Summit Part 2: Funding -- How get attention for a "donation" - A deeper analysis on donations UI

Axel Grude axel.grude at
Sat Oct 25 08:00:12 UTC 2014


I use a standard mechanism that detects major upgrades and opens
1) A version history tab in Thunderbird, linking to the relevant section. Personally I 
feel this is mandatory as it shows the amount of work that was done. I also think it 
is good to have some screen shots as text only can be dry and doesn't seem relevant to 
the user. Example:
2) A donation tab, which can be permanently disabled via another "standard" mechanism. 
(Basically by right-clicking the "donate" button). Obviously the instructions to 
remove the donation tab should be on the donation page.

I agree that there is no point in asking if people don't have it or don't want to. But 
you have to ask everybody to catch the ones that are inclined, and you also have to 
give them an option / reminder once in a while. the hard thing is registering whether 
they really paid and then ask less (e.g. once a year). I feel that tabs are actually 
less effective (I often click away Noscript update tabs) the more often they are 
shown, a permanent UI element (that doesn't get in the way otherwise) is probably very 
effective. I always a have a "Donate" button at the bottom of my preferences dialogs 
(I have no idea what this looks like on a Mac):

At least on Windows systems it makes sense to use the "dead" screen space and have it 
out of the way; I believe bottom left is not even a visual hot spot (but I might be 
wrong). I like the orange style because it does stick out. And no my buttons don't 
"blink". I have around/60,000 users/ all Addons counted and have /*not got one single 
complaint on these. */And I get a *lot *of feedback on bugs / features. I know that 
once you*focus on this button* and you are a UI purist (possibly a Mac user who loves 
sleek / unobtrusive design) you might now actually say "hey this screams at me too 
much", but the point is that as daily software user, you actually don't care either 
way. You know that it's there, yes you can donate any time; but it doesn't otherwise 
hold you up or distract you. It is just important to the author of the Software that's 
why he put it there. It isn't bad enough to make you not use the software. However I 
/do *sometimes get complaints about the donation tab*/.//Even though it opens in the 
background it can be seen as "spamming" and I always promptly give instructions on how 
to disable it.

I hope it is okay that the conversation goes a little into the "Addons" direction. I 
see it as another expression of the "great & trustworthy tools for free" thought. I 
would simply stop using "free as in beer" software if it forced me to pay it - I just 
like that non-commital feel. And then there is GREAT software you use every day and 
you can't live without and you start asking yourself, why don't I pay for this.

      The Analysis

The difference between actually doing it (donate) or not can be as slim as having an 
easy way to get there; e.g. a button-click instead of surfing to the vendoer's web 
site and finding the donation options there. That's why I think a primary visible UI 
element (which doesn't get in the way or workflow and doesn't take additional space) 
would be so important to Thunderbird.

I personally thought the caption bar is a great place to put this as it seems to be 
something that hasn't got a lot of other uses (apart from 
maximize/minimize/restore/close). I think it is similar with the bottom area of the 
dialogs, you only usually use them to close / cancel / apply, at the end of using the 
actual contents (in the center of the window); so I guess this feels much less of a 
distraction. My theory is *the less frequented a screen area *is, the less additional 
UI elements will feel like a distraction.

You can also see this with Remote Desktop and "meta-windows" applications like 
Windowtabs. The control elements are usually small collapsible tabs at the top of the 
screen / window-edge, which signal "I keep out of your way to not bother you, but you 
can use me if you need me". They can also be *medium transparent* while the do not 
have focus/hover, to make them even less "in your face". I would definitely style them 
with a (slight) color and bright text on dark background just to make sure they are 
seen as something out-of the ordinary.

As regards experience on donation experience I believe I can bring a lot to the table, 
as I still haven't invested the time to implement "freemium" versions of my addons.

if you like some code for opening Tb tabs (that also works as expected in SeaMonkey 
and Postbox byopening browser tabs) ping me off list. ;)


*Axel <mailto:axel.grude at>*
Software Developer
Thunderbird Add-ons Developer (QuickFolders, quickFilters, QuickPasswords, Zombie 
Keys, SmartTemplate4)
AMO Editor Get Thunderbird!

*To:* Tb-planning at - tb-planning at
*From: *Onno Ekker <o.e.ekker at>
*Sent: *Friday, 24/10/2014 08:19:17 08:19 GMT ST +0100 [Week 43]
*Subject:* Re: Summit Part 2: Funding -- How get attention for a "donation"
> For a while after installing or upgrading my Forward extension for Thunderbird, I 
> opened Firefox showing a page with the new features and a Contribute button. This 
> was before Thunderbird had tabs.
> I only got two few complaints ever, even while opening a browser when you start your 
> mail client is quite disruptive. One person complaining was complaining because for 
> him the page was opened every time he opened Thunderbird. Apparently something with 
> storing/retrieving his preferences was broken, but we never figured out the cause of 
> that.
> After someone filed a bug for it, I decided to drop the "feature". I couldn't easily 
> change it to open a new tab in Thunderbird and the revenues were decreasing after 
> each release anyway...
> Onno
> _______________________________________________
> tb-planning mailing list
> tb-planning at

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