movability is power

So, what does Derrick Fountain mean by "movability" and what makes it so powerful?

Movability from a technology perspective is the science of packaging and delivering content in re-publishable formats.

Can I get that piece of content to-go?

From a content perspective, movability is much like a "to-go box" for information. Like a great meal at your favorite restaurant, when you find yourself stuffed, and can't eat another bite, your courteous waiter asks, "Would you like that to go?"

When people are pressed for time, partially distracted, and are mentally "stuffed" with information, will you give them a to-go box for the road?

I'm constantly amazed by marketing dollars wasted on weak commercials that fail to move people to act on a advertising message, or dead-end product pages with no call-to-action, and flat news stories that have the movability factor of a large kitchen stove.

Can you Digg it?

The common "actions" consist of a set of "vanity" icons that link off to "social bookmarking" sites and 1.5 "real" actions, such as emailing a piece of content. Most of the time the only other meaningful action presented to the user is the "print" action, which really doesn't print anything. Instead, it simply reformats the page. So, I count the traditional desktop "print" action as "half" an action. The "vanity icons" for social bookmarking sites draw more traffic to the content but do nothing to move the user closer to the content. Um, no, I don't want to "Digg this", I want to take it to-go.

I realize that I may appear to be coming down hard on what I call "real" actions. There is no better example than on the mobile versions of your favorite news sites. If they do provide an action, its usually a replica of the "email to friend" form from their desktop website. Here's a side note for my friends in the mobile developer community.

1. Think mobile.
2. Design for the context of use.
3. When I'm mobile, I expect to do mobile things.

I'm sure the "social tools" icons row has its rightful place in certain circles. But for the 92% of Americans that are strictly concerned with reading what you have to say, let's give them something more meaningful.

So, what does any of this have to do with movability?

Every action that can be taken on a piece of should move the user closer to the content, not further away from it.

Mary moves content to her calendar because it allows her to block off time to read it on her own terms, and it syncs with the devices in her life. Phillip moves audio clips from his favorite news sites to his personal mp3 player to listen to on his morning jog.

Stephanie stopped printing interesting content to the DeskJet printer down the hall and started "printing" content to her Yahoo Mail account because of greater movability. Cynthia sends SMS links to her phone to help her "re-find" information.

Are you tagging along?

Movability gives users the power to move content freely between the various devices in their life. When so many marketing messages are being ignored, the victory will go to those brands that permeate the mind of the user by engaging them at multiple touch points. Brand XYZ is on their desktop calendar, on their Windows Mobile calendar, on their MP3 player, in their car stereo, in their SMS inbox on their mobile phone, in Outlook, in their Yahoo mail, in their e-Book reader, or in the printed sheets of paper sitting on the table next to a cup of coffee.

Are you a mover, or shaker?

When it comes to information, there are what I call "movers" and "shakers". Movers give users affordances and handles to hold on to when navigating a piece of content. Shakers lack sufficient handles, provide nothing to hold on to, and repeatedly "shake off" users.

People tend to move closer towards content that moves them. Moving content is content that draws and emotional response from the reader. A smile, a frown, anger, a sense of compassion. get the point. The reader "feels" it and is in some way "moved" by it.

Like a courteous waiter, offer them a to-go box for their "content", and let them get on with their life.