What Shawn Blanc Taught Me About Being A Total Mobile Failure

Malan Darras - FacepalmWell, that was embarrassing.

If you visit my site on a regular basis you may have noticed I’ve been making some changes. I love tinkering and making the site cleaner and more readable.

I did a check with my mom a few nights ago and asked her how she uses the site. I like getting feedback from someone that wasn’t born with a cellphone and a Facebook profile.

She immediately said “Yes, on my phone there is a box that pops up over everything asking for my email address!” We tracked down (what I thought was) the problem and I thought it would be smooth sailing from there.

Then I wrote ‘Thanks’ and posted it yesterday.

It was inspired by a new episode of ‘The Weekly Briefly’, a podcast hosted by Shawn Blanc. The guest was Patrick Rhone. Pat has been on my list of favorite writers ever since I stumbled upon one of his (many) websites minimalmac a few years ago.

I also highly recommend his book ‘Enough’ a great easy read for anyone interested in a more minimal lifestyle.

They had a great conversation about writing – something Pat has been known to do from time to time. At one point Shawn asked Pat what someone should do if they can’t find the inspiration to write.

Shawn asked:

“So someone sits down and they open up their minimal text editor of choice, they’ve got their hot coffee ready to go and they go uhhh…. I’m so wanting to write but I have nothing to write about.”

Pat answered (with powerful advice for writers of any kind):

“You just said three sentences.
You just spoke three sentences that you just as easily could have written…
I don’t know what to write (period)
I’m stuck here in front of this computer staring at this screen with my minimalist text editor and I have nothing (period)…”

I thought this was hilarious and accurate and decided to put it into practice immediately. So when I woke up Sunday morning feeling tired – I just started writing about being tired. Then I posted it and that was that.

Until today.

Today I tweeted out to Patrick and Shawn, saying I blamed them for the post. I added their @names to the tweet so they’d see it, thinking and they might get a laugh.

A few hours later I was surprised to see the following responses:

First from Pat (thanks for the RT by the way)

And then this from Shawn:

A total fail. Not only was I (gently) being informed that my website looked like a monster for my mobile readers. It was (gently) coming from a guy who just happens to have a very popular website, a well known podcast and over 10,000 Twitter followers.


Assessing The Damage

Using Shawn’s screenshot I realized what the problem was and was able to fix it in about 60 seconds. Then it hit me that all of my mobile readers were probably seeing the same disastrous pop up box(es).

To assess damages I logged into Google Analytics, sorted traffic by Devices and saw the following statistics:

Mobile Users

*Cue sound of head banging on desk

34.26% of you guys are on mobile devices

So – to the 34.26% of you that encountered the big blue box of death, I’m sorry. That damn box probably made that moment of your day just a little worse.

And for that I apologize.

I am happy to tell it has been put to death. The plugin has been deactivated, destroyed and will never appear again.

Lessons Learned

  1. Stop playing around with the website so much
  2. Always keep a tight watch on the plugins I have installed
  3. Look at the site on more than just my desktop computer
  4. Optimize the site for mobile users
  5. Sometimes, disasters can make a great blog post

My Message To You

I’ll do my best to make the site as accessible as possible on all devices. And you know what? You can help me with that.

If you come to the site and something breaks – feel free to send me a message on Facebook or Twitter. I’ll see it within a few minutes. Your quick bug report could help other readers have a better time here and for that, I thank you in advance.

Maybe next time I’ll catch it faster.

And I won’t have to get a bug report from a guy like Shawn Blanc.

See you tomorrow,

P.S. And as you can see Pat – I’m still following your advice. Thanks dude.

  • Debra

    I’m laughing!!! Always listen to your mom.

  • Pete

    For mobile device optimization, try testing any page on the site and look at the warnings and fails to see where you could improve:

    ready dot mobi/launch.jsp
    validator dot w3 dot org/mobile/

    Good luck!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Thanks for the links Pete, I may just add a WP plugin that presents a mobile site for mobile readers. Researching a few now.

  • Kang

    Talk about turning a lemon into lemonade!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      haha something like that