tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:/posts Angry Monkeys 2018-03-03T07:21:21Z Alan Downie tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/584444 2013-06-17T00:55:46Z 2013-10-08T17:26:29Z A New UsabilityHub: Coming Soon

It's been a long time since we've posted an update, and for that we're sorry. We're not dead, we've just been busy elsewhere. Matt and I (Alan) have been working full time on a bug tracking app for web designers and digital agencies called BugHerd. BugHerd is a visual bug tracker for websites, like sticky notes for HTML. Things have been going awesome at BugHerd, and whilst we always had the intention of coming back to UsabilityHub and Five Second Test, it was becoming more and more clear that we were just never going to be able to.

So a while back we made a decision to get some help.

We'd like to introduce you to Nick and Tristan (You may have already used their app - the time tracking and invoicing app, Paydirt). They've been working hard rebuilding UsabilityHub from the ground up. They've made a lot of improvements already, but there are a lot more changes and features coming soon. We'll be launching the new version into beta in the coming weeks. If you're interested in trying it out shoot an email to support@usabilityhub.com and we'll get you set up as soon as it's ready to go. As a treat, here's a look at the new dashboard currently in development (full design not implemented yet...this is just a sneak peek):

Once the new app is ready to roll, we will be shutting down the old app. This means two things:

1. Where possible your tests will be migrated to the new system. If for some reason we're unable to migrate all of your tests, we'll give you plenty of opportunity to get the data you need before we move to the new version. We don't expect there to be any problems, but because it's an entirely new system some tests may not make the journey.

2. As everything is new (including the database), you'll be asked to reset your password. It will be a simple matter of using the "reset password" functionality to choose a new password. If you can't remember what email address you used to sign up, just shoot us an email to support@usabilityhub.com and we'll help you out.

I hope you're as excited about this huge new release as we are. Once again, I'd like to apologise for the silence of the past little while... it's not that we don't love you, it's just we bit off more than we could chew :)

Thanks for all your support and enthusiasm over the past few years, and here's looking forward to the next few!


Alan and Matt - UsabilityHub co-founders

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361758 2011-10-11T00:00:44Z 2013-10-08T16:39:29Z Why Being an Aussie Startup Sucks.

This is a repost of an article I wrote in May of 2010. It was originally taken down at the request of our bank in order to be approved for an account.  Ironically, the reason we relented was because there was no other bank in Australia that provided the USD merchant account we need. The fact it was demanded that we take down the post only serves to highlight the point the post was making in the first place. This still makes me laugh.

Having had another 12 months experience in running startups, with two incubators and three trips to the US under my belt, a follow up post may be in order. In the meantime, by request, here is the original post.


You've all heard about how if you want to run a successful startup, you've gotta be in the US. Well, we're quickly finding out how true that is. But first a disclaimer...I'm not a banking expert. I'm new to the whole Internet Merchant realm, and this is a tale of my experience trying to get our business selling online. I know there are far easier options than using a customised solution, but looking to the future, this is something we wanted to achieve, and we're simply astounded at how something so seemingly trivial could be so damned difficult. If at the end of this you have a solution to our problems, by all means drop us an email at support@fivesecondtest.com. I'd love to hear from you!

It's not that our business is any different than a US based business. Our websites and applications would all be exactly the same if we were in Silicon Valley. We'd likely go about our business activities the same as we do here, we'd probably have the same amount of traffic, and make the same number of sales. The one big difference, is that by being in the US, we'd be in the US already! Sounds obvious, but that's where the Internet "happens". The majority of our customers are in the US, our hosting is in the US, our suppliers are in the US, our sales are made in US dollars and most importantly when you talk Internet, people don't look at you like you're trying to launch a mission to Mars.  Remove yourself from that ecosystem, and all of a sudden you find yourself asking questions which people don't understand, and trying to find information that no one has. Worst of all, you find yourself with a big fat lack of choice.

For the past 6 months one of our little applications, Fivesecondtest.com, has been trudging along earning us a nice bit of cash on the side of our usual consultancy work. It's not our main revenue source by any stretch, but that is something we're in the process of changing. As many readers will know, all our payments are currently handled by PayPal. PayPal, for all its faults, provides a cheap, flexible and easy to setup payment system. Whilst it is certainly doing its job admirably, as we move to the next phase of our little hobby, PayPal is no longer fitting the bill..... and this is when our problems started.

Our next product, Navflow.com. is designed to run as part of a subscription. When hunting around the web for ways to achieve this goal, we found a plethora of providers, gateways, carts and apps to meet our needs. So much choice!! Where to start!? Well for us, we'd be reading a heap about a little app called Chargify, and decided to check it out. I'm all for supporting those that are trying to do something different. Even if it is in Beta, we were keen to get on-board. 15 minutes after signing up, we had Chargify set up and plugged into our app. With a little tinkering, we quickly had a full test bed running that allowed us to subscribe, unsubscribe and switch plans. This is how the web is supposed to work! Fantastic!

So now the pain of learning happens.

Chargify is still in Beta, and whilst it is a remarkably polished app, it's not "feature complete" yet. For the most part this doesn't affect us, but the one thing that did catch us by surprise was their support for payment gateways. First of all, we thought Chargify WERE a payment gateway. This is an example of how we were more than a little naive about the world of credit cards and internet payments. We'd been spoiled by the one-stop-shop that is PayPal.

As it turns out, Chargify (as of writing) only support one gateway that supports Australian businesses, PaymentExpress. Well that certainly made our choice easier! So we went to Payment Express and found that to use their services we needed a Merchant Account. Ok, no problem, we had a business account already, it surely couldn't be too hard to get a Merchant account setup alongside that? Could it? We spoke to our bank only to find that they can set us up a Merchant account, but that we could only sell in AUD. Not only that, but prices have to be QUOTED in AUD. This is hardly appropriate given that around 1% of our customers are actually Australian. After much research and gnashing of teeth, it turns out that <REDACTED> are the only Australian bank (supported by Payment Express at least) that support multiple currencies....and that comes with a hefty up front fee as well as additional fees for every currency you want to support. OUCH!

So if we want to use Chargify, we MUST use Payment Express and we MUST use <REDACTED>. A quick look at transaction fees for all of the above quickly showed how big of a slice of our monthly subscription fees we'd lose. We'd make it all back again, but it's still a big punch in the face when compared to the relatively cheap PayPal solution.

This is where being Australian sucks.

If we were in the US, we'd have a choice of half a dozen payment gateways with Chargify alone, and we'd have a near endless supply of banks and merchant account suppliers queuing up to take their slice of our takings. But in the Internet backwater that is Australia, we have the choice of ONE bank that will do what we need to do, and they seem intent on taking a hefty slice of every dollar they can (they are a bank after all).

So the logical progression of thought here is that if we ditch Chargify, we can ditch PaymentExpress which means we can ditch <REDACTED>. Of course, we still want to sell in USD, so that means getting an international acquirer. We spoke to several other companies such as WorldPay, GlobalCollect, Chase PaymentTech and several others. Whilst the aforementioned providers could at least provide us Aussies with merchant accounts, the vast majority of "online" providers weren't set up to support Australian businesses. GlobalCollect and Chase, whilst helpful were quietly sniggering at our annual turnover, and politely showed us the door. WorldPay, our last remaining option told us that it would take up to TWO MONTHS to set up an account with them. WOW. In 2010, it takes that long to set up a payment gateway and merchant account?

So, we're back to square one. As an Aussie startup we have the choice of precisely one provider of Internet Merchant accounts, and they're EXPENSIVE. There are some fantastic cart providers (like Chargify) out there doing some amazing things. For the most part, they're not only simple to use, but also have excellent support and are crazy cheap to implement! The frustrating thing about all this is that the closer you get to a bank in the whole process, the slower the responses become, the worse the implementations get and all the while they charge you more and more for the privilege. 

Even when we thought there was a glimmer of hope, with Chargify announcing support for PayPal Pro, our hopes were quickly dashed. If you're in the US, PayPal Pro is an all-in-one account that let's you do everything you could possibly want, and for a very reasonable fee ($30/month). Connect that to Chargify, and you have an awesome subscription system that is not only flexible but is very cheap to set up and run. Of course, that's if you're in the US. In Australia, we're stuck with PayPal Payflow Pro, which is not only significantly more expensive ($150/month), but still requires an bloody Internet Merchant account from your bank!! Back to square one....again!

So it seems that whether because of banking regulation, or lack of competition, we're stuck with a cumbersome, expensive, inflexible, slow-to-setup payment system for one reason and one reason alone.... We want to do business globally, but we're based in Australia.

At least we have better beaches I guess.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361760 2011-03-03T02:53:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:29Z Why the world needs a new bug tracker.

If you haven’t checked out our demo or had a play, BugHerd is a kick-ass new bug tracker that makes reporting website issues a breeze for designers and clients. Matt and I started developing it one day after trying other tools and finding them to be too cumbersome for our needs.

As the founders of UsabilityHub – the home of several popular UX tools including FiveSecondTest – we were solely focused on building great user experiences and found that bug tracking tools designed for engineers got in the way of us achieving that. If it takes more time to log a bug than it does to fix it then you simply won't log it. That means the bug gets forgotten and it never gets fixed. So to solve our little conundrum, we built a bug tracker that we would actually use. It takes 5 seconds to ask someone to change a button color instead of the several minutes it takes to fill out a monstrous form.

Our UX sites have over 11,000 members, split evenly between designers, front-end developers and UX experts. Surely these folks shared our pain! We ran a survey to find out and the results were startling. These were the top 5 responses to the question: "What solution do you currently use to obtain client feedback and manage issues?"

1.       Email (20%)
2.       Pen/paper (18%)
3.       Phone (7%)
4.       Google Docs (6%)
5.       Excel (4%)

Do the math, and you'll see that over 55% of respondents have no formal method for sourcing and tracking client feedback. Now, I'm the first to admit that our survey is by no means exhaustive, but it certainly makes one thing obvious: these users can't find a bug tracking solution that works for them. So here we are in the age where there is an app for everything, yet 55% of designers aren't using any kind of purpose built tool to manage their work! 

Imagine the workflow for any one of those top 5 methods. There’s double handling, no round-trip communication, no automation, no backup, no process, no feedback mechanism - nothing. It's almost an entirely manual process. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that 74% of respondents said their clients didn't like their choice of solution. Ouch!

Think that’s the bad news? Well it gets worse.

We were also curious about how these people manage their own issues internally between team members. So we asked, "What solution do you currently use to manage bugs and issues between team members?". Once again, the answers were surprising:

1.       Pen/paper (23%)
2.       Email (14%)
3.       Basecamp (13%)
4.       Google Docs (11%)
5.       Redmine (10%)

Well at least there are some actual management tools in this list! Almost 50% of these designers weren’t using any formal means of tracking bugs and issues internally. Conversely, a similar survey we ran on Hacker News found that the vast majority of developers use the most well-known bug trackers (Redmine, Jira, Bugzilla, etc). In fact, only 12% of Hacker News respondents said they use something other than a bug tracker to track their bugs. 

What this says to us is that there is clearly a mismatch in the market. There are a thousand and one bug tracking tools for engineers, but there are none for non-engineers. Developers use bug trackers, therefore bug trackers are designed for developers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when you survey designers and their clients, they'll tell you they don't use anything at all. Whilst your bug tracker may be great for your engineering team, it sucks for everybody else. 

We're currently talking to a company who is interested in using BugHerd internally. Their web team is made up of 75 people, 6 of whom are engineers. Yes, SIX!! They represent 8% of the team yet they're the ones dictating which bug tracking tool to use. Imagine trying to get the 12 designers, 10 content writers, 15 managers and 32 other non-engineers to use something like Bugzilla to log their issues! It's no wonder they ultimately fall back to email to log and track issues. It's also clear why they want to use BugHerd.

What is honestly surprising is that no one has thought to build a tool for the designers, marketers, writers and stakeholders. BugHerd is the first bug tracker that was designed with those users in mind whilst still being powerful enough for your dev team to get their jobs done. At the end of the day, bug tracking isn't just about engineering problems and solutions, it's about keeping customers happy. Who do you think knows more about these problems - the engineering team or the people who deal with the customers?

And that is why we'd like to introduce you to BugHerd: The world's fastest bug tracker for web designers and their clients.

If you haven't already seen it, check out the BugHerd demo now.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361765 2010-11-29T20:43:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Facebook is the Death Star, and we're all building it.

Do you ever wonder what happened to all the innocent construction workers on the Death Star (v2.0) when it is destroyed? If you've watched Kevin Smith's Clerks, you certainly would have. If you haven't seen it, Google "Clerks Star Wars" and watch a short clip from it. For those that can't be bothered, the discussion between a customer and a store clerk revolves around the destruction of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Given that it was still under construction at the time, it is almost certain that many thousands of workers would've been killed in the blast. The customer feels that it's terrible that so many people were killed just doing their jobs (roofer, plumbers, electricians etc) that weren't, strictly speaking, part of the "Empire". The clerk argues that the independent contractor has a moral obligation to know who they're working for before they take on the job. If you're building a Death Star, it's really your duty to know what it is you're helping to build. If you get killed in the process, well... you knew the risk when you took on the job.

What does this have to do with you? Well, Facebook is the Death Star, and you're helping build it.

Ok, so you're not part of the Empire, but you're contributing to the construction nonetheless. You're the plumber or the electrician, the guy that forgot to put in safety rails, the girl that builds the strangely located trash compactors in prison blocks and then ensures they have large tentacled creatures in them, or maybe you're just the one responsible for naming Mr. Coffee and Mr. Radar. The point is, you don't need to work for the Empire to be complicit in its success.

Tim Berners-Lee, in his Scientific American article, wrote, "If we, the Web's users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands. We could lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites we want." One of the trends he speaks of are the walled gardens of information; silos of user data owned by the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn. He argues, "Each site is a silo, walled off from the others. Yes, your site’s pages are on the Web, but your data are not."

He quite clearly sees the onus on us, as web users, to prevent this from happening. But I think it actually goes further than that. Data portability is certainly an issue, but friend data is at best transient and for any individual can become outdated in a year or two. Sure those awesome photos of your mate dressed as the Death Star may be stuck permanently in Facebook's database, but in a year or two, you're not going to care. Even the network of friends you build today is quite possibly a lot different than the one you'll create in 2 or 3 years time. This data is usually not critical and is, more importantly, replaceable. People left MySpace for Facebook and built new networks, and they can certainly leave Facebook for Diaspora or whatever comes up next. No, the real problem is Facebook becoming a defacto standard for your online identity. 

Many applications now provide the ability to log on to their system using Facebook Connect. In many cases, this is now the exclusive means of registering. Signing up to just about anything is becoming a simple matter of clicking the "Facebook Connect" button. For many of us, it's almost too tempting to take the quick route rather than signing up a whole new account with a new password. What we're not doing, however, is giving thought to what we're really doing. By joining something like Digg with that one click, we're permanently tying our Digg identity to our Facebook identity. Without thinking, we've made an implicit decision that our Facebook account will be active longer than our Digg account. From this point on, we can't delete our Facebook account without losing access to Digg as well. By doing this, we've all decided to make Facebook our permanent record, our online authentication protocol and our secure means of access to dozens of websites and applications.

Most of us sign up to a social network with little thought to the security behind it. Afterall, do I really care if someone knows what I did last summer? But if your Facebook account becomes your online passport, how secure is it? If your Facebook account is compromised how many sites does that hacker now have access to? How many sites can a hacker sign up to and assume your identity in the process? How many sites have your Credit Card stored securely for easy checkout? The hacker now has access to it all. The more ubiquitous Facebook becomes in your life, the more likely it is to be compromised and the more destructive it will be when it happens. What was originally a means to connect with friends, has become your single online identity. But you don't need a hacker installing malware on your PC. This an identity that is persistently logged in on your home laptop, your iPad, your iPhone and your work PC. Have you ever lost your phone or even just left your computer logged on at work? Someone now has access to everything you do online. Worse than that they even have a handy list of every website you're signed up to with Facebook Connect.  

Returning for a moment to the Star Wars analogy; remember when Jar Jar Binks voted to dissolve the Galactic Senate (thus handing control to Senator Palpatine) and you were screaming at your TV because everyone in the damned movie must have to be a complete and utter moron to not see it happening? Well...you just put Jar Jar Binks in charge of your online identity. Nice work dumbass.

These are all personal issues, things that affect the end user. I'm not proposing people go out deleting their Facebook accounts. Facebook connect is actually really handy. But what about the big picture? What happens when everybody on the Internet uses Facebook as their online identity? What happens when sites start offering Facebook Connect as the only means to sign up? Without realising it, you've made Facebook the sole authentication system for logging on to just about anything on the Internet. A closed-network owned by a private company now has a complete record of every site every person on the web visits. Think about that for a second. Remember that kid from that Social Network movie you saw the other day? He's holding all the keys to everything...literally.

The danger in Facebook isn't in that you can't take your friends elsewhere, the danger in Facebook is having it become a defacto standard means of authentication on the Web. Every time somebody hands the keys to their Blippy account over to Facebook, that is one more person who is now "stuck" with Facebook. You can decide to leave your social network behind, but if you use Facebook Connect, leaving Facebook also means leaving behind every account on any one of a hundred different websites. The barrier to entry is insignificant, yet the barrier to exit is so insurmountable that it's scary. It doesn't matter what the Diaspora project do. The social network is all but irrelevant now, it's the online authentication hook that is what will ensure Facebook survives any new up and comer. 

Of course, there are ways to stop this happening. As developers, we're the ones building the Death Star. Every time we add Facebook Connect, we're adding another piece of armour to make Facebook stronger, more powerful. Our users want Facebook Connect, and that is fine, but we have an obligation to give them a way out too. Some sites, like Groupon, give users the ability to disconnect their account from Facebook. You just add a password, and you can then just login manually. The problem is if I delete my Facebook account before I do this, I can't log in to Groupon to flick the switch! This is something akin to uninstalling Adobe Photoshop only to realise that you had to deactivate it first. Problem is now you can't deactivate it without it being installed, and you can't install it without deactivating it. Catch 22.

The real problem is having Facebook as a permanent centralised authentication system in the first place. It's one thing to "get started" with Facebook Connect, but an application should always provide another means of accessing the application without Facebook (even for those who connected with Connect in the first place). If Facebook becomes inaccessible, or we want to stop supporting Facebook, or even if Facebook stops supporting us, we need to have a solution ready to allow users to continue using our application without that reliance on Facebook Connect.

The goal here is to prevent Facebook "lock in" and I believe, the humble "forgot password" is the place to start. I'm putting forward the suggestion that applications that implement Facebook Connect should add a "login without Facebook" next to their "login with Facebook" link. This would work something like a "forgot password" function for Facebook users who no longer want to connect using Facebook. This would transparently modify their accounts to allow manual login and simultaneously perform a "forgot password" retrieval. The user gets an email with a link to create a password, and from then on they can use that to login instead of Facebook. Groupon is actually one site out there that is already subtly doing just this using their existing "forgot password" function, but it certainly isn't obvious. As time goes on, users are going to become more and aware of how much they're relying on Facebook for authentication, and eventually they're going to want out. It's up to us as developers to give them by providing that "out".

Of course, Facebook may have already worked this out. Now they want you to use Facebook for your email as well...can you see where I'm going with this?

We're building the Death Star, make no mistake. And every time a user signs up using Facebook Connect another Ewok dies. Do you want that on your conscience? We have an obligation to ensure that there are as many exposed shield generators and poorly positioned ventilations shafts as possible. Only by creating weaknesses in the Death Star as we assist in its construction can we ensure that some whiney kid in an X-Wing can destroy it when the world finally realises what we've built. As developers, it's our responsibility to make sure we don't contribute to the yet to be coined "Facebook lock-in". We must provide our users not only a means to use our applications without Facebook, but also a means to use our application should they have already stopped using Facebook. By perpetuating the need for Facebook logins in our applications, we perpetuate the security risk that Facebook Connect presents to our already over-connected users.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361769 2010-11-22T17:43:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Why you absolutely MUST write an API when you write your next app

I'm a bit of hacker. I've worked with serious software engineers, and I'm definitely not one of those, although I can be when it's required. They're the types that spend more time writing and talking about what they're going to code than they do actually coding it. The word engineer suits these types perfectly. A piece of software to them is constructed from piece by piece of pre-defined, pre-designed and pre-fabricated code. There is more art than science to what I do. I liken what I do to gardening more than building a bridge. To me, software is more of an organic thing and I start software the way I start in the garden. I pick up a shovel and start digging. Over time as plants grow (or die), the yard changes and you change with it. I'm not building bank software or landing planes. I'm building to an ever changing target, evolving my software to suit a need that is never well defined, never fully known. It's whatever I feel like making it.

The big disclaimer here is that sometimes I need to be an engineer. If I'm working for a client on a fixed price project, then obviously everything needs to be engineered to a certain goal. So I can work that way, I just prefer not to. My client work is structured and defined, my pet projects are the result of an ever evolving process of discovery and learning. Of course, that isn't to say you can forget about security, performance or reliability...but it means these things are just one part of an iterative process, not a project in themselves.

For the most part, not being constrained by things like "best practices" is a wonderful freedom. I think of something, and I start coding it. When I'm done, I might go back and tweak or even throw away the prototype and start again (kind of like how we're onto our second Japanese Maple, after the first one died). It's wonderful when you know nobody will ever look at your code, or discover your hacks, it allows you to solve problems now without worrying too much about later. It's like an author taking short cuts with facts, names and places instead of wasting time researching. It just gets in the way of writing the story. But there is a big problem with this type of development. What you gain in agility, you lose in portability. By coding for yourself, you're forgetting about everyone else. 

If you build a successful product, there is a fair chance that at some point you're going to need to get someone else involved. It may be as an employee joining your coding team, or showing a potential investor what you've been working on or it may be by releasing an API for others to integrate with your system. For the first time you're suddenly faced with that embarrassing feeling of your parents dropping in to visit...and it's the morning after a really really big party. It's at this point you suddenly regret all the shortcuts, the laziness, the hacks and the sambuca...oh Lord the sambuca!

That's where writing a public API from day 1 comes in.

You don't have to have your whole house neat, just the bits your parents are going to be seeing. Writing a public API as you develop your system forces you to keep a certain level of decency without constraining your ability to be agile elsewhere. By using your own API you also force yourself to follow the same rules that you expect others to follow when interfacing with your code. It prevents you taking shortcuts that you rightly wouldn't let anyone else take.

If you're an agile or "lean" developer, the one thing you never think about is what this app is going to need to do in the future. You're only ever worried about what it needs to do today. This means your code can evolve into a horrible flying spaghetti monster (if you believe in such things). What makes sense today, may not seem like such a good idea tomorrow. By having a well defined core API you have at least one part of your system (hopefully the important bit) that is well documented, well considered and well written. It's something akin to maintaining a tidy formal lounge whilst the rest of your house is being subjected to an ill-considered conga line.

When it eventually comes time to make your API public, it's already tested and known to work. You know what problems your users are likely to encounter, because you've already encountered them yourself. Best of all, you're not trying to shoehorn a heap of public points of access where they were never intended. Writing an API as you go means you solve a lot of problems before they ever happen...and all without having to think about it too much. The API is as flexible as you want it to be until the day you make it public.

As you grow your application, your API grows with it. The more reliable it becomes, the more likely you will turn to it rather than hacking in a new piece of code elsewhere. When new developers come on board they have something they can immediately recognise and understand. We're all terrible at documenting our code, but with a published API you all of a sudden are advertising what you're application does...you want it to be well documented. Your users won't stand for anything less. 

All of this is the main reason most developers recommend working on open source projects. Open source means everything you do is available for anyone to see. Hacks and cheats are found and highlighted by others, and hopefully you'll learn a better way in the process. You lose this benefit of peer review when you're working on your own private projects. Writing to your own API is the next best thing. Hacks look a whole lot worse when you have to document them for someone else.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361771 2010-11-22T05:03:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Minor UsabilityHub Update 22-Nov

UPDATE: This update has been postponed until tomorrow due to a minor, but time consuming to fix, issue.

We're releasing a small update today. Most of the changes are behind the scenes in preparation of some future developments. There are, however, some other changes as a result of these future changes. There are two main things to be aware of:

1. Test creation process. We've now made it easier to create a test and leave it sitting in a preview mode. This allows users to set up a test, and have it approved by others, or be able to work on several tests over a period of time before publishing them. We've also done this to support our upcoming API. In effect this has only involved splitting step 1 and step 2 of the test creation process and putting a publish button in the middle. 

2. Random test selection Our random test selection function was not only slow, but wasn't properly supporting international languages. Basically if you can understand a language other than English (the default) you would always be served an English test before we'd check if there were any tests in other languages waiting for results. We now treat all languages equally, so we will just serve you the next test that you've said you understand. This should mean our international users get results a fair bit quicker. It also means if you speak a language other than english, we'll be asking for your help to do those other tests more often than before. This does mean that English users may be presented with non-English tests if the test owner hasn't specifically forced the test to only include users of that language.

As always, if you have any issues with the update, drop us an email at support@usabilityhub.com

Thanks for your support!

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361777 2010-11-18T22:59:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Great Five Second Test demo video (by Blue Fountain Media)

I tripped over a great demo video of Five Second Test and UsabilityHub this morning and wanted to share it with everyone. It's better than our official one (no offence Matt!). Well worth a look if you have a few minutes and want to see the app in action. 

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361780 2010-11-15T15:55:35Z 2018-03-03T07:21:21Z Why indecision is worse than a bad decision

Indecision is the worst trait you can find in a startup founder. Actually, it's the worst trait you can find in anyone tasked with leading or shaping the direction of any company or project. Indecision, is simply delaying the making of a decision. Sounds reasonably obvious when you say it out load, but what isn't obvious is the implications of delaying a decision. Delaying a decision is effectively delaying work. Being indecisive is therefore no better than procrastination. Both are a barrier to getting things done. It doesn't matter whether you're running a startup, or just deciding on what to eat for lunch, indecision just makes things worse. Right now you may be stuck deciding what to eat, but in an hour's time your lunch break is over and you're bloody starving. Better to suck it up now and just have the damned noodles.

People are indecisive out of fear of making a bad decision. The logic goes that by delaying the decision, I can gather more information and then have a more informed opinion later. The information they're waiting for is really just something to either make them feel more secure in what they've already decided, or something to sway them away from something they don't want to decide. Either way, more information is unlikely to help. If you're in a position where you need to make a call now; make the call now. Looking at the menu for another ten minutes isn't going to make the noodles taste any better.

The absolute worst case is the person who delays a decision until it gets to a point that it simply becomes someone else's decision. If you meet someone like this, run the other way...especially if they're leading a team you're in. I've found myself in a position a couple of times where I've relied on someone above me in a company to make tough decisions.  In many cases the person just went on holiday, or avoided me for a week just to avoid the inevitable discussion, decision and implications. In the end, the hard tasks just fall to someone else often ill equipped to deal them. This lack of confidence in one's ability to make difficult decisions makes for poor leaders and, consequently, poor teams.

There are many reasonable sounding excuses for delays in decision making. Gathering information is one such reason and is often necessitous when making a decision. The danger in gathering too much information is when the information is being gathered simply to confirm a well known hypothesis. If it looks like someone in your team isn't pulling their weight, there is little point gathering evidence to confirm the fact. If they're not up to scratch, show them the door. The opposite case is the search for information to avoid a difficult, but necessary, choice. The reality is that if you look hard enough you can find information to confirm just about anything you like. Giving someone the opportunity to do so just gives them a chance to put weight behind a decision that everyone knows is wrong.

Another reason for indecision is when there doesn't appear to be a good option. Sometimes you're faced with a situation where you have two choices, and they're both bad. The natural inclination of most people is to simply delay making a decision in the hope that a better option comes along. Of course it's possible, but if a better option doesn't surface, you've likely left yourself with the same two choices you started with...except now you're a month poorer as well. Sometimes you just have to play the cards you're dealt.

Some time ago I watched a great video on youtube about indecision and inaction over global warming. The premise of the video is that we can act or not act, and global warming could be true or not true. There are therefore 4 possible outcomes, the best case being we act on global warming and it turns out to be true, and the worst case is that we don't act and it also turns out to be true. The interesting part about the video in this context, is arriving at how to decide if you should act.. 

Imagine we're provided with a situation where we may or may not have a major problem in our software; we'll use the infamous Y2K bug as an example. If we spend a heap of money investigating if our software is affected and it IS then we're all thrilled that we avoided disaster. Good decision! If it turns out that we weren't affected...well at least we know! That's still pretty good....even if it did cost us a truck load of time and money.

Now, let's imagine we didn't do anything. NYE rocks around and we're out partying the night away. Barry, our sysadmin calls us at midnight with the news. If everything is ok we all high-five each other and get on with the partying. If, on the other hand, all of our software is now dead, banks are going belly up, planes are crashing, toasters are exploding...well...we'd probably be in a really bad place. Here's a handy little chart with the possible outcomes from a situation like this.

In essence, when you have an unknown outcome it's always better to act than it is to not act. If you don't act and things go bad, they can go really bad. So what's this got to do with indecision? Well, indecision is the same as not acting. By not making a decision, you're in effect choosing the "don't act" column. By not acting, you're rolling the dice and hoping for the best, you're giving up any say in the matter, you're relinquishing control to some external power, you're crossing your fingers and toes. This isn't the way to deal with global warming, and it isn't the right way to run your business. If you have control, use it.

Difficult situations don't disappear. They just get worse. If you've got a bad employee causing problems, delaying the hard decision to give him the boot just increases the chances of him affecting those around him. If your website is losing you money, delaying the decision to pull the pin will just cost you even more. Decide early, and act swiftly.

So what's the worst that can happen if you make the wrong decision? The fact that you decided to do it means that it was the right decision at the time with the information you had. So it only became a bad decision when unknowns surfaced, or when something changed. When that happens, you simply make a new decision. That may be that you alter what you were doing slightly, or it may be that you scrap it in favour of a new path. Either way, by making a decision you forced an outcome. If you hadn't acted, those unknowns would still be unknown. By making decisions constantly based on the information available, you uncover newer information more quickly. Inaction rarely provides anything actionable.

Very rarely, you can make a call which turns out so horribly wrong that you wonder how you could ever have made such a stupid mistake. When this happens, talk it out. If your customers are pissed at you, get on the phone, email, twitter and talk to them. Apologise for your mistake and ask what you can do to make it better. If you broke something, let people know, and get help to fix it. It is highly unlikely that you'll ever make a mistake that you can't recover from. Put you hand up, own the error and start talking about how to fix it. Taking actions sometimes means taking risks, but without taking risks you will never achieve something great.

So when you're faced with a decision, look at your options, talk it over, experiment, research and ponder...but when you're done, make a decision. The sooner you get moving, the sooner you find out if you were right or not. The earlier you act, the more choices you will likely have available. Leave your decisions until the last minute, and you'll often find the options have dwindled significantly. 

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361781 2010-11-12T07:53:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Optimize, don't Organize: Part 7

Over the next week I will be giving out 7 (unedited) excerpts from an eBook I have in the works called Optimize, don't Organize. This is slightly less pretty than the eBook and doesn't contain any of the nice pictures or diagrams....but, as they say, you get what you pay for. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so by all means leave me some comments at the bottom of this page or contact me at alan@angrymonkeys.com.au or even Twitter @alandownie

Start at Part 1 of Optimize, don't Organize here


7. Sticky notes, and why they rock.

If you have a wall next to you (or even that whiteboard I told you not to use), sticky notes may well be your saviour.

It’s harder to escape your decisions.

A sticky note wall tends to promote a “first in, first out” mentality. The oldest and most important tasks tend to end up at the top of the list rather than at the bottom. For some reason when you added that task to the top, you considered it to be the most important. It probably still is, even if you don’t feel like doing it. Putting it off isn’t as easy as moving it to the bottom of the list, at least not unless you re-sort and re-evaluate the entire list (and even that’s not a bad thing).

Just because it’s new doesn’t make it more important.

We have a tendency to think that new tasks are more important than old ones. Someone jumps on the phone and tells us they need something done by the end of the day so we drop everything to get it done, forgetting that we have two other tasks that also need doing by the end of the day. Just because it’s newer, doesn’t make it more important. If anything, our older tasks should take priority. The sticky note list will tend to force you to put newer tasks below older ones. And if you really need to place it above your existing items, you have to be damned certain you want to raise the limit on “importance”, because eventually you’re going to run out of “higher” on your wall or whiteboard.

Sticky notes are only semi-permanent

My sticky notes are on a painted wall. The glue lasts about three or four weeks before the heater (or air-con) blows them off the wall. In reality, if I haven’t done a task that’s been on my list for three weeks, I’m probably not ever going to do it. When your notes fall on the floor, it forces you to re-evaluate them. Is this task worth rewriting on a new note, or should I just bin it?

Sticky notes are real

Taking down a task is a reward in itself. The little square of paper has texture and colour. If it’s been on your wall for a few weeks, you may have even gotten used to the quirkiness of whatever you wrote. It’s a real thing that existed in your little work space. It gives the task life and a sense of reality. Best of all, they’re something you can screw up into a tiny ball and take a shot at the nearest bin (or colleague’s head, whichever works). 


Previous chapters:

1. Don’t remember what you don’t need
2 - Work to your strengths, but remember your limitations.
3 - Too much information is a bad thing.
4 -  What's the worst that can happen?
5 - The better way to prioritize.
6 - Why task lists don't work.
7 - Sticky notes, and why they rock.
Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361783 2010-11-11T22:23:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Optimize, don't Organize: Part 6

Over the next week I will be giving out 7 (unedited) excerpts from an eBook I have in the works called Optimize, don't Organize. This is slightly less pretty than the eBook and doesn't contain any of the nice pictures or diagrams....but, as they say, you get what you pay for. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so by all means leave me some comments at the bottom of this page or contact me at alan@angrymonkeys.com.au or even Twitter @alandownie

Start at Part 1 of Optimize, don't Organize here

6. Why most task lists don’t work


As a rule, task lists don’t work. They become cluttered, out of date and full of things we never intend on doing. 

Why digital lists don’t work.

Digital lists are too easy to add to. We add things that aren’t important, things that we don’t need to remember and things we feel we “should” do, but never will. Worse than that is that tasks are too easy to strike off. With a click of a mouse or a swipe of a finger we can permanently erase our failure to complete something that we originally thought was important enough to add in the first place.  With every second person owning a smart phone, digital tasks lists are popular for their portability and convenience. Whilst it may be great to remember what you needed to buy down the shop, organizing your work in a digital list is always going to end in tears. If it’s too easy to fill with clutter, and too easy to remove our failures, we won’t trust it. If we don’t trust it, we won’t use it.

Why pen and paper doesn’t work.

I have too many notebooks. I take notes in meetings, I take notes on the phone and I take notes when I’m programming. I don’t need a todo list on my desk as well. Pen and paper tasks lists are also the worst for maintainability. As your tasks are crossed off your list becomes more and more messy. This either forces you to regularly rewrite your list, or to throw it out entirely. You can’t sort, you can’t undo, you scribble phone messages in the corner and worst of all you most likely can’t read your own writing. We write something down in a hurry and are later left wondering, “what’s ‘sulmif buffon’?”

Why whiteboards don’t work.

Whiteboards are the worst. Even someone with the best penmanship can’t write for shit on a whiteboard. The whiteboard suffers from all the same problems as pen and paper but without any of benefits. Possibly the only thing in favour of a whiteboard is also its biggest drawback - the ability to erase. It might be handy to be scrub off that completed task, but it’s also just as easy to accidently remove your whole weeks work. Somewhat contradictorily, whiteboards are also a magnet for old information. Unlike a paper list which we may eventually throw out, a whiteboard tends to collect things that nobody ever thinks to wipe off. Out of date information is the worst kind.


Coming up:

7 - Sticky notes, and why they rock.


Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361787 2010-11-11T05:17:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Optimize, don't Organize: Part 5

Over the next week I will be giving out 7 (unedited) excerpts from an eBook I have in the works called Optimize, don't Organize. This is slightly less pretty than the eBook and doesn't contain any of the nice pictures or diagrams....but, as they say, you get what you pay for. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so by all means leave me some comments at the bottom of this page or contact me at alan@angrymonkeys.com.au or even Twitter @alandownie

Start at Part 1 of Optimize, don't Organize here


5. The better way to prioritize.

The only thing you ever need to be concerned about is what you should be doing right now. Tomorrow’s list doesn’t help you right now. Worry about now now, and later later.

If something can wait, make it wait.

This doesn’t mean procrastinate or avoid things which really need to be done. It means something which has to be done today really should get done today. Priority isn’t always about relative importance. Sometimes the least significant job still needs to be done by COB today. The flip side of this is that if something doesn’t need to be done until next month, leave it till later. Don’t leave it to the last minute, but if you have something that needs doing sooner, do it...even if it just landed on your desk right now.

Clear junk in batches.

Sometimes you accumulate junk jobs. You need to renew your domain names, export your transaction statement, send that email to that guy from school, call back that person who left a message and then you have to take out the bloody bins. Rather than constantly interrupting your day with junk jobs, gather them up and do them in one morning. The danger with junk jobs is that they let you procrastinate. That 10 minute task can easily turn into a 30 minute task when you bookend it with Twittering. Set yourself three hours, and tick off one junk job after another. Once you’re done your list will be half the size and you can get on to doing the real work.

Do big tasks early.

Plenty of people suggest getting “quick wins” out of the way to build up momentum. This works sometimes, but more often than not clearing junk off your list before tackling a big job is just procrastination. Quick wins become more about seeming busy than they are about actually being busy. Worst of all, short tasks are the worst way to get into the zone. Big tasks, whilst hard to start, mean you’ll get more done in a shorter space of time.  You don’t need to be motivated to do the whole job, just motivated enough to start it.  The main reason to get your big tasks out of the way early is because they’re harder to finish when it comes to crunch time. If you’ve done all your big tasks, it'll be easier to find time to do the smaller ones at crunch time. That one big job you’ve got is unlikely to get any easier or any less important. Get it done first before moving on to the easy stuff.

Don’t do things in halves.

We all have to multi-task on occasion, but the reality is that we all suck at it. Dividing your attention between many tasks will make you less efficient overall. By concentrating on one task at a time, you’ll get all of them done a whole lot quicker. It is almost always quicker to knock over three full jobs than it is to complete six half-finished jobs. Working on one task at a time allows you to immerse yourself in that problem and see it through to completion. If you put it down only to have to pick it up again later, you have to relearn, rethink and remember. The less remembering we have to do for unfinished tasks, the more we can use our brains to remember more important things.


Coming up:

6 - Why task lists don't work.
7 - Sticky notes, and why they rock.


Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361791 2010-11-11T00:03:33Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Quick PAYG Update

We've a bit of feedback from people regarding the new PAYG system. The system we've implemented works great for existing users who just want to get a "top up" of results. Unfortunately, for our "free" users, it is somewhat cumbersome to have to sign up to a different plan (even if it is still free) and then choose how many Karma you want etc etc etc. Also, for some people, us keeping their credit card on file for a one off purchase, just doesn't gel. All of that is fair enough too.

Unfortunately, it's the best we can do within the Chargify system. So, we've done a complete backflip and we're reintroducing PayPal payments as of today. We're only using PayPal for "one off" purchase. Subscriptions will still be done through the existing system. We hope this makes it easier for those who asked and for those who are yet to find this feature!

If you've already switched to the PAYG plan, have no fear. It works no differently than the community plan. So you can stay on that if you wish. We're just stopping any new users joining that plan. If you want, you can switch back to the community plan, or back to a paid plan....or you can stay where you are!

If you have any queries, or concerns, please contact us at support@usabilityhub.com

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361795 2010-11-10T21:56:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Optimize, don't Organize: Part 4

Over the next week I will be giving out 7 (unedited) excerpts from an eBook I have in the works called Optimize, don't Organize. This is slightly less pretty than the eBook and doesn't contain any of the nice pictures or diagrams....but, as they say, you get what you pay for. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so by all means leave me some comments at the bottom of this page or contact me at alan@angrymonkeys.com.au or even Twitter @alandownie

Start at Part 1 of Optimize, don't Organize here

4. What’s the worst that can happen?

So what if you forget? What’s the worst that will happen? Do you really need to remember everything? Consider this before you add something to your todo list.

If it’s important, someone else will remind you.

In reality, there isn’t much you’ll need to remember that someone else isn’t also remembering. That’s not to say you should just become an unreliable slob, but it does mean if you DO forget something, someone will most likely let you know. I wouldn’t plan my life around forgetting everything, but it is a reality that you can get away with not trying to remember every little detail. The more important something is, the more people you’ll have knocking on your door for it. If you’re being reminded constantly about doing something, writing it down isn’t going to help you any more.

If it’s not important, why are you prioritising it?

A todo list is a list of things that you really MUST do. If it’s not a must, it shouldn’t be on your list. The quickest way to kill a list is to fill it with things you really have no intention of ever doing. If you add every little thing to it, you’ll quickly end up with a MAYBEDO list, not a TODO list. Nobody wants a MAYBEDO list; it just sounds stupid.

It’s important to you.

This is the one and only item that should be on your todo list. Your list is about you. That doesn’t mean you should fill your list with Golf, Video Games and Beer. Sometimes things that are important to you aren’t necessarily fun, but they still need to get done. If your list only has things which YOU find important on it, you’ll be far more motivated to tick things off. As soon as you hit an item that is for someone else, your list will fail. If it’s for someone else, let them put it on their list. However, buying flowers for your wife may be FOR her, but it’s still in YOUR best interests. The key here is that if you forget something on your own list, there will be no one to remind you, and you’ll only screw yourself over. The problem will be all yours. If that’s the case, put it on your list.


Coming up:

5 - The better way to prioritize.
6 - Why task lists don't work.
7 - Sticky notes, and why they rock.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361796 2010-11-09T14:42:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Optimize, don't Organize: Part 3

Over the next week I will be giving out 7 (unedited) excerpts from an eBook I have in the works called Optimize, don't Organize. This is slightly less pretty than the eBook and doesn't contain any of the nice pictures or diagrams....but, as they say, you get what you pay for. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so by all means leave me some comments at the bottom of this page or contact me at alan@angrymonkeys.com.au or even Twitter @alandownie

Start at Part 1 of Optimize, don't Organize here


3.Too much information is a bad thing.

If you don’t rely on your memory enough, you will get slow and lazy.  Conversely, if you try to remember too much, you end up remembering nothing. It's not only important to remember the right information, it's important to not overdo it. By trying to remember or learn more than you actually need, the important details can become lost in amongst the redundant details.

Information overload.

I remember at high school and university how much I’d laugh at people summarising text books. I can't think of a more useless activity. Some students would take a 400 page text book, and summarise it down to a 50 page set of notes and take that into an exam. These are the people that invariably don’t finish exams. They spend more time looking up examples than they do actually working. There is a balance. My “cheat sheet” only ever consisted of formulae that I really had no hope of remembering. While they were summarising, I was revising the application of these formulae. Everything in an exam is an application of knowledge. If you don’t trust yourself to hold that knowledge, how can you possibly hope to apply it? 

Long lists never last.

A mountain of notes, when finished, seems to be an insurmountable challenge. Similarly, long todo lists are more scary than they are helpful. In an attempt to get organized, the first thing everybody does is write down a todo list. Then they see a mountain of work and give up in disgust. Long lists are the world’s worst motivator. Yes it might feel good to tick a few items off, but when you feel like you’re not even scratching the surface it becomes a big turn off. You don’t even want to look at the list for the fear of rapid onset depression. The longer the list, the quicker you will drop it. If you must make a list, list the things that you need to do today or this week. Keep next month’s out of sight until next month.

Be selective about what you write down.

Some things you really should just remember. Your partner’s birthday, your computer password and when that “really important thing” is due are things you should probably be able to remember. If you need to write these things down to remember them, you’re going to find yourself in trouble. Over reliance on todo lists is as bad as not having one at all. As good as my wife is at organising, she can never remember our anniversary without looking it up first. One day you’ll be caught without your precious list, and then you'll find yourself red faced, or worse. Barring serious health concerns or a head injury you’ll always have your memory with you. Trust it...even if it is just a little bit. Over reliance on lists and notes just makes us lazy.

Coming up:

4 -  What's the worst that can happen?
5 - The better way to prioritize.
6 - Why task lists don't work.
7 - Sticky notes, and why they rock.


Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361800 2010-11-08T05:25:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Optimize, don't Organize: Part 2

Over the next week I will be giving out 7 (unedited) excerpts from an eBook I have in the works called Optimize, don't Organize. This is slightly less pretty than the eBook and doesn't contain any of the nice pictures or diagrams....but, as they say, you get what you pay for. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so by all means leave me some comments at the bottom of this page or contact me at alan@angrymonkeys.com.au or even Twitter @alandownie

Read Part 1 of Optimize, don't Organize here

2. Work to your strengths but remember your limitations.

I’m usually a great navigator. I refuse to buy a GPS, not because of some manly desire to always know the directions, but because it’s a fantastic mental exercise. I enjoy the test of looking at a map, remembering the route and then getting there. What's even better is being able to get to some new location a second time, without needing to look it up again. I don't have a great memory for details, but I have a great memory for generalities. Knowing this strength and weakness of mine is how I never get lost.

Remember the turn, not the name.

The usual method for navigation is to write down a step by step recipe, “Right at York, Left at Sayers” etc. Recalling these instructions not only involves remembering many distinct (and often peculiar) names, but it requires looking for itty bitty street signs whilst trying not to run over small animals or old ladies.

The problem with remembering specifics is that it's far too easy to get them wrong. This is especially true in suburbs where street names are often along a certain theme. Our suburb, for example, are named after New York streets. I grew up in a suburb where the street names were all native trees. The cues we use to remember words or names are easily confused when you're forced to pick one name from many thematically similar names. This is especially true when you see them one at a time instead of as a whole.

In reality, it’s far easier to remember to turn left after the sports ground, or right at first roundabout, or straight until you reach the school. In a broader context, it’s easier to remember generalities than it is to remember specifics, but more on that in a moment. It also means that once you've been to a location once, you have a visual memory of where to turn instead of just a name you need to try and recall. 

Know when you don’t know.

Before I go any further, if you’re lost, pull over and look at the damn map. Nothing will make you look like more of an imbecile than driving around protesting, “I’m sure it was a left at that last junction”. If you think you got it wrong, own up to it. Stop and have a look. Nobody will ever get angry at you for not knowing everything, but they will sure get pissed if you pretend you do.

In any situation, it's always better to say you need to look something up than to pretend you know. I've conducted possibly hundreds of job interviews of the years, and one trick that never failed me was to ask a candidate a question which they could not possibly remember. At least 80% of people try to prove their worth by having a guess, rambling incessantly and just hoping they hit the right answer or worse yet state a blatant untruth with absolute conviction in the hopes that if they believe it we will too. The 20% that say, "I don't know, I'd need to look it up" are the ones that get a big tick in my book. I'd rather work with someone who knows they don't know than someone who'd rather lead us all down the wrong path in an effort to impress.

Broad concepts are easier to recall than intricate details.

If you were to describe a movie plot to someone, you talk in broad terms about big ideas. It’s unlikely that when describing Die Hard (the first and best), that you’d feel the need to mention that it was in LA or that the protagonist's name was John McClane. What you’d more likely describe is, a cop, a terrorist, an office tower, explosives and hostages.  Even if you haven’t seen the movie in 20 years, that is enough for you to start recalling your own finer details about the movie. Therefore, rather than trying to recall specifics, recall the big picture stuff and let your subconscious fill in the gaps for you.

Just as remembering a sports ground is easier than remembering a street name, it's also easier to remember general programming concepts than it is to remember specific syntactic rules. It's the main reason why when a developer learns one language, they can often easily jump from one to the next. Once you learn how to create a loop in one language, applying that same knowledge anywhere else is simply a matter of looking the syntax specifics of that language.

In a wider sense, broad knowledge of how an internal combustion engine works is far more beneficial (and easier to learn) than it is to learn the specifics of a particular make and model of car. Before fuel injection engines came along, pretty much ever car worked the same way. If you had replaced the distributor off a Toyota, you could probably do the same on a Ford. Knowing exactly how a distributor works isn't as important as knowing that all cars have them.

Learn to apply, not to recall.

Unless you’re responsible for making split-second decisions in a critical scenario, you are most likely always going to have time to stop and look something up. It’s far better to learn how to research and apply knowledge than it is to remember things off the top of your head. This is especially true given the wonderful source of information and knowledge that is the Internet.  Whilst you may forget the specifics you learn today, you will still remember the general application of that knowledge in 20 years time. 

If you have put your efforts into learning general principles and broad concepts, when you are faced with a new problem at the detailed level, your broad knowledge will allow you to fill in the gaps. Being adaptable is about taking general learning, twisting it and making it fit a new situation. If, in school, you spent your time memorising the formula for Newton's Second Law (Force = Mass x Acceleration), it will assist you in solving exactly one problem. If instead of memorising the formula, you learned how it can be altered, rearranged and applied with other formulae, then whenever you're confronted with any one of a hundred different problems, you're understanding of the concepts behind it all would allow you to invent a means to solve the problem. Anyone who spent their time rote learning formulae failed to gain the ability to apply the formula they're remembering!

In short, it is always easy to look up specifics, and it is always hard to look up their application.

Coming up:

3 - Too much information is a bad thing.
4 -  What's the worst that can happen?
5 - The better way to prioritize.
6 - Why task lists don't work.
7 - Sticky notes, and why they rock.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361804 2010-11-07T22:07:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z UsabilityHub introduces Pay As You Go plan

We think we have pretty good value subscription plans. Not only are they cheap, you can cancel any time you like! You can pay $20, get your responses and immediately cancel, never to be charged again.

Alas, our users have spoken and you want Pay As You Go purchasing, and so that is what we've done. From today you can purchase Karma in bulk from your dashboard. If you're on the free plan, you can switch to the PAYG plan whenever you like and start buying results. If you're already a paid subscriber, you can even top up your account if you run low on quota. PAYG karma is a little more expensive than being on a subscription, but it does have the benefit of not expiring. If you're only an occasional user of UsabilitHub, this may be a great option for you.

The important thing to take into consideration is how we do the billing. We use a great service called Chargify.com for our payment system. Primarily it is a subscription tool, but it also allows one-off payments. The catch is that to do that, you need to be active subscriber....although not necessarily on a paid plan. What this means is that for us to bill you "one off" we have to sign you up to our subscription system. You don't have to pay us anything monthly, but it does mean we need to keep an active credit card on file to be able to bill you for your responses. The upside of this is that it's dead easy to buy more responses. Two clicks and you can continue testing.

I realise that this solution may not be for everyone, but it's the best we can do at the moment, and I hope it suits your needs. We're going to give this method a go for a while, but if the feedback is that customers would rather not go through this process (and would rather a traditional checkout system) we will look into doing that. At the moment Chargify don't support this sort of billing, so it'd mean we'd have to set up a new checkout. We'll see how we go.

Other things we've added in this update:

  • Tax Invoices/Receipts - Another down side of Chargify at the moment is that their invoice/receipt system is kinda non-existent. So we built our own! If you're a paying user, you can view and print your tax receipts from the Account section of the site. There is also a link under your account details on the dashboard.
  • Tour pages - We've updated our tour pages with some more information about how our tests work, what they're good for as well as a demo video of our to use each application. I hope this makes it a little clearer about how to make the most of our apps!
  • Private tests - Thanks to same great feedback, we've modified the way private tests are displayed. Basically we've cut way back on the "sharing" and "karma" type text and making it a lot more streamlined. This means you can send your users to do a test without worrying about them going off to do other tests or even worse, skipping the one you sent them to!
  • Forgot Password - We had quite a few people having problems with the Forgot Password function. We've rewritten it from scratch to ensure it works for everybody.

That's all for now, but don't think we're resting! We have a heap of other much-requested features in the works. Stay tuned!

Thanks to all of you for your support over the past couple of years, and particular in the last few months since we brought in our subscription system. The feedback has been fantastic!

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361808 2010-11-06T04:16:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Optimize, don't Organize: Part 1

Over the next week I will be giving out 7 (unedited) excerpts from an eBook I have in the works called Optimize, don't Organize. This is slightly less pretty than the eBook and doesn't contain any of the nice pictures or diagrams....but, as they say, you get what you pay for. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so by all means leave me some comments at the bottom of this page or contact me at alan@angrymonkeys.com.au or even Twitter @alandownie

1. Don’t remember what you don’t need

I drive some people crazy; especially my wife. To some people I seem forgetful and careless; to others I appear efficient and percipient. It all depends on the person and the context. I make a point to remember things which I need to remember, and I rely on people, resources and notes to cover the rest. Forgetting stuff I don't need leaves room for things I do need.

There’s no need to remember something someone else will. 

My wife is a list person. Everything we ever do individually, socially or financially is written down in a list somewhere. I don’t need to remember where we’ll be for lunch next week any more than a security guard needs to know “today’s specials” at K-mart. In the context of databases, we’re a highly normalized couple...but only in the context of databases. Just as she need not understand the inner workings of our Rancilio espresso machine, I need not know what we’re doing next Thursday at 6pm. This isn’t a matter of delegation; it’s a matter of playing to one's strengths...or to someone else’s as the case may be. 

There’s no need to remember something you don’t need to know. 

If you were to ask me what our quarterly tax bill is, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. There is little point in me remembering, or even knowing when our accountant has it more than under control. I have a vague inkling that my birthday is somewhere in September, but I’m damned sure to remember my wife’s and son’s. The point is, remembering things which we will never need to act on just fills our minds with information that will never be useful. Remembering all the capital cities of the world may make for a fun trick at dinner parties, but unless you're choosing "Cities of the World for $500", there is not otherwise a lot of point.

There’s no need to remember something you can look up. 

My domain is here in front of my computer, developing software. I have over 10 years experience doing just that. Surely by that measure, I’d be able to code blind in any of 5 different languages? Sorry to disappoint, but no. I tackle every problem on its merits. I rely on proven techniques, of course, but more frequently I refer to previous work done, or online resources. The recall of knowledge is far less important than its application. Besides, do you really think you can remember everything about a certain API, language or framework? Even if you could, it’d only be out of date next year, so why bother? There are certain tools or techniques which never date and are broadly applicable, these are worth remembering. But remembering specifics or minute details which may only server you once or twice in your programming life is a complete waste of space.

Be an expert on things you DO need to remember. 

Of course, it’s not all as easy as forgetting whatever you like. The idea of clearing space in the old memory banks is to make room for something else. In this case, when you’re expected to be an expert, you MUST be an expert. In situations when you can’t rely on someone else, you can’t look it up and you really DO need to know, then it is absolutely essential that you have the answer. It’s ok to be a slacker when it doesn’t matter, but when something is your responsibility and people look to you for the answer; you have a duty to those around you to know your stuff inside out. We're not all programmers, and we don't all of the Internet at our fingertips every day of the week. If you need to know your stuff, make sure you bloody well know it.

Coming up:

2 - Work to your strengths, but remember your limitations.
3 - Too much information is a bad thing.
4 -  What's the worst that can happen?
5 - The better way to prioritize.
6 - Why task lists don't work.
7 - Sticky notes, and why they rock.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361811 2010-11-03T06:08:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z What do you do when company X (or Z) copies your app?

It's the first question you'll be asked whenever you ask an investor for money, or if you're just doing SWOT analysis of your own product. It's also the first question you should ask yourself when you have that first great stroke of inspiration. The usual question is, "What would you do if Google copied your app?".

The answer is usually, "Panic!!". In the words of Douglas Adams, "Don't Panic". If you're building something cool, and someone copies you, it means you're on to a good thing. Stick with it!

We've had a lot of people ask us about Verify App and more specifically Clue app. They ask how cheesed we are that it looks to be a "direct copy of fivesecondtest.com". Plenty of people have even mentioned to us that their entire suite of "verify" apps are in one way or another "inspired" by our work. We've kept quiet about it for the past few months, because...well...frankly I don't care what they're doing. 

People keep asking me...so now I'm answering.

I wouldn't say they've stolen our apps. I don't believe it's possible to "steal" an idea, or a concept, or even an implementation. Sure their memory test runs exactly like our five second test, and sure they ask what 5 things you remember exactly like ours (and it's displayed the same way), and yes they display test results in exactly the same way with exactly the same bar chart with exactly the same grouping of keywords. The big difference is that their test is 5 and half seconds! Got to have something to differentiate I guess? Ideas are free, and they can take what they like and implement it how they like. I'm not going to get my nose out of joint about it (except when press call them innovative...that really pisses me off).

And about Verify App? Yes their label test works exactly like ours (which we ditched), and their click test works exactly like ours, and their preference test is exactly the same as our preference test (which we also ditched) and their multi-page click test is a (poor) copy of our Navflow app. I think they only app they've built that isn't like one we'd already built is the one that is based on their own Notable app (which is a great app I might add).  I've heard it all before, yes we know...yes it's annoying. But it's not like we invented any of those things. There are dozens of them around, and most of them in isolation are better than either Zurb's or ours, particularly those that do live web site testing.

Here's the thing though, none of it matters. Yes Zurb suck. Yes I hate them as much as I would hate anyone who sees something they like and pays wads of cash to get it. But it doesn't matter. They've already lost and they don't even know it. I laugh at them and their silly hats. I may sound like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but you can't say the guy didn't have balls.

The thing is, we've been in this space for well over 2 years now. We practically invented crowd sourced usability testing. We know this space better than anyone. We've spent 2 years learning the absolute best way to crowd source and deliver fast but useful usability testing. Zurb think they've got something over us, but in reality they don't. It amazes me the number of users on ClueApp that get ZERO responses. Yes, ZERO. And they want people to pay for that? Wow. The tests they've only just finished implementing, we've already ditched. They have a nicer interface than us, I'll give them that...but otherwise, they're way behind.

The real problem is that ClueApp.com is useless. Just as useless as our original five second test was. It's a gimmick, nothing more. Something you tweet about and people fill it in and you realise you've not learned a damned thing. We never intended it to be anything more, and I doubt Zurb do either. As a usability test, it's meaningless. We ditched our "label" test for the same reason. It was ineffective at communicating what could be done easier with Fivesecondtest or with our existing click test. We ditched the preference test because people invariably just clicked "the image on the left". We ditched the little bar chart in five second test results because it was hopeless at conveying widely varying responses. We ditched the simple "what do you remember" question because without context, any usability test is useless. If there is one thing you take away from this post, it's that you know your product better than anyone. Don't worry what the other guy is doing when you already know better.

Zurb don't even realise that before they've even started, half of their apps are completely and utterly worthless as real usability tests. (Sorry to break it to you guys!) I'm not saying that because I'm pissed that they "copied us". I'm saying that because we had these apps and made the decision to cull them from our tools. The ones that remained; we changed how they work over and over until we hit the magic spot. Zurb will do the same once they realise they got it wrong. Wait and see how long it takes them to move away from the bar graph to a tag cloud (thanks to DannyB for that suggestion).

We first saw VerifyApp a few months ago when Navflow.com was coming out of beta. I haven't looked at it since. I know Zurb are watching us. While they're watching, they're not innovating. As a startup, that's the thing you always need to keep in mind. The only interest we show in what they're doing is in the Press.We do what we can to hitch a ride on their press dollars. We got a good mentioned in a New York Times article about ClueApp without us spending a cent on marketing. They're doing it for us. That netted us a big bag of new customers. Whenever their marketing hounds push their way into TechCrunch or any other site we make sure we're there. Whenever one of their customers complain on Twitter about having no results, we're there to offer them an alternative. Best of all, we have our fans out their telling their stories and how they've enjoyed our apps, and to them we owe a great many thanks.

Yes, Zurb have got a bigger marketing team than us (we don't have one), they have more developers (we only have me), they have more designers (we just have Matt) and THAT is precisely the main reason they'll fail long before us. We know the market, and we know we can support a small team on what UsabilityHub and Fivesecondtest.com bring in. We're not making truckloads of cash, but we don't need to make truckloads. Zurb...well...they have to. We're in a highly competitive, low-priced, throw-away testing market. If they invested as much as it look like they invested....well...ouch! I'd hate to be at that meeting....

Matt and I both do consulting work as our main vocation, and run UsabilityHub because it's something we're passionate about. Zurb, on the other hand, are doing it to make money. Our knowledge of the market, and our knowledge of our users tells us where we need to be, and that is the only competitive edge we need over Zurb or anyone else.

So the moral of this story is, if you have a good idea someone will copy it, it's just a matter of when. If you're small, like us, you can listen to your users and change direction, you can spin on a dime, provide 1 on 1 service, and use your knowledge of your market to beat all newcomers. Be small, be fast, keep your product focused and most of all concentrate on what you're doing and not what your competitors are doing. 
Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361812 2010-09-15T10:08:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z UsabilityHub update: 6 Features in 6 Days

We've just updated UsabilityHub. We're calling this "your version". We've spent the last 6 days doing a heap of changes that have been requested by you, our users. There is pretty much nothing in here that didn't come from either an email, a tweet or from User Voice. Of course, we haven't gotten everything into this release. There are some more updates coming but, for now, this one is big enough! So we wanted to achieve two main goals with this update. Firstly, we wanted to start providing better value to our paying customers. So far you guys and girls have been paying us just for "responses", but now we want you to start getting some extra benefits for being in our elite little club of subscribers. Secondly, we wanted to start working towards creating better workflows for test owners. What you see here is really only phase 1, we have a lot more planned.  So here is a quick list of what's in this update for you!

  • Deleting Five second test responses - This is version 1 of deleting responses. This hides the response from your list, but you won't get a credit for the response. We hope to do something about that soon! For now, this will help tidy up your reports. The results will still appear in your export should you need them and are just appended with a bar | so you can filter them out manually.
  • Split Tests/Iterations - You can now create variations of tests. You can either use this as a means to do A/B testing where you just want to compare the performance of two different UIs at the same time. Or, you can use it to iterate and make changes one after the other over a period of time. Either way, the important thing is that any user will only be able to do ONE of the tests in the group. This not only means you get a wider group of testers, it also means you want get users feeling like they're doing duplicate tests.
  • Private tests  - Private tests now give you the option to have your referrals only do YOUR test (i.e. not be asked to go on to do another). This means they will be shown your test, and then a thank you page, and that's all. As we don't get the benefit of getting this user to go on to do more tests, these testers will count towards your requested responses, so make sure you allow for this when you send out your link. Of course, you can still get results for free by letting users do another test after yours!
  • Export! - You can now export your five second test results as a CSV to do with as you please. Huzzah!

Other updates:

  • Deleting half-finished tests - when you delete a half finished test, you will be refunded the unused responses.
  • Better cross-site integration - All tests are now managed from the one screen, and we're now making better use of projects to help you organise them. The new interface is a lot nicer, and hopefully will help get around your tests more quickly.
  • Loads of bug fixes...yes...we all have them.

We have another fairly major update coming in a few weeks time which will feature a load of other requests.  Among other things, this will include annotations and demographics (at last!). Any problems or feedback, please feel free to drop us a line at support@usabilityhub.com

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361815 2010-09-13T09:11:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z What are you basing your decisions on?

As more and more startups, entrepreneurs and VCs discover the value of having an audience, I've begun noticing an interesting trend in writing. Of late I've noticed the proliferation of a new type of blog post which has the sole intent of gaining page views by contradicting someone else.  It would appear that the best way to get people reading your article is to disagree (loudly) with a currently popular article. If I read an article today about how "free is dead", you can bet someone tomorrow will write an article about "how free is very much alive" (in this case, me). Although it's not immediately obvious it really proves to me the old adage "Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see". How can both articles be right if they're completely opposite points of view?

For every article out there that promotes working with remote teams, there is another article that says how horrible it is. In fact, pick any topic, and you'll find an article actively sprouting  the complete opposite point of view. This is a good thing, as it brings to light an important point. They can't both be right, so why are you believing that either is? The simple fact is that regardless of how factual, scientific or logical either article appears, they are almost always anecdotal, personal and opinionated. It's too easy to become brain washed by your RSS feed, and you really need to start questioning everything you read. Opinion does not equal fact, no matter how many followers the author may have! The simple fact is that being opinionated gets you page views. You really need to ask yourself whether the article you're reading is about teaching or about ad revenue. Being right is less about having the facts, and more about sounding like you have the facts. A good writer can have you believe anything they like. How believable their point of view is has more to do with their writing skills than it does with any actual facts they may present. I've often said that the only thing you need to know to be an expert is more than the person you're talking to.

People are sponges, and will absorb some pretty amazing crap if they feel that the person delivering it knows more than they do. It's for this reason that Jeff Goldblum has died several times over, as has Bill Cosby and, most famously, Mark Twain who famously wrote "The report of my death is an exaggeration". What's worse is that it only takes one reputable source to add to the spin, and that false information can quickly become relayed as fact. The greatest example of this that I can think of in recent times is a mockumentary called "Dark Side of the Moon". This is a wonderful piece of film which claims to prove that the moon landing was faked by the CIA with the help of film maker Stanley Kubrick.  Two things made this such a great success. First is the fact that an amazingly large portion of the community already believed this nonsense; Secondly, that it includes interviews with sources such as ex-US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Buzz Aldrin and even Stanley Kubricks widow, Christiane Kubrick. Faced with such well known faces, it is almost hard to NOT believe the story you're being sold. The magic of the documentary is that it gradually gets more and more absurd until you eventually reach your own conclusion that it is, in fact, a hoax... you've been conned. But what if the makers of Dark Side of the Moon never let on that it was a hoax? Millions of viewers would have walked away more convinced than ever that this absurd notion is actually true. Not only that, they would likely discuss their new found facts with others, even in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.

The simple fact is that people will read, listen, watch and believe without often questioning what they're being told...especially if it is from someone trustworthy. So getting back to our problem; if you read an article and make a decision based on what you've read, how sure are you that the information you're acting on is correct? The biggest complaint against the writings of 37Signals is that it purports to be fact, when in reality, it's based purely on the founders' own experience. Even if I show you stats on how much "method X" improved my sales, that's still just one person with one example. Just because it works for me, doesn't mean it will work for you. Shouldn't you check my theory before implementing it yourself?

So what can you do to stop getting yourself drowning in the ocean of "dumb facts"? Read more of them! If you read an article telling you that you should iterate as fast as possible, find an article that says that slow and steady is the way to go. If you read how meetings are waste of time, find an article on how to make better use of them. If you read that sharing your roadmap is a bad idea, find an article that says transparency is awesome. If you read my article on why Free Plans DO Work, read the article that inspired it. You can't call yourself informed unless you have both sides of the story. And if you can't find a contradictory article on your topic of choice, write your own because there is always another point of view.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361816 2010-09-09T11:50:26Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z The Top 5 reasons why Top 5 lists suck It seems every day I open my favourite news reader or Hacker News to see another Top X on something. It may be the Top 5 ways to earn your first million, or Top 7 secrets to being a successful startup, or Top 12 1/2 ways to win at life. Whatever it may be, they all suck. All of them. If ANY of the things these articles profess to help you achieve were as easy as having a 5 point plan, the people who write them would be on a boat in the Caribbean, not stuck in an office writing blog posts. I think it's great that everyone wants to share their experiences and their passion, but I worry that these "quick start" guides to "succeeding at anything" are misleading at best, and financially disastrous at worst. Here's why:

1. You can't distill success into a two-pager.

I can read music. I can read Mozart's music. That doesn't make me Mozart. If being successful was really as easy as following someone else's success story, then we'd all be successful. And we're not. Success takes more than a few key phrases, buzzwords and theories. Success takes hard work, passion, experience, knowledge and a healthy dose of luck; none of which can be gained from any blog post or top 5 list. No matter how much an author writes down, they're never going to capture the full truth behind their own success. Whilst every successful business has a clear vision and a strong leader, it is as much about the people they work with, their immediate environment and a plethora of external factors that  contribute to their success. Be inspired by an article, but don't use it as your bible. There is far more to success than anything that could ever be written down.

2.  What works for them, may not work for you.

Great ideas are just that, great ideas. Reading a blog post or book about how to run your business isn't going to help you if it isn't a natural fit. You can't take a grumpy old bastard of a manager, hand him "Re-work" and expect him all of a sudden to become the greatest manager on Earth. Equally, you can't change your entire business model just because you read an article that says subscriptions are the in-thing this year. Your business and your product are yours, all the advice in the world isn't going to change you or what you find to be most important. The worst thing we can do is play follow the leader blindly, hoping that what worked for him will work for us. It's great to see and learn from what philosophies other companies apply, but keep in mind that a business is more than just a bunch of concepts and ideas; it's real people with real capabilities and expectations. Similarly, your product isn't the same as my product. It's great for me to be sprouting the benefits of free users, but if you can't make use of free users, you are probably still better off ditching them for paid customers. Use your brain, no solution is going to be a one-size-fits-all panacea.

3. Experience trumps all

I know a lot of smart people, with a lot of smart theories, but they still couldn't run a business to save themselves. It's one thing to read about how to do something, but it's a whole different kettle of fish to have actually done it already. Running a startup is like playing in a band. You may strike it lucky and have the right combination of ideas, skill and people to hit the big time, but 99.9% of successful musical acts have people involved with them that have already been successful. Even The Beatles played thousands of hours of practice gigs before hitting the big time, and even before the Beatles, three of the Fab Four had been playing together for years. No amount of reading can take the place of years of knowledge gained from doing. The experience behind the Top 5 list is the valuable thing, not the Top 5 list itself.

4. Nothing worth doing comes easily

This is my main gripe with Top 5 lists. Top 5 lists break everything down into easy to follow, read it on your iPhone, attention grabbing headlines. The truth is that the only list worth reading is the one that says "work hard". Don't believe the "4 hour work week", don't believe "work smarter, not harder", and certainly don't believe there is a magic bullet theory to creating success. Go listen to your Grandparents, they had the right idea. Do an honest day's work every day, and you'll get there. You may not cash out for $190 million, but then most of us never will. Working hard will earn you enough to feed yourself and family, and still leave you money left over to enjoy your life. Rich will just make you fat and lazy anyway.

5. Do it your way

When all is said and done, you have to make your own mistakes to make your own successes. Following someone else's rulebook will never help you write your own. Get in there, give things a go and see what you can make of it. Who knows, you may find your own secret to success that you can write your own Top 5 list about.]]>
Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361761 2010-08-20T08:07:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:29Z Why free plans DO work

I frequently argue with Matt (the other UsabilityHub co-founder). More often than not it is for recreation, but occasionally we also argue about things that matter, like business decisions. Neither of us are business minded, neither of us have an MBA and this is the first time either of us have run a business. Still, I figure that makes us at least as qualified to have an opinion as anyone else. Our current topic of argument is the merits of free plans. With UsabilityHub we have a very big "free" user base.  For every 15 sign ups we get, only 1 or 2 will be for a paid account. On any given day, around two-thirds of our tests are created by "free" users. Our freemium model also means that around half of our support queries are from "free" users.

The current trend in the web product world is to ditch free or hide free . I read a great article on the topic yesterday. Ruben Gamez from Bidsketch makes some great points on why free doesn't work. Some companies are dropping free altogether (like his) and report upwards of 800% increases in revenue. Others demote their free plan to a teeny weeny little link beneath their regular plans in the hope of encouraging more users to select a premium plan. If you're going to have a free plan, be proud of it. Don't hide it. That just comes off as being sneaky. If you believe free is the way to go, have the balls to stand behind it. Free plans can work. Free plans DO work. Ditching your free plan will  most definitely NOT guarantee you an increase in sales. In fact, it may well be the worst thing you ever do.

For us, our biggest fans are our free users. Our paid users aren't nearly as vocal about our products as our non-paid ones. I've not once seen a Tweet saying, "hey everyone, look at this great $50 a month product", yet we frequently have blog posts, articles and tweets telling the world to check out our free product. "Free" puts us in direct contrast with every single one of our competitors. But that's not even the best part. Our free users ARE our product. Our usability testing is conducted by the same people that other companies don't want the hassle of dealing with. Our competitors charge hundreds of dollars per usability test, and thousands per year and yet you have to bring your own testers! You get given the tools, but you still have to source your own results. Madness! We leverage the goodwill of our community and in return give them free usability tests. It's a win-win-win situation, and we all know that is the best possible outcome.

It's easy to say that we're in a special position in this regard, but that's because we put ourselves here.  We created Fivesecondtest and our other UsabilityHub products from the ground up with this model in mind. Our free product isn't a demo or an artificially restricted version. It operates with a completely different dynamic, with a completely different set of users in mind. We don't expect our free users to upgrade. Think about it; If your project management tool works great for free with one 1 project, and I only have one project, then I will never ever buy your product. EVER. End of story.  To me, this is obvious. If you're doing freemium like this, then you're missing the point. Ok, so we know our free people will never upgrade. But rather than seeing them as a burden, we can actually leverage them. We can get value beyond dollars and cents. For example, if you're so concerned about offering support to free users, why are you doing it? Set up a forum for self-support. Let your free users help each other. You never need answer another support email again! You'll find that they're more than capable with very little input from you. Solve a problem once, don't spend every day of your life re-writing the same emails.

Free users are also a great marketing tool. You don't need 100,000 users to get value from word-of-mouth marketing. Make it part of your product. For our free users to get results more quickly, we ask that they tweet their tests, or post them to facebook, or even email them. By sharing their tests to 10 of their friends, not only do we not have to provide results for that test, but those new testers will go on to do even more tests. They may even sign up themselves and become a new customer. If they don't it doesn't matter, they've already performed a valuable service. Nearly half of our traffic comes Twitter and Facebook. That's word-of-mouth working wonders.

Just don't tack on these features as an afterthought, make it part of your product. Make it a tool for your free users. Make them want to advertise your product. Make them sing for their supper. But even if these methods don't work for you. If you've got a business that definitely cannot leverage it's user base, there are still options. The best option is one where the end-user doesn't even get to choose to upgrade or downgrade. They're simply on whatever plan their usage dictates. Chargify is a perfect example of this (we love Chargify btw). You don't pay a cent until you start doing 50 transactions a month. This low entry point has seen them pick up over 2300 signups in the half year that they've been out of beta. The best thing about it is that every one of their customers WANTS to pay them more money. If you're on the $749 a month plan, that means you have over 5000 paying subscribers. Who wouldn't want to pay $749 a month for that?

Rather than not offering a free product at all, why not make every customer a free customer and adjust your pricing so that they start paying you only when they start becoming a burden? Free is still a great way to get new customers. But you have to smart about it. There is no point offering your premium product for free and expecting people to want to pay you. Shareware doesn't work, and your product is not Shareware. Take the option away from the user. Either the free version is all they need and all they will ever need, or they absolutely must have your paid version no matter what. You can't have both. If your user can exercise choice between free and paid, you've done it wrong. Users will nearly always choose free, even if it means more hassle. If you're offering your customers these choices, you're doing it wrong:

  • Can I live with 5Gb for free instead of paying for 10Gb? WRONG!
  • Can I live with managing 5 clients at a time or do I need to pay for 15? WRONG!
  • Can I live with only 1 person having access or do I need to pay for 3? WRONG!

If a user is making that decision, they'll more than likely make do with the lesser option. You can't stop that behaviour. The best thing you can do is just accept that your free users will always be free users, and target them appropriately. Make your free product a product designed for free use. Don't use your free plans as a means to get users to upgrade unless your product is something which the user simply has no choice but to upgrade at some point (like Chargify).

Focus on gaining value from your free users and stop trying to get them to pay; they never will. I agree when Ruben says to stop blindly copying others. That's a great rule no matter whose blog you're reading this week. This week's "7 ways to riches" is always going to be different to next week's. Rather than blindly following this week's guru, stop and have a think about what works for YOUR product. I want you to put a little bit of thought into making real use of your free users, rather than seeing them simply as an upgrade path or a burden. Whilst it's true that a free user will most likely never upgrade, there are still plenty of ways free users can actually ADD value to your business, you just need to find them.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361763 2010-08-18T05:19:17Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z The Click Test is back! Due to overwhelming demand, the Click Test is back. When we launched the new version of Fivesecondtest.com, we did the one thing that you're always told never to do; "never remove a feature". We did that, and we're sorry. I hope today that we've rectified that mistake! The main reason the Click Test was was removed from Fivesecondtest.com was that we wanted to streamline the test creation and management process. By having multiple versions of the same test we were really restricting what we could do and where we could go with EITHER test. By splitting them out into two distinct applications, we can take the Click Test into an entirely new direction. What we have up right now is really version 0.5. It's really a bare bones version, without much in the way of additional features. This was intentional. As it was our users that demanded the return of the Click Test, we want our users to take part in shaping how it evolves from here.
  • Do you want keyword tagging like the old test?
  • Do you want to split results into Fast and Slow clicks, or who clicked where first?
  • Do you want a time limit on the test?
  • Do you want to restrict the number of times a user can click?
We want you, the user, to decide where it goes, and what features to include.

In other news:

This update also includes some other important changes. The most important of which is prioritising tests based on subscription. What this means is that users on the Team, Studio and Agency plans will get their results before other users. It's worth noting that Solo plan subscribers will also be prioritised over free users, but not nearly to the degree of the other plans. This is the first of many additions to give more value to our subscription plans. Keep an eye on this page for details on some of our upcoming features.]]>
Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361766 2010-08-04T13:48:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Day 2 update

So we've had a heap of great feedback from the community. I'm thrilled that we have so many passionate users!

We've made a few changes today in response to feedback, and we have a lot more changes coming. Nothing incredibly huge at the moment, but I just want to show that we're listening, and that we WANT your feedback, your praise and your hate mail.

Here is a short list of some of some of things we did today:

- Result sharing &nbsp;- You can now share your test results with others. In your test results page you'll see a new special link which you can safely share with others.

- Print friendly results - We've updated the CSS on the results page (and the new share page) to be printer friendly.

- Test sharing - We noticed that not many users are sharing their test links. This is the fastest way to get results, and also means you can target your own audience. This is especially true if you're conducting a test in your native language. To get people involved in doing this, we've added a prompt to get people sharing their tests.

- Random tests - We've added a new "random test" function in the dashboard to allow users to do ANY random test rather than just doing 5st or Navflow tests. This is heaps of fun!

- We've updated a lot of the links and redirects to stop users being taken back to the home page when they're logged in. Hopefully that alleviates some of the frustrations there!

- We fixed a heap of issues with IE7 that were preventing some users creating tests (sorry folks!)

- We've added "requested responses" to your test results page, so you can see how many responses you have remaining for your tests. e.g 3 of 20 responses.

We're still working hard on a lot of the other things that have been requested, and whilst we can't (or won't) make all the requested changes, it is important that you know that we are listening and we are actively creating solutions to problems you guys are having. I know we're not perfect, and I know we can't please everyone, but a lot of the requests we're getting are actually quite reasonable. Rest assure that we're doing everything we can do make this app what you want it to be. Please give us your feedback, we love hearing from you!

Stay tuned for more!

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361767 2010-08-02T06:57:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z New Fivesecondtest.com and Navflow.com

Well it took us a while, but we've finally launched. For the most part we actually finished these apps about 2 months ago. But we've spent the last 8-9 weeks messing around with merchant accounts and payment gateways. A lesson for all startups out there, sort your merchant account EARLY.

So we're up and running now, and everything seems to be running ok. A fairly major part of the installation was migrating users, their karma and their credit across to the new system from Fivesecondtest.com. Basically we have an entirely new system, with an entirely new way of managing credit, and so it took a little shoe-horning to get that in to place.


For those who aren't aware, all existing Karma has been migrated across to the new system. &nbsp;On the new site 1 Karma point is worth 1 result. &nbsp;You won't be able to make tests without karma, so

On the old site, when you spent $5 you got an additional 15 results. We've doubled that.&nbsp;Every token (or $5 credit) has been converted to 30 results on the new site. &nbsp;This has been given out in the form of Karma.

Unfortunately, all the Beta data for Navflow was deleted. This includes logins. About a third of our Navflow users are actually 5st users, which meant a whole heap of account duplications if we migrated everyone across. The remaining users signed up and didn't create any tests. So it made sense to just migrate 5st users across. I'm sorry to those who were having fun with Navflow, but unfortunately we had no choice.

New Features

The first MAJOR change in the new system is to Fivesecondtest.com. The click test is gone. Navflow is now the place to do click tests. We found that clicks were not an accurate way to gauge first impressions. Without context, and with a time limit, the click test was a little shaky. We think that navflow gives test authors far more flexibility to find out what they need to know without putting undue cognitive load on the end user.

Through a lot of feedback, and a lot of study, we've also changed the fivesecondtest memory to be a much more traditional and more flexible test. Rather than having unfocussed "what do you think?" type testing, we've now included the ability to ask up to 5 questions about the test image. The user is shown the image, and then you can test their recall about the image. The result is a significantly more targeted and quantifiable result. In time we will add additional tools to assist in benchmarking and iteration.


Navflow and Fivesecondtest are the first two apps in our suite of tools called Usability Hub. When you sign up to one or the other, you're actually signing up to UsabilityHub. One subscription fee will give you access to all of our apps now and in the future. &nbsp;Your subscription entitles you to a certain number of results per month, usable across any of the applications for as many tests as you want. Subscriptions start off from as low as $19 a month, and &nbsp;can be upgraded or cancelled at any time. No lock in.

As always, our apps are available for free to anyone who wants to help give feedback on other users' tests. Earn karma to create tests. One major change however, is that we no longer offer anonymous test creation. If you want to create tests, you'll need to sign up, participate in tests and earn the right to create your own tests. To make up for this, we give all new users 20 Karma to get started.

Well that's about it for now. I need a rest!

If you have any queries, shoot us an email at support@usabilityhub.com

Thanks for all support till now, and welcome to UsabilityHub!

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361773 2010-07-20T05:48:53Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Navflow Beta extended until the 30th of July A quick note, as a few people have asked, we are extending the Navflow Beta until the 30th of July. Please ensure you have concluded your testing and taken you results before then. We will still be deleting all beta test data from that date. The new version will be up on the 31st as planned.]]> Alan Downie tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361774 2010-07-15T12:08:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Major Update coming July 31st

Introducing UsabilityHub.com

On July 31st we'll be launching UsabilityHub.com. Usability Hub isn't much at the moment, just a pair of web apps really. But it is the start of something bigger and better than anything we've done to date.

The goal of UsabilityHub.com is to provide a place for designers and developer to work together,&nbsp;share ideas and help each other improve websites and applications. It's about providing a focal point for all things UX. We want it to be about more than just our applications, we want it to be a place where all designers can learn from each other, and help each other out. In the coming months we'll talk more about what our plans are, but for now let's just talk about what it means for our current applications.

Navflow Beta

Navflow.com beta will be &nbsp;finishing next week.&nbsp;<strong>All existing data will be deleted at the end of next week (23rd July).</strong> Where possible we will migrate user accounts across to the new system enabling you to keep your login in. Part of this migration is migrating our existing Fivesecondtest users. Obviously if there is a clash with your existing 5st account, we'll keep your 5st account in preference over the Navflow beta account.

Five Second Test

We have a completely new Five Second Test which you'll get to see very soon. Whilst we think our new site is better in all regards, we understand that a lot of people really like our existing system. Rather than delete it, &nbsp;we're going to let you continue to use it! The old fivesecondtest.com will be renamed to original.fivesecondtest.com.&nbsp;So if you're currently running tests there, don't be scared that it's all going to vapourise, you can keep on keeping on. Please keep in mind that the two systems are completely separate. Tests created in the old version are not available in the new, and vice versa.


Users with credit from Fivesecondtest.com will have their credit <strong>copied </strong>across to the new site. &nbsp;This will enable you to continue creating tests with the credit you have purchased on the old site until your credit runs out, at which point you'll need to sign up to one of the new plans (or keep creating free tests using karma!).

As the new site is subscription based, we have to migrated your credit to match the new system. We're using a fairly generous conversion to the new system to ensure everyone gets a good deal. The old 5st had a variable return on credit which moved from a high of around 25 responses per credit down to around 10. This meant that (depending on traffic) $5 credit bought a different amount of results. I thought it was cool, but the consensus was that it was all a bit weird. &nbsp;To keep this fair, all old tokens ($5) will be worth 30 responses in the new system. This means no matter when you bought your credit, you're getting a good value upgrade in the new system. What's more, we're going to let you keep your credit on original.fivesecondtest.com as well! So consider this a warm introduction to our new system!

Accessing old Five Second Tests

One of the big changes we're making is a complete revamp of Fivesecondtest.com. Click tests have been removed as Navflow will now concentrate on our "click tests" portion of testing. Our old Memory test is being shelved in favour of a new form of the Five Second Test which we feel gives better results and is better value for money than our old system. This means that old tests will not be viewable in the new site. Users wishing to get data will continue to be able to get it from original.fivesecondtest.com when we launch. This will be kept available indefinitely. If you really want, you can even continue using the old site.

The future of Usability Hub

What you'll see in the next few weeks is really only the beginning. We've worked long and hard to make fivesecondtest.com more user friendly and more business friendly. We've listened to our users - and to the experts - and we've improved how the test itself works. We've integrated two great products into one set of tools. But we're not finished.

These two new products are really fairly young, and we have a lot of upcoming features post-launch. So if they're not perfect for you right now, we hope in the coming months they will be.

These two applications are just the first in a suite of tools that we call Usability Hub. We have 3 more coming before the end of the year, and each additional tool will be available at no extra cost to subscribers. We hope to make Usability Hub the one stop shop for all things usability testing and design. We've still got a long way to go, but we think today is a big step in the right direction.

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361778 2010-06-01T11:20:08Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Go from .NET to Ruby in One day. For (and by) the complete Linux n00b There are 1001 guides out there for installing bits and pieces of Ruby, Linux or Rails. This is intended as an absolute beginners guide, specifically for Windows users who don't know jack about Linux, Ruby OR Rails. I'm a complete n00b at this. I spent a day or two trying to get this setup, finally worked it out and have gone back and done it all again whilst writing this guide on how I did it. I've tried to find the easiest way with the least complications. Advanced users will laugh at me, but they can go #&^$ themselves. If this whole setup wasn't so difficult to use, I wouldn't have needed to spend so long working out half of this stuff in the first place.  I hope it helps other .NET Ruby hopefuls, but please keep in mind, I am FAR from an expert, so comments/improvements/suggestions are more than welcome! I was issued something of a challenge last week: To write our next web app in Ruby. Not such a big deal right? I mean, it's just another language? Can't be that hard? I read this quickstart guide, and whilst Ruby is rather odd little language, it didn't appear to be anything that I couldn't handle. So, I decided to give it a go.. The first thing I'd suggest as a .NET developer of nearly 10 years, is that if you're seriously considering giving Ruby on Rails a go, I strongly suggest playing around with .NET MVC first. As a big fan of MVC, getting into Rails was a lot easier, as many of the concepts found in MVC were...well...stolen fromRails. If you're familiar with Models, Views, Controllers, lambda expressions, partials and all that stuff, Rails will be a breeze. Ruby is still an ugly SOB in my opinion...but at least Rails will feel familiar to you.

Step 1. Installing Linux.

You could use Cygwin, or even Windows, but I'd really suggest not. I tried this, and it's just a pain in the ass. Besides, you won't be using either in our production environment, so you best get used to Linux sooner rather than later! I chose Ubuntu, just because that's what came up in Google. If that statement doesn't make it clear, I'm a complete Linux beginner. I used Linux about 10 years ago, and haven't touched it since. So if lack of knowledge of Linux is what's been stopping you, have no fear. If I can manage it, anyone can. You have a couple of options to get up and running with Linux. Setup a new Linux box, or run a Virtual Machine. I didn't have a spare box lying around, so I chose the latter. So, first thing you'll need to do is go off and download Oracle VM VirtualBox and Ubuntu. Then mount the Ubuntu ISO as a virtual CD drive in Windows (there are plenty of apps to do this, google it). Install VirtualBox and create a New Machine, Call it Linux, choose Linux/Ubuntu as your OS Type. You can pretty safely click next repeatedly during the rest of the install. Once it has installed the VM, go to settings > storage. Click the little empty CD controller and from the CD/DVD device on the right, choose the drive which has your Linux ISO. Click ok and start up the VM. If you've done everything right to this point, Ubuntu should start installing. If it crashes because it can't find your ISO, go back and check your settings. Assuming you have a fairly standard machine, it should all install easily enough. Skip the language packs if you don't need them, they take forever to download and install. Once it has installed, you'll need to "power off" the VM, and remove the ISO so that Linux can boot. When you first get into Linux, it'll want to install a heap of updates...just let it. Ok, so If you're a Linux n00b like me, you wont even know where to start. In fact, you're probably wondering why the damned VM window is so small. To fix this, go to the Devices menu in VirtualBox, click the Install Guest Additions. This will mount another ISO in Linux. Go to Applications>Accessories>Terminal. Welcome to Linux's DOS prompt :P
cd /media
cd VBOXADDITIONS_3.2.0_61806/
(bit of a tip for the REAL n00bs...rather than typing the directory, just hit TAB and it will autocomplete)
sudo sh ./VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86.run
This will go off and install a heap of stuff to make Linux run nicer with your host environment....including allow you to have nicer screen resolutions. Once it is done, do a reboot. Couple of quick tips. Right Ctrl is your host key. Ctrl+F will give you fullscreen. That's it. Step 1 complete! The best part is that you haven't completely committed to using Linux, it's not too late to back out. You're only ever a delete key away from being back in the safe hands of Uncle Bill and his crazy Cousin Steve.

Step 2. Installing Ruby.

Unfortunately, that was the easy part. The next part caused me a lot of grief. I eventually worked it out, but only after a lot of Googling, and a lot of swearing and it turns out I didn't actually need to do most of it. Hopefully I can save you from the same fate. The first thing you need to know is, whenever Googling, resist the temptation to Cut and Paste helpful command line tips and tricks. These often include references to a specific version of a package, and can screw everything up real quick. If you need to install ANYTHING, make double sure that you've got the right version. The problem here is that so many versions of Ruby, Gems and Rails have come and gone, and the installation methods, requirements and problems are all different. This can be a major headache for Linux beginners! Even going through this the second time, I'm still running into issues! So, crack open the terminal again. If you haven't already guessed you'll spend a lot of time here! First thing to note is a command called "sudo". Sudo is the Linux verison of "run as administrator". Most of the commands you run for installation will be prefixed with this. It will prompt you with your admin password and then carry on. Second thing to note is that for the most part, you won't need to download anything from any third party website when doing installs.  Linux has a rather nifty package installer that gets and installs everything for you! If you're keen you can download source packages and compile them yourself, but we won't need to do any of that. So theoretically, Ubuntu should have most of what you need already, but we do need to go get a few bits and pieces. Make sure that the updater has finished before trying this, as it won't work if it is still running. The first thing you need is ruby.
sudo apt-get install ruby-full build-essential
Run this to make sure it installed ok.
ruby -v
This will print the version you just downloaded (hopefully!) This will go off and get the latest version of ruby and install it and a heap of other libraries for you.  Done! You've run your first Linux command and installed ruby! To install gems :
sudo apt-get install rubygems
Run this to make sure it installed ok
gem -v
While you're here, install the ruby-debug gem
gem install ruby-debug
Done and done.

Step 3. Installing Rails

Ok, so now we have ruby, and ruby gems. Now we need rails.
sudo apt-get install rails
Yeah...that's it. Now that all looks pretty simple, and you could've done most of it from the one line. But there are PLENTY of guides out there that will show you how wget your source packages, untar them, compile them, run them blah blah blah. Linux zealots want to know why people still use Windows over Linux? Have a read of your guides! You have to have a PhD in astrophysics just to learn how to run a web app!

Step 4.  Install your IDE

Given that you're a .NET developer, you're going to need an IDE. None of this command line editing BS. We'll be using Aptana Studio. Go here: http://www.aptana.org/studio/download Download the archive. You're most likely using Firefox, so you should be able to find the zip in the downloads folder. Extract the archive to your home directory. You can then run aptana directly from there. You can also create a shortcut in your Applications menu. In Ubuntu, go to Preferences > Main Menu > Programming. Click the New Item button. Fill in the details, navigate to Aptana executable and select it, and also click the icon to change it to the Aptana one. Click Ok, close. And check it out in your Applications menu! Great, that was easy! Well...not so fast! This is Linux! You can't install something so easily! You need to do some more command line hacking. Ubuntu doesn't come with Sun Java, which appears to be a prerequisite for Aptana. So now we need to install that. First we need to add the java repo:
sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://archive.canonical.com/ lucid partner"
Then get the updated list of files
sudo apt-get update
Then install Java
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jre
You can now run Aptana. Once you open Aptana, you'll also want to click on the Plugins button and install RadRails. It's pretty self explantory. That's about all you need to get up and running. If at this point, you're wondering "why the hell am I doing this???", I don't blame you!  We're nearly done...hang in there! At this point you should be able to run a pretty basic website. So this a good time to....

Step 5.  Watch a video

As you won't have installed it, you'll need to install curl before you get too far in the video, and mongrel (a webserver) too. Just run:
sudo apt-get install curl
sudo apt-get install mongrel
If you ever find yourself missing something, that's usually a good way to try to install it. This 15 minute video will take you about 2 hours to get through. With a bit of luck, everything you've done till now will see you through the video. Use Aptana as your text editor for the examples. You'll be pausing every ten seconds, but stick with it. By the end of it you'll understand why so many developers love RoR....even if you still think Ruby is a pile of poo (like me), you'll see how quick it is to get something up and running in Rails. Before watching the video, make sure you create yourself a code directory.
cd ~
mkdir code
cd code
And now enjoy the video! http://media.rubyonrails.org/video/rails_blog_2.mov

Step 6. What next?

The good news is, that if you got through the video and everything worked, then you have everything you need to create your first web app. One good thing about Ruby is that there is a plethora of resources out there to get you moving from here. The one major pitfall is that there are HEAPS of tutorials that are hopelessly out of date, and can not only lead you astray but cause you some serious headaches if you mess up your installation! There is a lot still to learn about RoR, especially for me, but I hope this is a good starting point. My goal was to write something that got ME up and running. I figure there are plenty of Windows developers out there (like me) that wouldn't have the foggiest idea where to start, so if that is you, I hope this has helped! Cheers, Alan]]>
Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361784 2010-05-04T08:05:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Fivesecondtest migration to Navflow system

As you all know we've been very busy building our new app called Navflow. What you may not know is that we've also been rebuilding Fivesecondtest.com as well! The new Fivesecondtest will sit along side Navflow as part of our new system called UsabilityHub.com. There are lot of changes as a result of this move. I can't talk about most of them just yet, but I DO need to give you a heads up about a few things. In the coming weeks we will be migrating a lot of data from the old site to the new site. All your user accounts, karma, credit and tests will be migrated across to the new system. 

A few days before we migrate, we'll turn off the ability to create new tests. You'll still get results for all your existing tests, and you'll still be able to do everything else. We're just turning off the test creation. During that week we'll be migrating all the data across, and we don't want anyone's test to vaporise. Most importantly, we want everyone to have their full quota of results BEFORE we move. There's a very good reason for this...but I can't tell you just yet!

Now, one other fairly major change is coming. We're moving from pay-per-test, to a subscription service. The main reason we want to do this is because as fivesecondtest users we want you to also have access to Navflow. Buying a subscription to one, will give you full access to the other. Our monthly pricing is pretty damned good value too. The best part is that we will allow you to create many tests each month for just a little more than one Gold test costs right now. Not only that but, you'll be able to mix and match your tests, and have much greater control over the number of results you want. Create a couple of fivesecondtests with 30 responses each, and maybe then go create a Navflow test with 40 results. Whatever you need! The best thing about these plans is that unused "value" from one month will roll over to the next month! I'll go into more detail about what "value" means in the coming weeks.

Now...an important notice to people who currently have credit with us! Your credit will be migrated to one of the new plans based on your current credit. Your plan won't automatically renew however. Given that our plans allow value to roll over, month to month, you will still have full access to the full value of your credit indefinitely. You can still use it up whenever you want! Of course, should you choose to sign up to a plan, the new value will be added to your existing total! 

This is all happening in the coming weeks. We'll keep you updated with news and changes! Thanks to everyone for your support, I hope you will enjoy the new Fivesecondtest.com as much as we've enjoyed building it!

Alan Downie
tag:blog.angrymonkeys.com.au,2013:Post/361786 2010-04-23T09:58:00Z 2013-10-08T16:39:30Z Navflow Beta 1.5 Update

I was hoping to announce the release of Beta 2 today, but alas, we can only really call this Beta 1.5! First thing's first, if you have any problems with the Navflow beta test, please contact us at support@navflow.com

There isn't a whole lot of "fun" stuff in this update. Mostly bug fixes, a few feature requests, and a LOT of behind the scenes work preparing for the migration of Fivesecondtest.com. We could've held off on releasing this until we'd had a lot of other "features" added, but we have some fairly important things to get out in this version. So what's here?

1. Karma - We're releasing the first iteration of what will become the new Karma system. This system is based on the same philosophy as the fivesecondtest.com karma system, but with some important distinctions. First of all, we're unlocking the amount of Karma you can earn in a day, and we're taking the cap off how many results you can get with Karma. As of right now, however, you NEED Karma to make tests. To get new users started, you will get 20 karma when you sign up. So you can go ahead and use that straight away to create a test. What this means in the future however, is that for every result you want for free, you need to help out someone else. At the moment, this is a free for all. But there are some "checks and balances" being put in place to prevent "gaming" the system. So be good for goodness sake!

2. Language support - This isn't full localisation unfortunately, but it does give you the ability to view tests that are in YOUR language. When users create a test, they let us know what language it is in, and then we only show that test to people who speak that language. This is based on your browser language, but for registered users is configurable from the settings page. Registered users will ONLY be shown tests for languages they've selected. Anonymous users, however, will be show tests in their language until there are none left, and then will start seeing international tests. Test owners can also set to only allow users who explicitly state they speak that language. Whilst this should significantly improve the quality of your results, this option could slow down the rate at which you receive results depending on what language you choose. As a result of this change, we'll be adding a lot of our international sign-ups later this week.

3. User dashboard - There have been a few comments about how the Navflow logo not taking users "home". This is actually because we hadn't finished our user dashboard page yet. It's now (mostly) finished. What this means is that if you're a registered user, you will no longer need to go to the front page of the site. You will be taken to your own dashboard showing you how much credit, karma and results you have. There is a lot more coming to this page, so stay tuned!

Ok well, that's the bulk of it. There are a lot of other minor changes, and a lot more to come. We'll be adding some more testers today, so if you are desperate to get into beta, email us at support@navflow.com and let us know! If you read all of this, you deserve to get in!

Alan Downie