The Green Release - Back to Basics
Okay, so I've been updating the blog horribly over the past month. The catastrophe surrounding the search problems has been weighing heavily on my mind, so instead of blogging, I've been trying to figure out what the heck is going on, and tweaking the server to see if I can fix it, figuring I would post again once I had a working solution. I still haven't a clue though really, so I figured I better start writing something. (I had originally tried to make it very clear which domain was which and had all the other domains redirected... this seems to be about the worst thing possible, as it confused all the search engines and drove down Mowser's traffic like crazy. So I've been simplifying...)
Simplify is definitely the watch-word of the Green Release (as denoted by the newest logo color). Gone are the mobile links section and the keyword list, and now there's just the Content Adapter, which is really the focus of Mowser as a whole. In my last meeting with Seni (who's sadly decided he needed to focus on other priorities, and is no longer working with me), it came up that Mowser is a bit unfocused, and we batted around some ideas for a Vision and Mission.
The Mission is the easy one to come up with, since you can be a bit more long winded about it. The mission of Mowser is to provide a service for both users and publishers to best use the world wide web via mobile phones through open standards and online tools. Users should be able to have confidence that if they pull their phone out of their pocket, what they're looking for on the web will be accessible, and publishers should have confidence that they have control and ownership of their content, regardless of the device used to access their site.
From what I understand, the Vision is more grand. Examples are Microsoft's "A computer on every desk..." or Google's "Organizing the world's information". They aren't small ideas, or next month's plans. They're talking about *every* desk and the *world's* information. I think a great vision helps a company large or small in a variety of ways - it both explains and inspires. I don't have a good Vision yet (though I do have some nebulous ideas about being a server-side companion for mobile devices). I do, however, have a decent Mantra, which is supposed to be super short and concise. I got some examples from a Guy Kawasaki post:
Federal Express: “Peace of mind”
Nike: “Authentic athletic performance”
Target: “Democratize design”
Mary Kay “Enriching women’s lives”
So with that in mind, Mowser is "Mobilizing the Web." That's pretty easy and clear. I should put it on the home page.
Now that I have a decent Mantra, then suddenly focusing on functionality is easier. Gone are the links to mobile web sites - since they're already mobilized they don't fit particularly well, and also I don't want to compete with the various directories out there like YesWap, TapTap, Tappity, Mobicious, etc., nor do I want to try to keep up with the rapidly growing mobile web. There's been like 500,000 .mobi domains registered already and every other day I see an announcement of a new m-dot-something version of established sites - trying to keep up with that would be nuts. So I re-enabled Mobitopia.com (it was redirecting to Mowser for the past month or so) and opened up the public links again. If there's a demand for it, the community can help start posting links again, and I'll just try to moderate as best as possible.
Now, speaking of m-dot sites like m.yahoo.com and m.twitter.com, etc. I was talking to someone the other day about using Mowser as their mobile version and they suggested being able to point the m.* c-level domain name to Mowser's servers. At first, I thought it would be better just to do header redirects, but after a few days, I tried it and decided it was actually a pretty great idea! So I've implemented a simple detection system right now, and it works like this:
If you have a www.* version of your domain, you can add a m.* to your DNS (very easy using GoDaddy) and point it at mowser.com, and it'll automagically redirect to the adapted version of your www.* domain. The domains are named explicitly m.* and www.* for now, though I'm going to add support for .mobi soon as well. It's the SIMPLEST thing that could possibly work, so it just does a redirect to a mowser.com/web content adaption URL, but I'm working on making it a true virtual mobile site by re-using the domain name within the links and not redirecting, which will be better for publishers to maintain control over their domain.
The other thing I'm working on is an improved version of the shortcuts. Currently, they work like TinyURLs, but really that's not a great solution as the links don't provide context. We started playing around with tagged "clips" that you could post from your PC and use on your phone, and I'm going to combine the two concepts so that when you save a URL, you'll get a unique ID, but not have to tag it. I'll post more about it when it's ready, but the use case is pretty straight forward: I'm going to leave the house and I need to use directions that someone emailed me - it should be as easy as 2 clicks to copy/paste those directions into a form and have it appear on my phone - including links to online Maps, directions, etc. In other words, instead of printing out the email and directions, you simply "print to your phone." It's a concept that's been out there for a while from lots of different sites, but I think the power of combining the clips/shortcuts with the content adapter will make it all that much more useful than simply text sent to your phone.
Okay, so that's the update for now! Lots more soon...