Send to mobile? A pain in the ass! epicwhale, Jan 20

It was early 2010 and we needed the addresses of quite a few companies for an errand we had to run. We were visiting each of their websites and noting down addresses on a random piece of paper. A little into it, we realized how we could simply use Justdial. We realized the second reason we loved Justdial was because they simply send you all the information you need in an ad-free and fat-free sms. Saved us a lot of time!

We even witnessed this feature on websites like burrp, sulekha, mouthshut and justdial in the form of “Send to Mobile” buttons. Its a tiny feature from the users point of view, but it can really save you a LOT of work the few times you may bother using it. We loved it and we thought of implementing it on a few of our client’s websites. We thought it wouldn’t be too difficult… its just a javascript popup and some backend/ajax code anyway! But here we are after experiencing it, telling you truly what a pain in the ass it could be (and has been for us):

  • Convenience: Even though bulk sms isn’t too expensive, we’d have to buy a new sms gateway account or sender id for every website. Along with it came the headache of regularly checking balances and renewals.
  • Security: Easy to use, but even easier to misuse. Providing this great functionality feels interesting, but having to deal with spamming, flooding, logging, limits, captcha, etc already felt tedious.
  • Easy integration: We needed something we could easily plug in and out of websites but it turned out that all the security and logging features would require a lot more setup and management from server to server.
  • Reliable and fast: Picking the right one, having a backup and being able to switch sms gateways in future felt important for a near-instant and reliable delivery. This is a trial and error process and we’ve tried so many providers before we locked on a few! (and lost some money in the process of doing so.)
  • Privacy Protection: This one is a bigger deal than most webmasters think it is. Everyone is complaining about promotional phone calls and junk sms a week after they are exposed to some kind of sms service. The truth is that a lot of sms gateways do not have a transparent privacy policy and/or they are very possibly selling your customers information to third-party-advertisers.

So we decided, chuck it.. let’s just build one uniform widget that takes care of everything we need and worry about; and host it on our own servers. We can keep improving security and features over time while our clients can just integrate it via some easy javascript code – similar to sharethis, addthis or facebook. A week into this idea, it felt like the world’s simplest sms gateway. It felt like the journey a web startup would want to go through. So we said yes, let every website in India use it, for free!

Here we are a few months after putting in a lot of work into that simple thought we started off with. Now, it ironically looks like we just made something simple, recognizable and usable for every website in India. Its called textme!

So try it to save yourself and your visitors the butt pain. BTW, we didn’t mean to offend anyone or their butts.

 
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