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A quick Google search for the word ‘automation’ quickly reveals the two contradictory sentiments that have dominated the narrative around it over the past decade.

As I write this, two separate Forbes articles are trending side by side on Google’s Top Stories; one a cautionary tale about the dangers of automation on employment, the other a research piece advocating for the quickest possible adoption of it. These contrasting rhetorics are the cornerstone of the media’s treatment of the term as something to be simultaneously revered and feared.

For those of us working in tech, running our own businesses or managing operations in any capacity, the adoption of automation has generally been more instinctive than deliberate. If you’re anything like me, your search for automation tools stemmed less from “I need to automate my entire business,” and more from “I don’t want to sit here and send personalized emails to 500 people based on their individual behaviours.” …


Here’s how to stop doing the boring stuff

Sometimes I’m lazy.

I don’t know if you are, but I always have been when something doesn’t interest me. My childhood nickname was “pumpkin head” (thank you my loving family), both because I was about as active as a pumpkin, and because I had a disproportionately large head (don’t worry, I grew into it).

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Probably me right now.

When I find something boring, I put it off, do it last minute, half-ass it, or just don’t even do it all.

The hidden benefit of being lazy is that it makes you really good at finding the least-effort way of doing the mundane repetitive tasks of life. …


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For the past few months, we spent a few $K a month testing out AdWords strategies for Paperform. The largest campaign was generating new trial users at under $4/trial, which, given our historically solid conversion rates from trial to paid users, should translate to a money making machine.

There was only one problem; trial users from AdWords didn’t convert to paid users. Literally the only paid conversion we received from any of our AdWords trial users over the past 3 months were for the search term “paper form”. What are the chances that these weren’t people already looking for us?

I have to admit, when I first double checked the conversion stats for leads from AdWords, I thought there must be something wrong with our tracking. I really wanted AdWords to be a viable, consistent source of leads for us. …


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As a developer turned SaaS co-founder, one of the things that really hit me early on is how integrated all aspects of growing a SaaS business really are.

Being one of a team of two we’ve had to take on multiple roles, many of which are new to us. One of the great outcomes of that experience, is that you are able to see similarities between traditionally distinct areas of business. Doing so can have a really positive effect on your business, allowing you to see patterns and apply methodologies and skills from one area to others.

An example of this is the rise in popularity of the “Growth Hacker”, which to me feels like what happens when developers have to market, or when marketers look into at how they can scale their methodologies with tech. One discipline cross-over that I didn’t see coming at Paperform however was support and user experience (UX). …


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One of the simplest hacks you can use to improve the performance of any marketing channel, is to reduce the number of steps required by your audience. We see this come into play all the time when building landing pages. For example, a few months ago we saw a several percentage bump in conversions by allowing users to register for a free trial on Paperform directly from the homepage, instead of clicking through to a dedicated registration page.

This got us thinking, what if we wanted to have this kind of functionality in our articles? Articles are (or at least should be), engaging and are the perfect opportunity to evoke a response. Obviously, we can embed our forms easily on our own blog, but we love writing and reading on Medium, so we are happy to announce that you can now embed Paperforms in Medium stories! …


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Thanks unsplash.com!

You’ve got this fantastic idea. This product that’s going to solve a big problem for a lot of people, but there is one thing holding you up! The answers to the big tech questions;

What language should I write this in?

What frameworks should I be using?

How can I build this to support the millions of users who will come flooding in when the realise how amazing my idea is?

Most product developers I know love to plan for the future, they want to build products that are simple, neat and logical, and will stay that way regardless of future shifts in scope and demand. Their heart is in the right place, after all, an hour of planning saves months of going in the wrong direction, right? Well, not really. …


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I love productivity. I love being productive. I love moving fast and breaking things™. But more than anything, I love feeling productive. In-fact, the reason I’m writing this right now is to scratch that “I should be doing something” itch. For me, there is one thing that I find genuinely makes me more productive than anything else: being intentional with every task. The following questions help me make that happen:

  1. Is there a way this process could be automated, at least in part?
    Do it once and then never again.
  2. Do I have to do this task? Can it be outsourced? After all, the most efficient task is the one that I don’t have to do.
    Outsource everything that can be outsourced.


How launching Paperform did not go to plan, and why it turned out to be a great thing.

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tl;dr

Our launch campaign exploded with a promotion deal on appsumo.com that sold thousands of times over, and wrapped up with over 950 up-votes on Product Hunt. How we got there wasn’t entirely intentional, but was beyond invaluable.

A bit of background

After a number of people we knew approached us to build web forms for their organisations, we realised there was a gap in the market for forms that are ‘bespoke’ for everyone. People needed a form creator that was easy and fast to use, and could fit seamlessly into their website. So, we started building a core product and generated some initial interest for Paperform in August by listing a private beta signup page on BetaList. About a month later we welcomed the first 200 test-users and started refining the product based on their feedback. We also did some intensive market research into the demographics we were attracting, and quite a few interviews with dedicated users. …


The experience of a web developer building an iPhone app.

About 6 months ago we were at a crossroads with our travel publishing platform Townske. Townske was officially launched on the web and we were ready to move on to developing and releasing an iOS app.

As we are rocking a development team of one, we didn’t want to have to put on a native iOS developer for a single app, and also didn’t want to outsource to a third party for development and maintenance. At that time I stumbled over Facebook’s announcement of React Native.

React Native is a framework that allows you to compose native UI with Facebook’s fantastic front end javascript framework React. We use React for the front end of townske.com, so the appeal of using the same framework for both native and web apps was strong. …

About

Dean McPherson

Co-Founder of Paperform.co. Maker of things. Going grey and loving it.

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