Thursday, 26 February 2009

Five product lessons

The mantra of start-up product development usually involves two core words: 'rapid' & 'innovation'. Implicit in this is that we consider ourselves better placed than many others to filter out the 'urgent but unimportant' and concentrate instead on issues that add most value for the end user.

The casual observer might be fooled into thinking this means that product decisions at start-ups are constraint-free. They would be wrong. Just like our counterparts in larger organisations, we're under pressure too, not from complex stakeholder relationships, poorly defined ideas or lengthy development procesess, but more often than not, from significant resource limitations.

In an ideal world, there would always be enough people, money and time to complete every great idea that will help to build product momentum and engagement. The reality, however, is that all product decisions are ultimately cost/benefit choices and, in the best companies, there are always more good ideas than people to develop them.

Here at Mippin we've made a number of significant decisions over the past few months. So, in our continued spirit of openness, we thought it timely to take a step back and give you an insight into why we've made some of those decisions and the lessons learned:

Lesson 1: Be inclusive
Six months ago much of Mippin's functionality was hidden behind registration. The resulting bounce rate was a minor source of frustration, particularly given the huge levels of engagement from those who did sign-up. For us it became clear that if users didn't see the necessity of registration they simply voted with their feet. Instead, we developed some great code that allowed us to recognise (with near-perfect precision) all returning uniques, their devices and settings. Once we'd achieved that, we were able to push back and open all elements of the service to all our users, whether registered returners or first time browsers.

Lesson 2: Don't add cellophane
Ever bought a newspaper wrapped in cellophane? Annoying isn't it? The digital equivalent of this is offering up content and then forcing your users to interact before reaching it. When it comes to media, access is everything. Surfacing engaging content is the key to providing an experience that will drive repeat usage. Take a look at the image at the top of this article to see how we evolved our homepage with this in mind.

Lesson 3: Search can't fail - EVER
If search fails once, it fails for good. Google have set the bar for everyone (though arguably not on mobile) here and we've worked hard to improve our search results to maximise relevancy as well as adding new vertical searches - for images, video and wikipedia. We've also decided to offer results for popular sites - whether they take users away from Mippin or not. For us a positive user experience that takes someone away from Mippin is way better than a negative user experience that attempts to get them to stay.

Lesson 4: Be a data geek
Keeping an eye on the relevant forces at play within your industry sounds obvious, but it's surprising how few companies are able to react to market changes quickly. One of the benefits of being a smaller team is the ability to alter your development effort as required and with minimal fuss. We noticed significant spikes coming from top end devices (particularly Android and iPhone) much earlier than others and launched dedicated versions of Mippin that were able to showcase a richer user experience by leveraging the functionality associated with new touchscreen devices. (Discover how happy we are with ourselves about this here.)

Lesson 5: Don't get sidetracked
Lastly, users want you you to solve a simple problem better than anyone else. At Mippin we're proud of being able to offer some very clever implicit personalisation that surfaces the most engaging content with minimal user effort. The key when devloping a product is never to veer too far away from your core purpose (unless you spot brilliant market potential elsewhere, clearly). When it comes to adding new functionality, ensure it stacks up behind the reason your company exists. Our social strategy is a good example of this (we've blogged lots about that here). Instead of simply allowing users to connect, our aim was to enhance the content discovery experience - that's central to our core product - by allowing users to act as individual editors, collating and sharing the most engaging content they find.

In the interests of brevity I'll stop there. We're really happy at the way that Mippin is taking shape. As ever, it's an evolving process so don't hesitate to contact us at any comments or thoughts - we'd love to hear from you!

The Mippin team

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Friday, 20 February 2009

MSearchGroove & Mippin: Guest Column & Mippin Blog Take-Over

Mippin is the "Guest Columnist" today on MSearchGroove, courtesy of mobile consultant, analyst and publisher Peggy Anne Salz. We're there to talk about our ambitions for publishers wishing to go mobile, alongside a step-by-step guide to using Mippin Mobilizer to mobilize your website. Thanks Peggy! Click to access the article here: Mippin Guest Column

To return the favour and as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we thought we could do our own version of the "Guest Column" by launching the Mippin Blog "Take-Over". Theorectially our plan is to enable you to browse MSearchGroove as easily as you would on the actual MSearchGroove website, but by the look of what we've created below the concept still needs a bit of work ;) In any case MSearchGroove is worth much closer inspection - there's a tremendous amount of mobile news, information, interviews and opinion in there, plenty to help gain some insight in to the mobile market. You can get a quick flavour here.

Enterprise Search
Local Search
Mobile Advertising
Mobile Research
Multimodal Search
Briefing Rooms
Location Based Services
Mobile Content
Mobile Search
On-Device Portals
Web 2.0
Content Discovery
Mobile Music
Mobile Social Networking
Under The Radar
White Papers

Haven't clicked yet? Get the real thing here: But let us know about any suggestions for a future Mippin Blog "Take-Over", website or mobile!

Friday, 13 February 2009

AdWords Mobile - Free Full Report

Here is the full, free AdWords Mobile report covering the fundamental differences between AdWords PC & AdWords Mobile. Following on with our earlier chapters covering mobile AdWords advertising, this report combines all the previous chapters with a new final summary and updated information.

If you're looking for information covering the topics below, download the report here and kung-fu your way to the top of mobile search results.

Full AdWords Mobile report from Mippin: Click Here

Topics covered:

Mobile Ad Campaign Components
Quality Score on Mobile
Maximising Relevance in Mobile Ads
Mobile Traffic - Driving Volume
Mobile Ad Creative
Mobile Ad Campaign Objectives
Mobile Control Testing

If you've got some information you'd like to share with us about your own experiences, please post a commment here. We'd be really keen to hear about your own mobile ad campaigns.