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Responsive is in the Hands of Real Customers! Progress Update #2

Over 3 months ago I posted a screencast of the prototype we were working on for Responsive, mobile-ready pages in Unbounce. Being our number one requested feature this year, it got a lot of attention and I promised an update as we progressed. Well, I’m excited (like, reeeeally excited) to announce that as of yesterday morning we have officially rolled into an “Alpha” testing stage with a handful of customers building real responsive pages in our Page Builder!

I said “over 3 months ago” though, so just what have we been working on all this time? I’ll try and give an overview in this post and share some insight into the progress that we’ve made:

  1. Building our upcoming conference website to be responsive (aka “dogfooding”)
  2. Alphas & Betas: what do these these release milestones mean?
  3. Experimenting with auto-magically converting old pages into responsive ones…
  4. What’s next and how do I sign up?

1. Building our upcoming conference website to be responsive (aka “dogfooding”)

If you’re in the world of building products, you’ll be familiar with the term “eating your own dog food.” That’s where your company uses your own product to validate its quality and capabilities. Some people call it “drinking your own champagne” and others (well, one guy at Microsoft) tried to change it to “icecreaming” which just sounds weird to me.

Back in May we had the perfect opportunity to icecream our very own Responsive feature. Not too long ago, Stef wrote a post to announce our very first Marketing Conference in Vancouver this Fall. To go with the announcement we built the Call-to-Action Conference landing page in Unbounce and used our new feature to make sure the page looked great on mobile (go ahead, open it on your phone!) We call this phase of development the “Pre-Alpha” phase. I’ll tell you what that means in a second…

Now, while the feature was still quite buggy and required a fair amount of custom CSS to work around incomplete functionality, everything went pretty smoothly. We published the page, and then sat down with Matt Coady, our UI Dev who built the page, to find out what corners he had to cut to get the page working as designed. This helped us narrow down what we needed to do before moving into the next “Alpha” stage with real customers.

2. Alphas & Betas: what do these release milestones mean?

As you can imagine, we’ve released a fair amount of big features in the last 4+ years. Every time we do, we evolve our release milestones to include phases like “Alpha” or “Closed Beta.” This gets confusing as our team grows and we’re trying to define the requirements that fit into each release. For our own sake, I’ve outlined what these phases mean to us today:

  1. Proof-of-concept (Prototype)
    This milestone is pretty universal. This can be either a clickable prototype put together by the UX team, or a functioning piece of software showing the concept in working order. Typically we use these to communicate complex ideas to a wider audience internally, or to prove that a certain technical approach is feasible. At this phase customer involvement is limited to concept and usability testing.
  2. Pre-Alpha
    At this stage we are dog-fooding internally. There will be lots of bugs and missing functionality, but it will be easy to work around them since we know exactly what our team of dog-fooders are trying to achieve with the feature. When we experience the value first-hand and it outweighs the bugs and missing functionality, we can move on to the next milestone.
  3. Alpha
    A small group of power users are let in (~10 or so.) Enough to get some feedback from trusted customers, but not too many that we aren’t prepared to answer phone calls, emails or chats promptly and individually. There are still many bugs and some missing functionality, but things are evolving quickly at this stage.
  4. Closed Beta
    All known major bugs are gone and we feel comfortable letting 100+ customers in. At this point we should feel confident that we won’t be fielding issues for every customer in the beta, and that we have the resources necessary to inform about updates and changes. We should also have any required tracking in place to measure adoption and success of the feature.
  5. Open Beta
    We don’t do these too often (after Closed Beta we’ll often go straight to Public Launch,) but it can be a good idea when the release is a major re-design. The level of comfort around bugs and stability should be similar or better to the Closed Beta milestone, but this time we have a way for customers to opt themselves in and out of the beta. This might be in the form of a “Try out the new design” link in the app, along with a “Go back to the old design” link from the new version.
  6. Labs
    The Labs section (under the “Settings” tab) has been a great place for us to put functionality that might not be entirely validated at a conceptual level. Features that nobody asked for (Hyperspace Publishing anyone?) or behind-the-scenes improvements that we’ve yet to fully test out (Faster Page Serving for example.) Similar to both Open and Closed Betas, we should have a high degree of confidence that there are no known bugs with this feature.
  7. Public Launch
    All bugs are fixed and all required functionality is completely finished. If there has been an Open Beta period where customers were given the opportunity to opt-out, we have warned them in advance about the public launch where the “old version” will be discontinued. The CS team has created all necessary resources to support the new feature and the Marketing team has been given ample time to prepare a campaign. Launch the feature and rejoice!

3. Experimenting with auto-magically converting old pages into responsive ones…

When we’re ready for Public Launch, the plan is to convert all of our templates to be responsive so that building new mobile-ready pages is dead simple. What about the 220,000+ published pages that are currently live and not responsive though? The experience of converting those to be responsive can be a little painful today, as it’s a manual process that requires you to resize and re-position all the elements on your page.

To alleviate this, we’ve been looking at patterns in mobile layouts and trying to see what we can automate to convert your old desktop page into a responsive mobile-ready masterpiece. Our head magician (R&D), Justin Stacey, has put together a little screencast showing the proof-of-concept that he’s been working on to accomplish this:

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

We’re pretty excited with the results so far, and are hoping to roll this out to our Alpha testing group as quick as we can for feedback.

4. What’s next and how do I sign up?

Now that you know how our release milestones work, and that we’re currently in the “Alpha” phase as of yesterday morning, our next goal is to move into “Closed Beta” as quickly as possible. This will require fixing a few known bugs and implementing some improvements like the ability to enable or disable the mobile version of your page in case you’re not ready to publish it. Many of you have already been tagged in our system for Closed Beta access, but if you want to make sure we’ve heard from you just sign-up for access over here.

I hope that helps give a bit more of an overview of where we’re at and how excited we are for the next phase. We can’t thank you enough for your patience, and hope you can hang in there just a little longer while we iron out the remaining kinks. It will be worth it, I promise!


Carter Gilchrist
Co-founder, Director of Product & UX

 

  • http://georgiana.ca Georgiana Laudi

    Super exciting!! Thanks for updating everyone, Carter!

  • http://www.protel.net/ protel hotelsoftware

    Can’t wait to try this out (so have signed up for Beta…). So many of our visitors are on mobile – and it ties in well with our print campaigns (qr-to-landingpage). You guys rock!

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey guys, just added you to our Alpha, check your email!

      • http://www.protel.net/ protel hotelsoftware

        Thanks for the chance to help make Unbounce rock even more! We shall use it wisely…

        • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

          My pleasure, thanks for your ongoing encouragement!

  • https://lemonstand.com/ Danny Halarewich

    Woooooo! Really want to give this a try, as it’s currently really hard to create a seamless experience between our landing pages and our responsive website. We’re a fellow Vancouver tech startup, and would be delighted if you could squeak us into the beta :)

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey Danny, sorry for taking such a long time to respond! Awesome to have you guys as customers — I’ve added your account to the Alpha group so check your email for instructions on getting started. If you’re downtown this Friday and want to meet some of the team, check out our Open House! http://go.unbounce.com/openhouse/

  • Kenji Sano

    Maybe a partnership with Weebly would be easier. :P

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey Kenji, we haven’t partnered with Weebly yet, but I did add you to our Alpha list so check your email for some details on how to get started :)

  • http://www.thekeenteam.com/ Joshua Keen | The Keen Team

    Just signed up for the free trial. Currently a leadpages customer … your designs are nicer and have way more flexibility / control. But the lack of responsive in 2014 is a killer. I’ll be back around when this is launched. Until then…

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hi Joshua, we’re starting to expand our Alpha group to customers who have been with us for a while. However, we’ll soon be opening up to some new customers like yourself to get some feedback from the perspective of someone who is not as familiar with the tool as it stands today. Have you signed up for our Beta Access list yet (get.unbounce.com/responsive-beta-access/)? Let me know if you’d be open to evaluate and give us some feedback.

      • http://www.thekeenteam.com/ Joshua Keen | The Keen Team

        Just signed up for the beta access and would definitely be open to evaluating and providing feedback.

        • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

          Awesome, thanks Joshua! Will let you know when the next wave of Alpha invites go out.

          • Fahed Bizzari

            Please count me in as well. I am a new (paying) customer, but discovering this issue of non-responsiveness is causing buyer’s regret and I’m beginning to look for alternatives :(

          • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

            Will do Fahed!

  • Matt Mclelland

    Please get responsive!! this is killing me! I want so bad to run some big mobile campaigns.

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey Matt, just added you to you our Alpha list. Check your email!

  • Denni Griffith

    I’m on the beta for some clients but not others. Works great for me. Dying for the release to all pretty please! =D You’re saving me what feels like “unpaid” hours!

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      That’s awesome Denni! Let us know if there are some additional clients we can open it up for…

  • http://www.nextub.com Jose

    Hi Carter! Any chance to join the Alpha list? Right now the redirect is killing our statistics :(

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hi Jose, couldn’t find your account. Have you signed up here? get.unbounce.com/responsive-beta-access/

      If you have already, email me at carter[at]unbounce[dot]com with the email that you use to login.

      • http://www.nextub.com Jose

        Sent! :)

  • http://www.olegsomin.com/ Oleg Somin

    Hi, Carter! I’m a newcomer and try to covert our clinet’s standalone landings to Unbounce. But mostly it’s responsive and clients won’t to loose this feature even with much more new features given by unbounce. So please let me join your Alpha list. My login is badsmiley at gmail com. Regards,

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey Oleg, check your email!

  • http://www.conversionfox.com Matthias Funk

    Hi Carter,

    I’d love to take part with some clients of mine.
    I’ve registered already a while ago but didn’t get any response…

    Is there a chance to participate?
    Regards!
    Matthias

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey Matthias, check your email!

      • http://www.conversionfox.com Matthias Funk

        Many thanks!

  • Adam

    Carter. We signed up for the BETA and even had the icons on our pages notifying us we were html 5 enabled, but then they disappeared. Can we get added in: adam@addorecovery.com

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey Adam, I know we took care of this several days ago, but I forgot to respond here. Everything working ok for you so far?

  • dennisatpear

    HI Carter, We had signed up for the BETA with no response received. We a large amount of landing pages created on unbouce and would love not to have to change services but as our traffic has evolved into a mobile majority we can’t wait for this much longer. Please considering adding login – rachel@pearup.com so we can continue out relationship with unbounce. Thanks,

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      No problem, check your email and let me know if you don’t receive anything in the next 20mins or so. We’ll be officially kicking off “Beta” on Oct 2nd and opening the doors for anyone who has asked to-date. Happy to help out a little early though, thanks for waiting!

  • Chase Richards

    Hey Carter :) I’d love to be involved. I think I signed up at some point a while ago. My entire marketing department is asking me about this on a daily basis! Can you hook a brother up?

  • Raj Patel

    Was really hoping this was further along. What is the latest ETA? Just signed up for the Beta =( Bleeding money on SEM daily until this is in place.

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey Raj, I just made a comment over at https://getsatisfaction.com/unbounce/topics/responsive_design-b3izv#reply_14831097 about this—we are looking at launching to the public mid-November. However, we’ll be opening the doors to a beta for anyone who signed up over here get.unbounce.com/responsive-beta-access/ within the next week.

      I’ll be writing another update on this blog asap, but stay tuned for an invite right away…

      Cheers,
      Carter

      • Raj Patel

        Have signed up earlier today. Looking forward to the beta email this week!

        Thanks Carter.

        • Raj Patel

          Did the beta emails go out or we still waiting (not sure if we missed out?)

          • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

            Hey Raj, sorry for the delay. We were hoping to open the beta up on Friday, but that has been pushed to this coming Wednesday. Either way, I’ve found your account and enabled it for you so check your email for the getting started instructions. Thanks so much for your patience!

  • SuperProfs.com

    Hi Carter, I signed up for beta months ago but haven’t got access yet. I have been desperately waiting for Responsive feature. Can you please provide me access to beta?

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey there — check your email, you should have some instructions for getting started…

  • Fprince333

    Carter, how’s it coming along? Been about 3 months since this post and I’m anxious to hear about progress.

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hey there — last Thursday we moved from Alpha to Open Beta (you can read more about that here: https://getsatisfaction.com/unbounce/topics/announcing-mobile-responsive-open-beta-launch

      If you’d like access, just sign up over here and we’ll get you hooked up as soon as possible: get.unbounce.com/responsive-beta-access/

      The plan is to launch the feature publicly to all customers in about a month (mid-November.)

  • Joe

    It appears that the public launch has happened but I am not seeing the auto layout features mentioned in the video in my account. Are these features still on their way?

    • http://www.unbounce.com/ Carter Gilchrist

      Hi Joe, the “auto-layout” feature is still in development. We focused pretty hard towards the end of 2014 to get Mobile Responsive functionality out the door as it stands today, and we’ll be digging into the automation part hopefully in the first quarter of this year. No firm ETA yet, but fire me an email at carter [at] unbounce [dot] com and I can give you a sneak peek if you like. Cheers!