My beloved side project TweetToCall recently turned one year old, and I’ve been procrastinating on re-styling it to look more like a Web 2.0 service and less like a weekend project. This post on TechCrunch tonight about the death of phone numbers motivated me to give it an hour of my time while playing Mario Cart with Kevin and digesting an awesome steak dinner I made for us. Because really, when else can I justify working on a side project these days?
The Changelog (Sort of)
I had updated the main page with this lovely style inspired by a cool piece of graphic art I bought on iStockPhoto, but still needed to refresh everything else. Tonight I went through and tested everything again to make sure it is all working. The signup process, phone number validation and listing of TweetToCall enabled friends have been reviewed end-to-end and I’m happy to report the code has aged nicely. I think we might be doing some inefficient things with API requests to Twitter on certain commonly reloaded pages (really need pagination for those users who are developing a bigger phone book), but that won’t impact the majority of users at this point. Definitely on the list though, since it drives me nuts when I’m testing.
As for the design update, all I have to say is CSS is amazing (there is knowing this and really KNOWING IT, I’m feeling the latter)… the time savings on this update after the previous were minimal. I updated the header, deleted a couple divs, and bam. While it’s still ugly (hey, I’m not a designer) it is a lot less offensive than before.
Other Improvement Plans
I’ve talked a lot about adding Facebook Connect as the next integrated social network, and now I’m thinking Firefox/Chrome plugins could be cool as well. Ultimately, I think I will probably move this all over to DialSocial.com where it will be much less Twitter centric. Other than a few media mentions from back when Jajah launched their @call feature almost a year ago, I don’t think I’ve accumulated much brand value, and having the Twitter account suspended endlessly makes it even easer to abandon the TweetToCall brand.
Another thing on my list is to get @tweettocall unbanned on Twitter, it has been stuck in that state for over a year now and I haven’t been able to get any responses to my support requests (this happened when my own Twitter account @daniellemorrill and @twilio got banned in a widespread block to try to control some malicious spam during the Gov 2.0 Summit in D.C.).
Why It’s Just a Side Project
Beyond the fact that I am super happily employed at Twilio (the voice API platform TweetToCall is built on), I just feel like there’s no point in really building this out and pumping a bunch of money into marketing it. There is a big barrier to getting users to sign up – getting them to give their phone numbers. Twitter, and to a lesser extent Facebook, have all their users and this is really just a feature they could easily implement. The one way I might be able to make it more valuable is to have more networks that you can hook into from a single place — but for now it just feels like a feature, not a full product and certainly not a company. If you feel differently, please let me know I’d love to hear your thoughts.