Les Archives

Gmail: Super Clear Buttons

December 23rd, 2010

I was just using Gmail and was closing my window, when Google gave me this warning:

Your standard error message would say “Cancel” or “Continue”. I would typically support minimalism, but in this case, saying more makes me think less – and decide what I’d like to do faster.

“Operation Payback”: DDoS Against Fax Machines

December 21st, 2010

In retaliation against Amazon, MasterCard, PayPal and others for blocking WikiLeaks from using their service – Anonymous has launched an attack against their fax machines (see Slashdot).  The goal: occupy the numbers so legitimate faxes can’t go through, which disrupts day to day businesses operations.

j2Global doubles down on online faxing: $213 million dollar purchase

December 21st, 2010

Last week, one of our competitors was purchased for $213 million. The buyer: j2Global (the parent company of eFax).

Portus IP Solutions’ had $72 million of revenue per year and 81% of that revenue came from online faxing. With the purchase,  j2Global now owns 44% of the online faxing market (LA Business Journal).

An Obituary

When Protus stood up to eFax, we also benefited. In 2009, eFax claimed exclusive use of the word “eFax” – even though its a generic term. Protus challenged them in court and won. If they had lost, it would have been like Ford owning the trademark for “car” or “automobile”.  There are no major competitors left to eFax (see my previous post on eFax’s customer service).

Market Validation

On the other hand, this purchase represents major market validation. Online faxing still provides tremendous value to individuals and small businesses. In fact, it’s projected to grow 15.5% and 11.1% for businesses and individuals (Davidson Consulting).


Protus doesn’t do anything spectacular. They don’t revolutionize online faxing, legal documents, signatures or the transfer of important documents.  Yet, they still managed to have huge revenue and a significant purchase price.  That’s good news for us, as we have some technology in the works which add significantly more value to the faxing and legal document space.

Conveying a persona on your pricing page

December 16th, 2010

You can have something that conveys a status / persona onto the buyer (from custdev.com):

Or functional and stale (earth class mail):

Or conversational and personal (basecamp):

Why I’ll never forget DropBox: Power of Desktop Integration

December 12th, 2010

After a simple signup, I’m reminded of dropbox everyday. They placed 2 icons on my desktop computer.

Dropbox’s brilliant engagement

December 11th, 2010

Dropbox has a brilliant way of engaging users in their application and getting them to share with friends. They even committed an entire tab to it.

If you complete 5 of the 6 tasks, you can get a reward – which is more storage. Note, your reward is their reward. More storage means more engagement.

Regardless, take a look at the requirements and you can understand their priorities: learning (how does the app work), permanence (downloading it to your desktop) and sharing (social marketing).

Usability Changes to the Interface

December 8th, 2010

Simplicity and usability is key to what we’re building.

Here is what “Send A Fax” used to look like.

We intentionally built 3 input boxes. The first 2 boxes are the same length, because they represent 3 digits each. The last one is longer, because it’s 4 digits.

Why is that important? Because it’s a visual que. Without reading, a visitor might understand that we need a 10 digit number.

Here is the re-design (we still need to make it nice looking):

We discovered a problem with the previous design. Because of the 3 boxes, our users couldn’t cut and paste into it. They’d have to remember the number or re-visit our site several times. That’s really annoying.

We could have implemented a cut and paste, which would have worked with the split boxes. However, even though our visitors could functionally cut and paste, they might not understand that it’s possible — and never try.

We went for the single box.  Hope you like it.

E-Signatures in Action: Minnesota’s Secretary of State

December 7th, 2010

Registering, amending, merging and dissolving a businesses is an important activity.

So, it’s significant that the Minnesota Secretary of State has not only embraced e-signatures, but gone above and beyond the requirements of other businesses and government entities.

They accept:

  • a typed name at the bottom of the document in the usual space for the signature
  • a reproduction of an actual signature
  • a mark in lieu of a signature
  • a printed signature either hand or machine-printed
  • a stamp of a signature
  • a digital signature of whatever kind

It’s the last sentence that is significant. They will accept a digital signature of whatever kind.  I don’t think that the organization that manages the state’s businesses would risk itself, if it were not 100 percent confident that e-signatures were enforceable.

The core component of any contract is 1. An offer, 2. Acceptance 3. Consideration. So, answering an email with “I accept” is considered a contract.

The reason why people seek legal signature tools is for an additional layer of security – to prevent repudiation. Repudiation is where someone says, “I didn’t sign this” or “the document has changed since I signed it.”  What the MN Sec of State’s actions mean is that they are confident that they can prevent repudiation with a stamp, reproduction, or digital signature of any kind.  That’s a vote of confidence for electronic signatures.

Don’t Shame Your Costumers in Front of Their Clients?

December 3rd, 2010

I was just trying out some e-signature companies. I always do a trial run before purchasing a product because I’d like to know how the recipient sees something.

I request a signature from a friend. He gets an email, requesting a signature and bam! He can’t sign it because:

“The creator of this contract doesn’t have enough credit to pay for your signature and has been notified of the situation.”

This is awkward. Good thing I tested it first. Otherwise, my client or business partner would see me as someone who either can’t afford to pay his bills or plan in advance.

If I don’t have enough credit, tell me before I send. Not after. If payment through shame is their approach, it didn’t work! I’m going elsewhere.

Never shame, humiliate, harm, scare or coerce your users. Ever.

Comic of the Day #9 [photo]

December 2nd, 2010