Focal Point Sidelined

We literally just released our latest Plugin, Focal Point, only to pull the plug two days later. I don’t think they teach that in Business 101, but hey, we’re human, no matter how much power we may yield through our MacBooks. But let me explain to hopefully quell any real concern and move back to our positive progress that 2015 will most certainly bring.

So why the change of mind right after pushing it out?

OK, so I understand this seems a bit odd, but it was a simple case of having a few critical points raised right after release that caused us to reconsider the purpose and effectiveness of this tool.

One concern that we had considered, but didn’t have all the facts until further research, was the issue of duplicate content. If you read the official Webmaster docs on Google for their bots and capability of crawling sites, you’ll find statements like this:

“If you’re curious about your own application, load it in a browser and then view the source (for example, in Firefox, right-click and select “View Page Source”). In our example, “View Page Source” would not contain the word “octopus”. Similarly, if some of your content is created dynamically, the page source will not include all the content you will want the crawler to see. In other words “View Page Source” is exactly what the crawler gets. Why is this important? It is important because search results are based in part on the words that the crawler finds on the page. In other words, if the crawler can’t find your content, it’s not searchable.”

In this case Focal Point is in the clear as it only duplicates the content area during page load through javascript (hiding the duplicated content until revealed by clicking the “Read” button). But within the past few months (and just coming to our attention) Google has been sharing their semi-current and coming capability of being able to fully read the source of pages before and AFTER page load, meaning that content added via javascript will be captured by crawlers as well as the raw page source text.

So that alone made us really reconsider our efforts on this one product when we have several others that could more rightly use our attention at this point in time. Yet that was not the only concern.

Pre-launch brought on mixed responses to Focal Point. It seemed to either confuse people a bit or make them super excited. Unfortunately with a small test group it’s hard to gauge how the general public will respond. Post-launch brought on mixed responses as well, but more concern and confusion than excitement.

We knew going forward with Focal Point that we were kind of moving toward uncharted territory so we weren’t surprised to find a few head-scratchers, but the combined concerns caused us to pull the plug and move forward with Focal Point on the back burner, if not permanently archived in the “neat ideas” file.

What We Learned From This Experience

The main takeaway was that “new and unique” ideas can come with unexpected results, especially with a wider audience chiming in and interacting with the products. Blazing trails can lead to greater success or just a case of poison ivy. I feel a bit itchy, but I’m shaking it off and getting back to our other projects.

I personally love to try new things and always see the mousetrap as a beta version of a better solution to come, so I don’t plan on toning down my exploratory development, but I will spend a bit more time asking opinions, no matter how much they differ from one another.

What Now

Let me be crystal clear here. This hiccup doesn’t affect our momentum at all as I’ve been personally working hard on another Genesis Plugin that is much more inline with our previous offerings and in more solid and sound realms of application. It will work with non-Dynamik Child Themes like our Genesis Extender Plugin does, but filling in the gap of no-coding design that Extender leaves open.  So keep an eye out as it will be available soon!

I appreciate your patience with this moment of indecision and just wanted to make it clear that we’re always learning, even if our lessons sometimes come from our own missteps. If you have any questions regarding the above information don’t hesitate to ask via comment or email. And regarding Cobalt Apps and 2015 I’ll be publishing a post very soon with some insight into our future plans. Nothing groundbreaking, but just a basic map of our attention for this coming year that may be useful for our members.

Thanks for you time and have a great one!

Eric Hamm

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