving us a much better sense of true churn numbers.

To be considered a customer who has adopted our products, we have an additional set of app usage criteria:

For landing pages adoption means: a customer who has built and published one or more pages, has set up a custom domain, configured an integration with another tool, and has paid us three times.

For “Convertables” (Overlays & Sticky Bars) adoption means: a customer who has built and published a popup or sticky bar, installed our one-line global Javascript on their website, received at least 10 conversions, and has paid us three times.

Full transparency: 6% adoption for a new product sucks.

So what went wrong? Why was adoption so low?

Well, first, and most importantly, product marketing is really hard.

We also made a few (well intended) mistakes, namely…

Mistake #1: We called a popup an overlay.
Mistake #2: We created a fictitious umbrella term “Convertables” for only two child products, and for a few months, only one child product.
Mistake #3: We assumed that people would find and use these two products, hidden behind said umbrella term in the app.
Mistake #4: We assumed that the functional user of our landing page product would be the same person who needs to use popups and sticky bars.

How do we un-f*** this problem?

The first thing we’re doing is removing public-facing mentions of the term “Convertables”. This has excited the marketing team because it’s much easier to market something when you know how to describe it, and a multi-product value prop is much harder than a single-product value prop.

Beyond that, the approach I’m taking is a combination of four primary tenets:

  1. First, is a concept I call “Productizing Our Technology” or POT for short. This is about discovering new and novel ways that our platform can be used, that people either haven’t imagined or simply didn’t know was possible.
  2. Second, is exploring the entire Unbounce ecosystem, from the app, to the website, our content channels, and our community, to see how we could do a better job of exposing the benefits of our products to those who can benefit from them.
  3. Third, is using the Product Awareness Month blog takeover to create interactive demonstrations right here on the blog – the goal of which is to reduce the Time to Value (TTV) by creating more obvious ah-ha moments.
  4. Fourth, understanding who the various target personas and functional users of the different products are, and adjusting our targeting and marketing communications to find and speak to those potentially different users.

In regards to #3 the blog takeover, if you take a look at the top of the screen, you’ll see a header bar like this:

Or this one, if you have scrolled down the page:

If you look at the hierarchy of information from left to right, you see: 1) Who we are: logo, 2) What we do: value prop, 3) How to take action: the three big orange buttons.

This is hugely different to the rest of the blog, which retains the navigation of the whole site (I’ve thought that was incongruent for a long time).

My hope is that the new header bar helps more people know what we do, and how our products can help. I’ll be tracking engagement with the 3 CTAs and comparing these 30 posts against our other blog content in terms of its ability to get people to sign up.

Productizing Our Technology: Landing Pages, Popups, & Sticky Bars

I had my own ah-ha moment when I started imagining all the ways that I could hack/modify/extend the ways the Unbounce conversion platform can be used. We have 3 core pieces of product technology (not including our AI/Machine Learning efforts that will power our technology in the future): landing pages, popups, and sticky bars.

By taking our core tech, combining the available features, with new jQuery scripts, CSS, and some 3rd-party integrations, it’s possible to create a plethora of new “mini-products” that if embraced by the community, might inform future product direction.

Take a look at the spreadsheet below. This is my POT matrix. The complete sheet currently houses over 120 new product ideas.

Productizing Unbounce Technology
(Click image for full-size view)

Across the top (in yellow) are the core products, their features (such as targeting, triggers, display frequency), and the different hacks, data sources, and integrations, that can be combined to produce the new products listed in green in the first column.

Each product is flagged as being in one of three states:

NOW: These products are possible now with our existing feature set.
MVP: These products are possible by adding some simple scripts/CSS to extend the core.
NEW: These products would require a much deeper level of product or website development to make them possible. These are the examples that came from “blue sky” ideation, and are a useful upper anchor for what could be done.

I’ll be explaining these use cases in greater detail as the month progresses, and I’ll be building some of them directly into these blog posts as I write them. << FTR this will involve me reverting to my long-extinct coding background to hack the shit out of the blog to show you what I’m talking about.

Please Follow Along

That’s the intro, that’s what happened, and what we’re going to do to try and fix it. Subscribe to the weekly email updates, join the discussion in the comments, and chat directly with me on Twitter.

There is also a calendar at the bottom of every post that will link to all 30 PMM topics as they roll out.

What’s coming on day 2 of PMM?

Tomorrow’s post is called “50 Creative Ideas Your Marketing Team Can Use to Improve SaaS Product Adoption & Awareness”. It’s based on the results of rapid-fire brainstorms which exposed quick-win tactics all product marketers can use to expose your products in small and simple ways, to build to a critical mass of awareness.

This should be very relevant to anyone in marketing, and doubly so to those working for a SaaS business.

Here’s to kicking off 2018 in a blaze of product marketing glory.

Oli Gardner

p.s. Please jump into the comments below to let me know what products you’re currently trying to take to market.

Original article: 

Product Awareness Month: Why I’m Writing 30 Blog Posts in 30 Days

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