Our vision is to make you brilliant with people. Not just good, not just effective, but actually brilliant. That's our dream.
Since we accidentally launched, we have relentlessly pursued this vision, integrating LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and your address book right into your email.
During our partnership with LinkedIn, we got to know them very well. We found a great overlap between our visions. We found a high-calibre and extremely driven team. We found, crucially, a "members-first" company: everything that LinkedIn does is about making its members more successful.
In business, partnership is dating — and we went on a lot of dates with LinkedIn. Slowly, but surely, we fell in love.
Today, we are simply thrilled to announce that Rapportive is now part of LinkedIn!
Rapportive for Gmail
Over the last two years, Rapportive has become an essential product for folks all around the world. When rumours of our acquisition surfaced last week, many asked what was going to happen to the product. Well, we have fantastic news: at LinkedIn, we will support Rapportive, and we will continue to build beautiful products that make you brilliant with people.
The highlight of this journey has been our interactions with you — our amazing users who choose Rapportive day after day. We love you, love you all.
Thank you so much. You're the reason why we do this.
We are completely beside ourselves with excitement. I have so much I want to tell you, and so much I want to show you. But I need to restrain myself — there'll be time for that later. For now, let me leave you with one last thought.
A company, at its core, is a set of beliefs united by a vision. When we founded Rapportive, we had one simple belief: we would build software that you don't have to remember to use. Our software would be an intrinsic part of the tools you use every day. It would be there when you want it, and out of the way when you don't.
You can convey this idea in so few words; it is so deceptively easy to describe, but it is so vitally important. Because when you do this — when you build software into the very fabric of the world around us, when you remove friction from the things that people want to do — something magical happens.
You enable people to change their own behaviour. You empower people to become better at what they do. And if you get enough people to do that, you might just change the world.
Speaking of which, we've got work to do! 'Til next time :)
You can immediately see what people look like, where they are based, and what they do. You can establish rapport by mentioning shared interests. And you can grow your network by connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more.
But what about when you send email?
When you start a new conversation, Gmail itself doesn't help at all:
You're emailing Conrad, but you are flying blind.
Where is he? What's he doing? What's he thinking?
What's going on in Conrad's life?
It would be tremendously useful to have Rapportive right here:
Today, we are super-excited to deliver one of our most requested features: you can now use Rapportive when you are composing an email.
By using Rapportive before you email, you can be more astute, personal, and effective. You can find ways to break the ice, topics to bond over, and reasons to get in touch with people. You can even make small gestures such as liking Facebook posts and following on Twitter.
We've been testing this ourselves for a few weeks, and it's already changed the way we write email. We think you'll like it too!
We're gradually rolling the feature out to everybody. But if you can't wait, feel free to upgrade instantly here: rapportive.com/compose :)
We want Rapportive to be the best way for you to connect with your contacts. This is why, since our accidental launch, we've shown your contacts' recent tweets:
Our Twitter widget has always given you valuable context at a glance: you can mention the recent tweets, bring up shared interests, or even plan to meet at an event.
Although the recent tweets were very useful, we gave you no way to interact on Twitter itself. Yet to fully understand your contacts, you have to be where your contacts are. You have to chat where they chat, learn where they learn, and play where they play.
If your contacts tweet, so should you.
Today, our Twitter widget gets a massive upgrade. You can now follow, reply, and retweet — all without leaving Gmail!
We'll even show our new widget on Twitter notifications: when somebody follows, mentions, or DMs you, we'll show you their recent tweets and a button to follow back!
We're gradually rolling the new widget out to everybody. But if you want it right now, you can get early access here: rapportive.com/twitter :)
Google has just announced a new feature in Gmail called the "People Widget". The widget is a sidebar which shows you job titles, calendar availability, recent conversations, shared Google Docs, and Buzz updates:
We're very flattered by how similar the widget is to Rapportive. In fact, some of the design details have been copied directly, from the new position of the "print" and "new window" icons, through to how the widget remains onscreen as you scroll. It feels downright awesome to impact such a widely used product!
In case you don't already use it, Rapportive adds rich contact profiles to Gmail. You can immediately see what people look like, where they're based, and what they do. You can establish rapport by mentioning shared interests. You can grow your network by connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more. And you can record thoughts for later by leaving private notes.
You will notice that the widget occupies the same place in Gmail as Rapportive. As you can imagine, we've been inundated with questions on this. Should you use Rapportive? Should you use the People Widget? Will they both work together?
The answers are: yes, you should use Rapportive (of course), and yes, you should use the People Widget (it's pretty great), and yes, they will both work together (surprise!).
That's right: you need not choose between Rapportive and the widget, as we have integrated it right into Rapportive.
Here it is (watch fullscreen to win):
You can hover over names to lookup people. You can see recent conversations. You can see shared Google Docs. You can fire up a Google Chat. You can edit your contacts in Google Contacts. You can even click a phone number to call it with Google Voice. And you can do all of this right from Rapportive.
The widget is still rolling out, so you may not see all these features immediately. As soon as you get the widget, you'll get the new Rapportive features. All you have to do is wait.
Rapportive will always make the best of its environment: as Gmail improves, so will Rapportive, and so will your experience.
Today, we are launching a new design for Rapportive! We put a huge amount of effort into this design, because we deeply believe in great user experience, and we know that our users really appreciate it too.
Here it is (make sure to watch it fullscreen):
We'd like to open the kimono and share our journey with you.
The Problem: Long Sidebars
Our previous design, in use since launch, has served us well. It was subtle, effective, and blended in with Gmail. But it was also beginning to show limitations:
If you were using a netbook or a portable laptop, the Rapportive sidebar would often be too tall to fit on screen. We hooked into the Gmail scrollbar, but you would have to scroll to the end of the conversation to see the end of the Rapportive sidebar: on a very long conversation, you had to scroll a very long way. This was really annoying.
Different people love different parts of the sidebar: some find recent tweets most useful; others swear by our CRM raplets; others leave lots of notes about their contacts. It would suck if the part you most love scrolls offscreen because the other parts take all the space.
These three points have a common theme: we do not handle long sidebars well.
How long can a sidebar get? Well, here's my sidebar, with the CrunchBase and the MailChimp Raplets:
As we add more to Rapportive, this problem would only get worse. We decided to completely rethink our design.
Our Design Principles
We wrote down five principles to guide us during the redesign:
Rapportive should enable you to serendipitously learn about your contacts: information should be visible at a glance, and should not require much clicking or scrolling.
Rapportive should remain subtle and unobtrusive: it should be there when you want it, and out of the way when you don't. It should not grab your attention, nor use more space than necessary.
Rapportive should look great on screens both large and small; it should also look great when we have lots of data, and when we don't have much data.
Rapportive should avoid configuration dialogs: the interface should do the right thing.
Rapportive should be clear, beautiful, and enjoyable to interact with :)
These principles enabled us to reason effectively about our options.
To warm up, we put the big problem to one side, and instead started with graphical tweaking. Here are some sexy buttons:
Next up: how do we handle long sidebars?
How Do We Handle Long Sidebars?
The Sidebar Scrollbar
Our first thought: we could simply give the Rapportive sidebar its own scrollbar. In order to see the end of a long sidebar, you would not have to scroll the conversation; you would just scroll the sidebar. But this approach is pretty bad: large parts of long sidebars would still be hidden offscreen, making it no easier for you to serendipitously learn about your contacts.
The Tabbed Sidebar
We quickly ruled out a tabbed interface. Tabs work well in browsers, where each tab is independent. But contacts aren't like that. To see why, imagine that we made each sidebar section into a tab. We would then have multiple tabs per person. However, these tabs are not independent: they are about the same person! You can't see the contents of a tab without clicking it, and you can't see the contents of two tabs at the same time. As a result, tabs require laborious clicking and actually make it harder for you to serendipitously learn about your contacts. A tabbed interface would often feel clunky and frustrating.
An accordion interface seemed like a more promising direction. Here is an example from Outlook:
When you click a section it expands to show additional information; when a section expands, another one collapses to make room. In the screenshot above, I could click "Contacts" to see my contacts, and the "Mail" section would collapse to make room.
As described so far, accordions have the same properties as tabs: you can't see a section until you click it, and you can't see the contents of two sections at the same time. But what if multiple sections could be expanded at the same time? And what if the accordion would intelligently use available space?
The “Adaptive” Accordion
We started experimenting with an “adaptive” accordion. Here are three early design concepts:
These designs were not pretty, but as we tested them on various screen sizes, an algorithm began to emerge. We decided that we needed an accordion with the following improvements:
It should be possible for several sections to be expanded at the same time.
The sidebar should fit on the screen without scrolling. When you expand a section, the sidebar may need to collapse other sections to make room.
The sidebar should intelligently choose which sections to collapse. For example, if you haven’t clicked a section recently, you probably find it less useful than a section you just clicked. The sidebar should prefer to collapse least recently used sections.
Collapsed sections should be useful. For example, the collapsed Twitter section could show the contact's username and a button to follow, whereas the expanded version could also show their recent tweets.
The sidebar shouldn't show empty sections. For example, if the contact doesn’t have a Twitter account, the sidebar shouldn’t show the Twitter section.
The sidebar should clip very long sections and give them a scrollbar. Very long sections are rare but do happen; for example, consider a Facebook status with many comments.
If you resize your window, the sidebar should expand or collapse sections to accommodate.
It turns out that this finely tuned accordion plays exactly the song that we want it to. However, there are still hard questions. How exactly should expandable sections behave? The devil, of course, is in the details.
In our original design, when you click a Twitter username, we show recent tweets in a new browser tab. In an accordion design, when you click a collapsed Twitter section, you expect it to expand and show recent tweets inside Rapportive. Should we ask users to learn a new behaviour, or should we add a button to expand a section?
This was our first attempt. The arrows convey that you can expand a section, and also act as the button to expand it. But there's a problem: not all sections have arrows, since not all sections are expandable. As a result, the “connect” and “add friend” buttons would not always align. The arrows also look cluttered and complicated.
Surely we could do better! For example, we could only show the arrows when you hover over a section. We could even use the arrows to convey where the section will expand to:
Now we’re really moving away from established user interface patterns. Would you notice the arrows? Would you understand what they mean? Would you try to click them? The arrows convey lots of information: they tell you that the section can be expanded, and once expanded, how tall it will be and where it will be placed. These arrows also present a much bigger click target than the previous arrows, which is good. But they still don't look like a button. (They go grey when you hover over them, but it's not obvious.)
Fortunately, inspiration struck again. If we’re using arrows to preview the expanded section, well… why don’t we use the expanded section to preview itself? We can just show the expanded section on hover!
We call the preview of an expanded section a "genie", in honour of the famous Mac OS window effect. The design seems obvious in retrospect, but it took a surprisingly long time to find and understand it.
Although the version above isn’t yet pretty, it addresses the challenges we discussed earlier:
Rapportive remains minimalistic and uncluttered. We only show you more when you hover your mouse over the sidebar.
If you’re on a large screen, or looking at short sidebar, sections expand to fill the space. You can see everything at a glance, and there is no need to click anything.
If you’re on a small screen, or looking at a long sidebar, lesser-used sections collapse. In most cases, everything fits on screen without need for scrolling.
Furthermore, if there are adjacent collapsed sections in the sidebar, you can skim them with your mouse. As your mouse moves from one section to the next, the genie for the previous section disappears and the genie for the next appears. This is great for getting a quick overview before you reply to an email.
The design so far is good, but isn't yet perfect: how do you actually expand a section?
In the screenshot above, we used a button with an arrow pointing right. If you clicked it, the genie would slide into the sidebar, and the other sections would move out of the way to make room. The animation was good, but the button itself was ugly. After some thought, we realised that we could remove the button and convey the same thing with a right-pointing mouse cursor (cursor:e-resize, for fellow CSS buffs — yes, this isn't the standard way to use this cursor, but we like it!). Now you can click anywhere on the genie and it will happily slide into the sidebar.
We hope you’ll agree that it is gorgeous. We have added almost no new user interface, but the end result is very effective. It fits neatly on both big and small screens, with both short and long sidebars. It is clear, easy to use, and even fun to play with. Give it a try for yourself, and please let us know what you think!
Usability without design is dreary. Design without usability is pretentious. Design and usability… together, they are delightful :D
Hurrah! Rapportive users now lookup more than 50 million profiles every month.
We want Rapportive to be the best way to understand and connect with your contacts. We also want lots of people to use Rapportive. As we advance on both fronts, something else is happening as a result: Rapportive is becoming an important place to cultivate your brand.
When people email you, they'll see your Rapportive profile. What do you want them to see?
We want you to be in control. To see and edit your Rapportive profile, just click "my profile" at the bottom of any Rapportive sidebar. Here you can change what people see when they email you.
This approach has worked well so far, but it doesn't cover all cases. For example, many people have more than one email address (I personally use four). If you have multiple addresses, editing your profile like this would change what is shown for your Gmail address, but would not change what is shown for your other addresses. Today, this changes.
You can now edit the profiles for all your email addresses. Click "Claim your email addresses" in the Rapportive menu at the top of Gmail, and follow the instructions. (If the option doesn't appear, please reload your Gmail tab.)
After you've claimed an email address, you can edit its profile whenever it shows in Rapportive: just hover over the parts you want to change.
On the internet, you are who you say you are. Take control.
Business cards have names and photos. They have jobs and companies. They have email addresses, phone numbers, and wide variety of usernames. Business cards are easy to exchange, remind you who people are, and help you reconnect with your contacts later.
Business cards are Rapportive for real life.
I get plenty of cards, so I have a small process to deal with them. I'll fire up Google Contacts, type up the details, then head over to Gmail and send a quick note. It's usually something like "it was great to meet you" or "let's grab a coffee" or "you should totally meet Sam".
Except there's a problem. When a contact emails you back, you don't see their business card. If you want to phone them, you have to jump from Gmail to Google Contacts via a series of clicks just to even see their number. This is crazy, especially considering you've spent time to type up the card! Enough of this craziness: we have now integrated Google Contacts into Rapportive.
To see your Google Contacts in Rapportive, click "Connect my networks" in the Rapportive menu at the top of Gmail, and then click "Sign in with Google".
Over the next hour, any photos, phone numbers and occupations in your Google Contacts will be seamlessly integrated into your Rapportive sidebar. For example, if you had my contact details, you would see my numbers as in the sidebar below. (Please don't all call at once!)
It gets better. If any of your contacts have multiple email addresses, we'll merge their Rapportive profiles into one. For example, suppose you know two email addresses for one of your contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Through the gmail.com address, we find John's Facebook account; through the acme.com address, we find John's LinkedIn account. When John next emails you from either address, Rapportive will show you a complete profile with information from Facebook and LinkedIn.
Of course, your contacts remain absolutely confidential: their photos, phone numbers, and any merged profiles are only ever shown to you.
Here at Rapportive we're a pretty technical bunch of people, and we spend a lot of time communicating with similar people: many of our friends are developers, job applicants are developers, the people we share mailing lists with — also developers. While we've previously been able to see their social profile, there's just something missing. Wouldn't it be great to see what they are actually working on, and what makes them tick?
Services like Bitbucket, GitHub and Stack Overflow solve this problem. Developers have a personal profile on each site that gives an overview of the areas in which they contribute. It's quick, easy, and incredibly valuable to scan down a list of projects they work on, or a list of questions they've answered. Not only can you see what they're doing right now (which is important by itself), but you can also get a glimpse into their professional history.
For a while now, Rapportive has been showing links to Stack Overflow, and more recently we started doing the same for GitHub. Today we're happy to announce that we're also searching Bitbucket.
If you're already using Rapportive, you don't have to do anything to see these profiles. If not, it's easy to add Rapportive to Gmail now!
Today Google released a new design for the menu bar on Gmail to a small percentage of users. It looks nice, but sadly it also had the effect of breaking Rapportive for those users who had been randomly selected by Google.
Fortunately, we soon figured out what had changed, and within a few hours we had Rapportive up and running in the new design. This is what it looks like:
Just one thing to note — you need to update your Rapportive browser extension to version 1.2. In Firefox, you'll need to go to Tools → Add-ons in the menu, click "Install updates" and restart Firefox. Chrome and Safari should get the update automatically in a few hours, and after you reload Gmail. If you just can't wait to get your Rapportive back, here's how you can update right away:
Communicating electronically, be it via email, Twitter or anything else, is never quite as good as meeting people in person. Rapportive shows your contacts' happy smiling faces in your email, which helps a bit... but still, wouldn't it be better to just meet face-to-face?
With the new Lanyrd Raplet for Rapportive you can do just that. See which conferences your contacts are planning to attend — and if you're going to be there too, let them know so that you can meet up. You don't need to do anything special, because the Raplet shows everything right next to your email conversation.
Lanyrd's social conference directory also allows you to keep track of conferences in the past, and if any of your contacts have been speakers, you can check out their slide decks and videos.
How do you add this to Rapportive? Why, same as all Raplets — click the Rapportive menu at the top of Gmail, then "Add or Remove Raplets". Enjoy!