09
May 11

Improving MDN discoverability

MDN continues to be a popular destination for developers looking for everything from building Firefox Add-ons to hacking on the Mozilla source code.  But as modern browsers continue to evolve, MDN has become an even more valuable source of information and documentation for one developer segment in particular:  Web developers.   And that is why the developer engagement at Mozilla is dedicated to improving our strategy, infrastructure, community efforts and content for MDN.  One critical piece to that is our SEO.

Mozilla has been fortunate to have awesome SEO, especially mozilla.com and it’s various subdomains, including MDN.  However, it has been a challenge to move the needle for  http://developer.mozilla.org exactly for that reason:  our SEO is already pretty good.  While making huge gains has sometimes proven difficult, we have made incremental improvements in the past.   That has changed over the past year as we have put more energy into the overall strategy for the site and the new content we continue to add to it.

Our goal and the results so far

Last year, we set a goal to bring 10 Web developer targeted keywords into the Top 10 search results in Google.  As of this week, we have hit the half-way mark to that goal.  We started with a list of 95 keywords that we felt were of interest to Web developers and have been monitoring our search rankings for about six months to get a feel for how we’re doing with various MDN projects and their impact on SEO.

A combination of 1. the redesign and new landing pages for MDN, 2. the promoteJS campaign spearheaded by Chris Williams,  3. more articles on the Hacks blog, 4. regular tweeting @mozhacks, and new sections added to MDN like 5. Demo Studio and 6. Learning have all contributed to raising the profile of http://developer.mozilla.org and and have helped Web developers find us via search.

Here are some stats from our data gathered from Dec 2010 vs May 2011:

  • 5 new keywords in the Top 10:
    • font face (14 -> 5)
    • ajax (12 -> 6)
    • svg (12 -> 8 )
    • drag and drop (11 -> 9)
    • video tag (12 -> 10)
  • 6 keywords with huge 20+ gains in rankings (they were originally 50 or lower in rankings):
    • css (19)
    • websockets (20)
    • html (23)
    • css3 (24)
    • webm (39)
    • audio tag (39)

Room for improvement

As the numbers above suggest,  we have made some awesome gains for a lot of important keywords.  But while the overall shift in SEO has been positive there were some keywords that dropped a few spots:

  • 4 keywords dropped 5+ in rankings:
    • mathml (6 -> 24)
    • dom inspector (3 -> 20)
    • audio api (11 -> 19)
    • html5 video (29 -> 35)

The first two on that list are not a huge surprise since mathml is a niche technology and dom inspector is an older technology that has been replaced with new tools, so some fluctuation can be expected.  But we do know that we need to do better with promoting and talking about the newer HTML5 standards around audio and video.   Which we have been, since both have seen gains in rankings via other keywords or the tags themselves.  So I think we’re on the right track.

Low hanging fruit

We also have the opportunity to focus on a few keywords that are within reach of helping us meet our goal.  A few of them have seen good gains already and the others can move up to within the Top 10 if we focus on them in the coming months:

  • 6 keywords on the brink of the Top 10:
    • <audio> (11)
    • audio tag (12)
    • webm (12)
    • css gradients (14)
    • web storage (15)
    • audio api (19)

All of those are on our radar for new content and demos, so hopefully we can work on getting those moved up soon.

Where we stand today

As I mentioned earlier, MDN already has some great SEO, so the numbers below shouldn’t surprise many people.  As of this week, here is where we stand in the rankings for the 95 keywords we’ve been tracking:

  • Ranked #1:          34
  • Ranked #2:          17
  • Ranked #3-10:    25 (76 of 95 keywords are in Top 10!)
  • Ranked #11-35:        17
  • Ranked #36-50:         0  (this is a great sign)
  • Ranked >#50:             2

Those are numbers that any site would be proud to see for keywords that matter most to their audience. :-)  So it is interesting to note both the incremental gains we have achieved in moving a few keywords into the Top 10 and the bigger gains we have made as we introduce and talk more about emerging technologies through Hacks articles, new documentation, and awesome demos on Demo Studio.

We will continue to improve our SEO strategy as we add content to the MDN website and launch new programs to engage with Web developers.  We hope this data and new learnings will also guide the development of Kuma (the next generation wiki platform for MDN Docs) to make sure we take advantage of the new infrastructure to maximize our SEO in the future.

Thanks to everyone on the developer engagement team, as well as our MDN dev and QA teams for their contributions to getting us this far!

With that said, we still have work to do before we hit our goal.  It won’t be easy to bring 5 more keywords into the Top 10, but that’s what we said about the first 5. ;-)


28
Mar 11

SXSW 2011 recap…

With the recent launch of Demo Studio, the awesome work we’re doing with our Docs community, and Janet already living in Austin, I decided to head to SXSW this year to promote the Mozilla Developer Network and help build up excitement for the upcoming Firefox 4 launch on desktop and mobile.

This was my first time to “South by”, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew there were going to be A LOT of people from all over the world… most looking to learn new things, others selling you their wares, and almost everyone wanting to meet interesting people and party! I think we ran into all of the above and had a chance to share our story, learn more about them, and at the end of the day educate many about what Mozilla is, what we’re doing for the Mozilla Developer Network, and how awesome Firefox 4 was going to be.

We attended a lot of sessions that covered everything from the latest “browser wars” and the future of the Web to making software more “gameful” and engaging through design and social interaction. Browser Wars panel photo by Seth Bindernagel And while we met people at talks and walking around the convention center, our most valuable time was spent in the evenings. I don’t think we made it to any of the official parties or even any that would have been considered major… but we did get a chance to meet developers and designers at smaller meetups and events throughout the week. The more intimate settings enabled us to have great conversations, show off demos at Demo Studio and Web O Wonder, share our vision for MDN, and get feedback on what people look for in their favorite browser and developer resources.

I thought I’d mention a few of the people I met, what we discussed,and how these types of connections are why SXSW is valuable for Mozilla to continue to be a part of. In no particular order, here are a few interesting folks I ran into…

The evangelist:
Paul Irish (Dev relations at Google)

After exchanging emails for a couple months, it was great to finally meet the man in person. It’s funny that Paul happens to work in Mountain View too, but it took SXSW to finally give us a chance to meet. He’s doing amazing work educating the world about Web standards and technologies and we’re in early discussions on how Google and Mozilla can work together to make the Mozilla Developer Network even better through more vendor-neutral, community-driven efforts around documentation. It was nice to get to know him a little bit outside of our professional roles at competing companies… since at least our teams plan to work together more. :-) I look forward to meeting with Paul again during our all-hands when the rest of the MDN team is in Mountain View… and I’m very excited about what we’ll be doing together to make the Web better for everyone.

The open source hacker:
Brian Leroux (Chief Software Architect at Nitobi)

Working at Mozilla, there are Canadians everywhere. I also happened to be married to one, so it’s only natural that I make an effort to get to know more people from the Great White North (do they even call it that anymore?). What started out as a debate about violence in hockey turned into an interesting discussion about an awesome project Brian is working on: PhoneGap. I’ve been following the “web-technology-based-cross-platform-mobile-development-framework” space for a while, so it was cool to meet Brian and learn more about their philosophy (very similar to Mozilla’s) and what they’re trying to do in the open source space. I found out that he also drinks beer with David Ascher (they’re both in Vancouver) and that the Nitobi team has been thinking about possible collaboration with Mozilla Labs. What that would look like they aren’t sure, but it looks like PhoneGap would be an awesome tool to enhance/supplement what Mozilla is trying to do with Open Web Apps and promoting the Web as a platform for mobile development.

The international entrepreneur:
Saumil Nanavati (CEO at Chalkboard)

For a change of pace, I decided to drop in on a gathering hosted by the country of Singapore. I know Gen has been working with communities all over South East Asia, so I thought I would get a feel for what people thought about Mozilla. Most people I talked to knew we were a non-profit, open source organization, which was a pleasant surprise. However, it probably also helps that Joi Ito’s Neoteny Labs fund is based in Singapore. :-) Which is something I didn’t know until talking to Saumil about his venture. Neoteny Labs happens to be an early investor in Chalkboard… and we had a great conversation about how his company is bringing an interesting advertising model to local businesses through a web and mobile-based platform that is more affordable than most due to their unique flat-pricing structure. They are expanding to the US with an office in San Francisco… so I hope to connect with him again. Running into Saumil just goes to show how far-reaching and influential the Mozilla community is.

The aspiring funny-man filmmaker
Liam McEneaney (Comedian from New York City)

To take a break from Interactive one afternoon, I decided to go see the Conan O’Brien documentary “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop”. The line was long and people were out on the sidewalk for a while, so I had a chance to ask a different audience about Firefox and see if they knew what Mozilla was about. As expected, almost everyone knew about Firefox and most loved it. There were a few Chrome switchers there and the usual IE users that didn’t know any better. :-) And while a lot of people knew Firefox was from Mozilla, I spent a lot of time sharing our history, mission and brand promise. Most of the responses were, “Oh, wow! I didn’t know that… that’s awesome!”. I ended up getting in line next to a guy that just looked like a film geek to me, but I soon found out that Liam was a comedian from NYC and was premiering a movie at SXSW later that week about the alt-comedy scene: “Tell Your Friends”. It was great meeting someone not there for Interactive and just talking to others there really opened my eyes to the potential Mozilla has if we can continue to reach out to new audiences in a more meaningful and engaging way… even if that way is to ask them random questions on the street while waiting for a movie to start. :-)

The walking, talking promos
Five Guys in Kilts (yup, that says it all)

These are five Texas web guys who like wearing kilts and talking to people. A guy in a kilt + MDN t-shirtFor SXSWi ‘11, Pat Ramsey, Tom Myer, Alex Jones, Ryan Snedegar and Simon Salt decided to do it as a group, and promote organizations they feel are worth talking about, at the same time. Mozilla was one of the lucky few that had the honor of having these guys walk around all day Saturday wearing our Mozilla Developer Network t-shirts + kilts. They spread the word about our awesome documentation on MDN and let people know about Firefox 4. They were fun to hang out with too, as we had a chance to sit down and talk with them during the Refresh Austin events. Needless to say, these guys had a busy week taking photos with people, talking to the press, doing their promotional stuff and enjoying the talks and events. And they definitely had a great time doing it.

Of course there were a lot more people I had a chance to meet and spend time with while in Austin… but probably too many to list, so I wanted to wrap up with a few notes on some of the most more intimate meetups that Janet Swisher and I were able to attend.

All Girl Hackers
The night I arrived, we went straight to this gathering of women designers and developers. Garann Means was one of the organizers and Janet had attended their meetups before, so we met a few of the locals that have been working on the Web and doing interesting things for the Austin community. It was awesome to see so many women in tech represent their craft in an industry that still has such an imbalance. Even though a lot of guys ended up attending, it was clear that the women had a close knit community in Austin and a lot of people have noticed. It was great meeting Kate Ho and Jessica Williamson there, both working in Scotland. Kate doing awesome work with touch interfaces and Jessica blogging and working with entrepreneurs there. And then there was Mandy Doo, a local designer that made quick friends with my colleague Chrissie Brodigan as we talked about how designers need to get more invovled in the open source world… and how awesome it would be to find a way to get them into the workflow to help some projects that just need a little design love to overcome usability challenges and succeed. It was a great way to start the week.

Refresh Austin Party
Another local community that has regular meetups, this group of hackers is part of the Refreshing Cities movement to help “new media” professionals keep their skills fresh. They had a lunch on Friday and a party on Saturday, where we met Austin area web development and UX folks, from companies such as Facebook, OpenText, and RackSpace, as well as independent professionals.


Knight Foundation’s
Media Innovation Party

By virtue of Mozilla’s recently announced partnership with the Knight Foundation, we were invited to their Media Innovation Party on Saturday. They had a number of tables set up for “science fair” style showcases by a number of projects and organizations whose work the Knight Foundation is supporting. Some of the intriguing projects on hand were LocalWiki, which is a wiki with features needed by local communities, such as mapping and timelines; DocumentCloud, which lets news organizations upload their source documents (such as FOIA-released records) for annotation and sharing; and Ushahidi, which develops software for crowdsourcing (and validating) crisis information (such as the recent disasters in Japan).

AustinJS Party
This was probably the biggest event we were involved with, and as a sponsor, we had a chance to talk to a lot of people at the event. Joe McCann and company did a great job keeping the crowd engaged with announcements and giveaways every hour. We showed off demos from Demo Studio and Web O Wonder, asked people what they were looking forward to most with Firefox 4, and educated them about why supporting Mozilla is important. While Microsoft was also a sponsor, their reps left early and let the big banners and promos on the big screens do all the talking… leaving Janet and I with lots of opportunity to actually talk to people, give out our awesome MDN t-shirts (also see the back) and stickers, and get people excited about Firefox 4 on desktop and mobile.  MDN The Kung-fu Saloon was packed throughout the evening. The tacos were great, the beer was flowing… and there was an interesting mix of local hackers, SXSW attendees and a bunch of college kids. Oh, and the vintage video game machines were cool too. It was great to support the AustinJS community and overall a great way to put our Mozilla stamp on one of the events of the week where we probably had the most people in attendance that we wanted to connect with.

I think that covers most of it… I probably would blog for a month talking about all the people I met, the sessions I attended and my favorite food trucks around Austin, but for now that’s probably more than I should have put into one post. :-) There was just so much going on and a lot to take in during my first SXSW experience… that I know for sure that I need to go back to do it again. Next time though I won’t be a “South by” newbie and hopefully will be able to better navigate one of the most interesting conferences/festivals happening in the world today. Some say it’s gotten too big and that it isn’t the same as it used to be, but if I learned anything from my “first time”, it was that no matter how big it gets, as long as you know where to go and have people to meet up with, you can make it as small and intimate as you want it to be.


04
Nov 10

MDN 0.9.1 released

Today we successfully pushed out the first of many updates to the new MDN website. This first Danger Mouse (0.9.x) release focused on tweaks based on community feedback and will set us up for more improvements to come.

With MDN 0.9.1, we made the following notable changes to give visitors a better experience at https://developer.mozilla.org:

  • “DevMo intro” bar is now hidden for frequent visitors
  • Promo box is smaller so other content can be above the fold
  • “Quick Reference” to popular content replaces the Twitter feed
  • “Firefox 4 for Developers” block to get developers access to all the latest features they can look forward to
  • “MDN Forums” block to encourage more discussions there
  • “Applications” have been relabeled “Mozilla” throughout the site so that our open source project contributors can find what they need
  • “Docs” have been relabeled “Doc Center” so that “MDC” can live on as the MDN Doc Center
  • New videos added to the Mobile and Add-ons pages highlighting presentation from Stuart (Fennec), Ragavan (Sync) and Myk (Add-on Builder)

Thanks for everyone that helped get this first release out… there’s definitely more to come. We plan to do more incremental releases for MDN 0.9.x (aka Danger Mouse) to further improve the MDN experience.

You can look forward to a new Deki skin to match the look of MDN, single sign on for MDN/Deki/forums, developer profiles for our members and localization of new content to start. From there, we’ll work with our documentation and developer communities to get feedback and iterate some more. So stay tuned.

Thanks! – Jay


05
Oct 10

Web Developers and the Open Web – survey results

We just finished compiling the data from our Q3 “Web Developers & the Open Web” survey and will be presenting the results next week. My intern Brian Louie and I worked with Joan Green, a research consultant, to design a survey that would enable us to get a snapshot of what web developers are working on, where they go to get information and their overall perceptions of the open web.

For those that are interested in hearing more about what we’ve learned, please join us for our brownbag on Wednesday, October 13th at 1:00pm PST. We’ll also be streaming on Air Mozilla.

UPDATE: The report that Joan will be covering during our brownbag is embedded below.

Web Developers & the Open Web – Survey Results

– Jay


30
Jun 10

MDN Roadmap for 2010

It was great to see a nice turnout for the MDN brownbag today.  There were a lot of great questions and people are excited about our plans for take the MDN website and our documentation platform to the next level.   I look forward to continuing the conversation at the Mozilla Summit next week.

The MDN team will be having a breakout session on Friday afternoon, so I hope people will be able to make it.  In the meantime, here  is some study material. :-)

Mozilla Developer Network : Roadmap 2010


29
Jun 10

Sharing the MDN roadmap

The Mozilla engagement team has seen a lot of change in the past few months and while it has been challenging to continue the momentum we built last year around the Mozilla Developer Network, it’s time to pick up the pace.   A lot of discussions have happened and planning has begun to guide our MDN vision through the rest of 2010 and into next year.

I plan to share the current roadmap for the MDN website and programs tomorrow during a public brownbag.  Here are the details:

  • MDN roadmap for 2010 and beyond
  • Wednesday, June 30th 2010 @ TIME CHANGED to 1:30pm!
  • Mozilla HQ in Ten Forward and via Air Mozilla
  • Dial-in info for those that want to call in: 1-800-707-2533 (password 369) or 1-650-215-1282 (extension 92#)….then dial Conference number 8600#

I have not yet had an opportunity to share a lot of information with the broader community, so let me provide some background.    The concept for the MDN was conceived last summer after Blizzard’s successful 35 days of Firefox blog that highlighted developer features in Firefox 3.5.   We saw an opportunity to build on that success and decided to redesign the blog and relaunch the Hacks blog as a channel to communicate the latest open Web innovations with our web developer community.  We also conducted some developer community research to learn more about our developer segments and how we could better engage with them.  Both the November 2009 and March 2010 surveys were successful and have provided us with a lot of insights to help drive future programs.

We learned a lot through our first few MDN projects and quickly realized that the next big challenge was to give MDC/DevMo an upgrade.  We started by making some minor changes to the current homepage to introduce the MDN brand and share more information targeted at our diverse developer community.  And we will soon unveil a completely redesigned front-end to http://developer.mozilla.org  and officially introduce the “new” MDN website… so stay tuned!

Tomorrow’s brownbag will focus on our initial launch plans for the MDN website and provide an overview of things to come over the next few months.  We have ambitious goals to create an active communication hub for developers and improve our documentation center to address the needs of our community,  so please join us if you are interested in what’s coming up for the MDN.

UPDATE: Slides for those that couldn’t make it or had trouble seeing via AirMozilla: http://www.scribd.com/doc/33755615/Mozilla-Developer-Network-Roadmap-2010