In August 2016, we released a new set of features that further set Instapage apart as the most powerful landing page solution on the market. The release of our grouping, alignment, and mobile aspect ratio features made Instapage the only landing page platform to offer the highest level of design speed and precision in one package.
Recently, I sat down with our Director of Product, Oliver Armstrong, to discuss the value of these new features and a bit about their product development process. In that same conversation, Armstrong explained how design workflows will be improved for those using these features and how to use them to maximize your productivity.
Here are a few of the more salient snippets of the conversation.
Q: One of the new features is a grouping function. Can you tell us a bit behind the motivation for creating that feature?
Oliver: Definitely. Before this grouping feature manipulating elements on the page, keeping a set of objects together, and other design steps took far too much time and mental effort to create the marketing experience our customers want to deliver.
Now, marketers can leverage the power of grouped elements using a feature that is common among the best design software, while still working with our intuitive landing page software. The grouping feature has proven to be very useful in cutting design time spent on your page — by as much as half.
Efficiency for our users is one of the things our product team really focuses on. We want marketers to spend their time where it’s most effective: telling compelling stories and creating powerful marketing campaigns, not worrying about learning or understanding the workflows that come with design software.
Q: How does locking the mobile aspect ratio contribute to this workflow?
Oliver: Locking the aspect ratio of a group is one of the cooler things we’ve done in this feature set. The first thing to understand about these changes is that when you’re grouping a set of objects, they are now automatically a mobile responsive element. This is an inherent characteristic of all groups. Even a complex array of elements will rearrange themselves in a web-standard mobile layout, simply by clicking the group button. The amount of time people will save using this feature can’t be understated.
The second change, and the one that I think is a truly unique feature that saves hours of design time, is the ability to lock the mobile aspect ratio of a group. This feature allows the marketer or designer who is building the page to take an arrangement of elements and choose to lock them in the exact layering and relative position they want. When you set a group to this mode, what you see on the desktop version is exactly the same on the mobile page version.
Q: Does this work with complex layering of groups and objects as well?
Oliver: Yes. More importantly, aspect ratio locked groups maintain their exact configuration as a unit when converted to mobile, but will behave responsively as if they are a single object when they are included inside a regular old group. This combination of behaviors makes it so our customers don’t have to spend a ton of time repositioning every new element of their design. Things largely end up right where you want them with only a little tweaking here or there if you want to.
Q: That’s awesome. I imagine that saves a ton of time as well. Is that correct?
Oliver: Yes, in the greater context of what you’re building, this effectively allows you the flexibility to choose what parts of the design you want to be responsive, and what parts you want to stay exactly as they are with far greater efficiency.
The mobile aspect ratio lock is a very unique solution that we’ve introduced to tackle an industry wide problem. It’s something that doesn’t exist in the design or web development community anywhere and it starts to blur the line between graphic design software and live web design.
Q: Speaking of efficiency, can you tell us a bit about the new alignment feature?
Oliver: Absolutely, one of the things we quickly saw as an opportunity for increasing the efficiency of getting a landing page live is the ability to quickly align elements.
It’s important to note that, even though there are many elements on a page that might appear to be aligned with one another, it is really difficult to get every object perfectly aligned by eye.
Pixel perfect alignment is important because there can be a strong subconscious effect on a visitor when everything on the page is slightly misaligned. Almost a sense of clutter or disorganization that can subtly affect your brand perception.
On that note, we’ve also made great improvements to the green-line guiders you see when manually aligning things, but it’s not a super fast way to align multiple elements together.
We don’t want you to have to spend an unnecessary or inordinate amount of time moving around specific elements within a page just to get it live. That time would be far better spent on the creative decisions around the story you are telling that will resonate and engage with your visitors.
Q: How important is that pixel perfect alignment?
Oliver: We recognize that our users — a lot of designers, marketers, and agencies — have very specific levels of brand consistency they are looking to follow.
For many designers, marketers, and agencies, pixel-perfect alignment makes all the difference in the world. That includes our team at Instapage. We strive for perfection. And we want our software to provide that level of precision quickly without having to use workarounds or browser extensions. It’s very important for us to honor that need for pixel perfect design.
Q: Are there any other new features that you’ve added in this most recent update?
Oliver: Yes, the ability to copy and paste across browser tabs. This one is a massive upgrade in time saved for the power user. If you’ve got a great page your team has designed that is user centric, converts really well, and you want to repeat some of those patterns on another page or template you’re designing, it’s very easy to do.
Just open the pages up in another tab, select everything you want to use, and copy and paste them into a blank section on your new page.
Q: What’s the process by which you come up with new features?
Oliver: There are a lot of ways new features come onto our radar, but our customer support team is a huge part of our feature development. I have nothing but incredible things to say about them. Our email response times, and every other metric that you would use to measure their success, are crushing industry standards. They are rock stars, and one of the things that makes them rock stars is their ability to have dialogue with our customers that not only solves our customers problems, but provides real qualitative and quantitative information as well.
That dialogue doesn’t just end there, it carries through to our product and marketing teams. Everybody in these teams has some level of one-on-one conversation with customer support in the course of our responsibilities. Often on a daily basis, sometimes for hours if necessary. We share information constantly.
Q: That’s not something you find with every technology company, correct?
Oliver: That’s right. In a lot of companies, particularly when it comes to product development and assuming there’s healthy communication in the first place, the product team acts as some sort of filter or buffer in between customer support and the rest of the team. Then, someone makes a decision about what’s important and it goes to engineering.
But our process is more of a triangle of communication. It’s closer to three legs of a stool supporting the needs of our users. You’re not going to get very far if you try to put one of the legs in the middle of the other two.
Since our whole company has pretty constant dialogue with each other, there’s no gatekeeper in the way of executing great ideas. Of course feedback about features or functionality are well processed and prioritized, but totally transparent communication with customer support allows our whole company to be in touch with our customer’s needs.
At the end of the day, our customers and anyone using our product, are the only people in the world that matter. Our customer success team talks to them every single day, and we all listen.
Q: And development is also driven by direct conversations with our users, right?
Oliver: Yes, on the other side of that coin, our product team is talking to our users and identifying the core problems people have with landing page marketing, beyond just the nuts and bolts of working with the software. That’s where these new grouping, alignment, and mobile design features came from — the real world needs of marketers using our product on a daily basis.
At the end of the day, your time should be spent better marketing your business or product. Time well spent crafting a message that resonates with your customers, not endlessly fooling around with getting things onto the page. We want our users, and even members of our own marketing team, to spend the time to build the perfect page, and be ready to spread the word to the rest of the world without having to duplicate all that work on a mobile version of their page.
That is a real and substantial problem solved with this set of features. And that solution comes from the in-depth conversations our customer service and product teams have with our customers every single day.
For more information on our new design features, check out the official blog announcement.