Last week Avvo was honored as one of the best places to work by Seattle Business Magazine. A few of us attended the celebration at the Westin to represent Team Avvo. It was a great time to get together cross-team. Sales, Marketing, Biz Dev, Product, and Content were represented. I think you can tell by these photos that while our daily functions may differ, we all share the pride of working at an awesome company.
The world of online legal services is changing.
Mobile devices and increased access to the web are making this new world of services more accessible. The platforms enabling such services are also creating a new place for workers that is no longer defined by a desk or cubicle office.
While we have seen an explosion of labor marketplaces that make things like home cleaning and flower delivery a click away, these marketplaces are also moving in more sophisticated directions.
Our vision is that professional marketplaces will allow every individual to access the best legal services, while also providing a new home for great lawyers for whom the traditional desk with a library of books behind them is no longer a fit or an option.
Last week, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced that his company had removed its (impressive) collection of hundreds of patents from the trophy wall in their Palo Alto headquarters, “in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.” Tesla will continue to patent its inventions, but it will make the information available to others.
The 200-year-old US patent system exists “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
Here’s how it works, in a nutshell:
- US patents expire 20 years after they are filed
- This gives inventors some time to develop their ideas before getting overrun by large competitors (who presumably have more production resources and with the inventor’s plans in hand, could easily execute before him and be first to market)
- Once a patent expires, it’s a free-for-all: anyone can make use of the patented information
Still with me? Great. Let’s change topics for a sec.
In the world of digital technology, we rely on the concept of a feedback loop to innovate on our products. We theorize about what will work, we test it out (whether by interviewing users, sketching up a paper prototype, or building a minimum viable product), and then we study the results. The faster we can move through this loop, the more times we can gather information as we develop a product, and that translates to a better and more informed product. We can innovate in an afternoon, if we need to.
“If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal.” – Elon Musk
Hardware – and cars – don’t move at quite this pace, but the same principle applies: the faster your feedback loop, the more informed the product. The trouble is, given our current speed of technological innovation, products are deprecated long before their relevant patents become available for public use. New ones immediately take their place. At 20 years per cycle, this makes for molasses-slow, one-track innovation. And if that wasn’t slow enough, some patent holders are using litigation as a way to intentionally slow down their competitors. With much time and money going to defending patents, less time and money are going to innovation.
By making Tesla’s technological discoveries available to others, Musk hopes to speed up the feedback loop and stay true to the company’s goal: accelerate the advent of sustainable transport.
“If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal,” Musk writes. “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
Where acceleration is concerned, Tesla has another motive: production speed. The company has managed to put a tiny dent in the gasoline-fueled car industry; they want to do more. Bringing other car producers into the fold by offering them technology on a platter may help. Ultimately, having more players in the game will also accelerate the feedback loop.
It will be interesting to see what engineers do with this mandate. In the meantime, you can read more about Tesla Motors’ patents. Or, for truly gritty detail, peruse the patents of Nikola Tesla himself.
Here at Avvo, not only do we accidentally dress alike sometimes, but we also like a little friendly competition. Recently, when our friends in Marketing were prepping some clips, we couldn’t help but love the deep soothing sounds of the voice who says, “Avvo helps you make smarter legal decisions” on the videos. This, paired with a gong, meant that Tyler and I had all we needed for… a “Gong off!”
Here were the rules
Each participant (Tyler & Puja) must bring a track to the competition.
- Track must be less than 60 seconds
- Track must include the word “Avvo”
- Track must include a gong
The winner will hold FAME and FORTUNE for years to come!
Tyler’s (winning) track:
Earlier this week, the tech industry and its geeky gadget-loving followers paused to learn about the latest product news from Apple. This is the shiniest thing that comes out of Cupertino, California, and it’s presented on stage to an audience who managed to claim a ticket to one of the most highly-coveted events around – including one of our own! The news and opinions that come out of this fuel discussions for months to come.
One of the major product updates Apple announced was some pretty cool interoperability between the iPhone and MacOSX with the potential to really reshape what we can create with our consumers in mind. To date, the ability to seamlessly work cross-platform on our computers and smartphones has been a hacked experience at best. It’s pretty great to see something that can reduce the burden for those who are using smartphones on the go, and then trying to pick up on laptops to research complicated legal issues. Avvo.com receives 58% of its mobile traffic from an “iDevice.” But what if you use a Windows computer at work, an Android cell phone on the go, and a Mac at home? Beyond iPhones and such, Apple has now opened access to other platforms, such as Microsoft and third-party developers, which allows all sorts of systems to work together. For example, say you began reading about immigration laws on your phone. You will be able to continue directly from your desktop.
This is super impressive. Read More
This week we’re rolling out some small changes to the way we award points to attorneys. Points determine an attorney’s Contributor Levels and placement on the Leaderboard, which potential clients can use to gauge how active an attorney is on Avvo. We’re committed to making the point system as fair and useful as possible, and unfortunately a handful of attorneys have abused the current point system. We’ve implemented a few changes that should address those issues and allow the system to more accurately track attorneys’ real contributions.
Since Avvo launched in 2007, we’ve become the go-to legal resource for millions of consumers every month. That’s obviously also pretty great for the attorneys who are trying to help those consumers. And the Avvo Rating? It’s a big part of that consumer value.
We’re interested in learning about your use of lawyers and legal services, i.e. where, what, when & why. During the session you’ll give feedback on the process of paying for and receiving legal advice. If you are working on an estate plan or own a small business, you might be a good fit.
We are looking for both local participants in Seattle and folks across the country for a 1-hour session. You’ll receive a $50 Amazon gift card if you qualify and participate!
If you’re interested, or know someone who is, please contact Cristin Carey ASAP at cristin @ avvo.com or call her at 206-734-4110.
Because this research study can be done remotely, participants can be anywhere in the U.S.
Lawyers and UXers: send us your friends and family members!
We’ve made a few improvements for you.
As a Product Manager, I am fortunate enough to work with folks who are talented in all areas of research, design, marketing, development, and everything in between. It is even cooler when I get to collaborate with someone I have worked with in the past at a different company! I am super excited to share the work that Aaron Louie has led on a portion of our site. He has been one of the main proponents of creating a better experience for attorneys who are interested in what Avvo can do to help them establish their brand and become a visible contributor to our consumers. In a very short time, he worked with others to gain a strong understanding of what the needs are for lawyers, and a great appreciation for what Avvo does (and continues to do) to support our attorneys. Besides being a design ninja, he is also just a cool person who loves farming, bikes, and knows what just to order at every restaurant in the International District. Over to Aaron…
Don’t know? Using Ignite shows you how.
This week, Avvo Ignite is excited to release a new report for email drip campaigns. Now attorneys who are using the feature to schedule automatic email campaigns and follow up messages can see how well the emails are performing, i.e., how many potential clients actually view the emails.
I write every paragraph four times—once to get my meaning down, once to put in anything I have left out, once to take out anything that seems unnecessary, and once to make the whole thing sound as if I had only just thought of it.-Margery Allingham
Ignite Suite is a great solution for attorneys looking to intelligently organize, track and communicate with their incoming leads. And today it’s even better with the launch of customizable intake forms.
At Avvo, our product design process focuses on building products that truly solve problems for consumers and lawyers. We’re believers in following a Lean UX (User Experience) approach, which reduces wasted time and development effort by getting feedback as early as possible to see if we’re on the right track to begin with.
Despite being pretty busy with various projects, the members of our product team make it a habit to come together twice a month to have lunch. During these lunches, we talk about anything and everything under the sun that strikes us as interesting.
If you have been using Avvo for more than a couple of months, you may have—from time to time—noticed changes to a particular page or area of the site. Sometimes those changes stick, other times not. Today’s post gets into one of the things I do as a product manager: come up with changes to improve the experience on avvo.com for both attorneys and consumers. I’m going to take a look at one idea we came up with and the experiment we ran to see if the change actually improved things.
In the summer of 2012, it was announced that Avvo would be moving office locations for the fourth time in six years. We’ve zig-zagged all over downtown Seattle, and this latest move had us headed to the International District – just south of the downtown core. Moving is exhausting and exciting, and we keep doing it because we keep out-growing our spaces. We had maxed out the space in our last office to the point where any new hires would have had to sit on someone’s lap!
Hello, I’m the content manager for Avvo. I started working here about three years ago (Saint Patty’s Day is such a great day to start; add that in with the March Madness craze and the two together really make for a hell of a first impression of the company culture), and it’s been an interesting experience seeing the wide variety in the different kinds of content that attorneys create on the site.
I’d like to introduce you to Leigh McMillan, VP of marketing here at Avvo. Leigh asked us if she could share some breaking news on a new ad campaign, so we’re happy to give her the floor.
For some time, mankind has been known to consume products that aid in increasing memory, removing fatigue and depression, and looking younger. At Avvo, we don’t concern ourselves with such frivolous stuff. We’re focused on more important things, like giving an extra kick to the spice levels of our hot sauces to amuse and abuse our taste buds.
I’d like to introduce you to Scott Heric, one of the key members in our amazing team of Avvo Account Managers. We love working with Scott because everyday he has a smile on his face and energy in his step. Nothing frazzles this guy (probably due to his yoga practice) and he can figure out a solution to any problem. It’s because of this track record that Scott recently jumped into the position of Sr. Account Manager for Ignite. When he’s not answering questions about SEO and client conversion, you can find him on the basketball court or organizing events for charity—this guy knows how to throw a party! Scott asked us if he could share a bit about how the Account Management team works with everyone, so we’re happy to give him the floor.
Go ahead, I can wait.
You’re invited to the Lawyernomics 2013 Conference in Las Vegas.
Today is the last day to purchase your tickets at the early bird price.
It’s our fourth annual legal marketing conference and this year we’re at an exciting new location: the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!
Over the course of two days (April 26–27), you will hear technology leaders, digital media experts and web-savvy practicing attorneys cover everything you need to know about how to market your practice online. And it’s all taking place in a city that offers great dining, nightlife and recreation!
Brand and emotion go hand in hand. The feelings a product or service elicits from us can make or break its brand. We’re influenced by our moods, level of stress, color, smell, sound, past experiences, associations, and more. Despite how rational we think we are, our emotions influence decisions we make and the impressions that remain.
Emotional response is as important as task success in building long-term relationships with Avvo’s two communities: consumers and lawyers. Each group has different expectations and task goals for using Avvo. Usability and task success are key, but so is emotional response. Last year, we set out to define target emotions for each group that would guide our design process and help us begin to evolve the site’s colors and visual elements. We wanted our users to “feel” the right things. To do this, we used a variation of a method described by Carnegie Mellon professors Jonathan Cagan and Peter Boatwright in their excellent book, “Built To Love: Creating Products That Captivate Customers.”
Today, we’re making it easier.
A lot has changed since we launched Avvo nearly 6 years ago. Our goal was to shine a flashlight into a dark place. Clients of legal services didn’t have the information they needed to search, select, and hire great attorneys. We changed the game by giving consumers access to key information in a way that is easy to understand and use. We’ve since layered on an expert-only Q&A forum that just broke the 2 million answer mark. By offering a forum to prospective clients, it’s easier than ever to find a great lawyer. However, we think it can be even easier. Over half of those that have a legal problem choose not to hire a lawyer. And, in many of those cases, they’re making the wrong decision.
Hi, my name is Tim Ahlers, and I’m the new guy on the block—I joined the product management team at Avvo late last year.
I’ve spent most of the last 20 years building software—desktop, mobile and web, consumer, business and enterprise. What I hadn’t done is work on a large-scale, customer-facing website, and the opportunity to do that is one of the things that attracted me to Avvo. In addition to learning about a new industry and adding some new product management skills to my quiver, what I’ve enjoyed the most so far is getting to work with the great team of people here.
Hello. My name is Sachin Bhatia and I manage the product team at Avvo. I’d like to welcome you to the new Avvo Blog—thoughts, announcements, and explanations of the world of Avvo.
The reintroduction of the Avvo Blog is centered on our desire to have a dialogue about the products of Avvo. This blog hasn’t received much attention over the past few months; instead, we were actively pursuing conversations via webinars, Twitter, Facebook , and LinkedIn. We will remain active on those venues, as well as continuing to blog about consumer legal issues on NakedLaw, and the business side of the law on Lawyernomics.