October 29, 2012
In Part 2 of our series, we’ll reveal the benefits and certain drawbacks of responsive design along with the design challenges that are involved.
Responsive design is the most flexible way to address the many screen sizes on the market today. When implemented correctly, a responsively designed site can be effective on practically all screen sizes, in both portrait and landscape orientations.
One of the primary benefits of utilizing a responsive design is its need for only one code base. In other words, utilizing a site built this way can eliminate the need to develop a separate mobile site or even build a native app – both of which require the use of additional time, resources and money.
Savings can also be seen when performing maintenance and updates on the site. Changes can be made in one place unlike having two sets of code for desktop and mobile. Once you publish those changes, the updates will conveniently be seen immediately across all devices – pretty cool stuff.
Your site’s web presence will also benefit from having one set of code. The site will live on one URL with one site path, allowing you to focus your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Additionally, the use of a single site path eliminates the need for site redirects, allowing mobile users to easily navigate between pages. Keep in mind that native apps aren’t accessible through a search engine, so a site that caters to both desktop computers and mobile devices is ideal for SEO. Search engines favor responsive design over having a desktop and mobile version with repetitive content. For instance, Google favors a single URL because it helps their algorithms assign indexing properties to your content. Bing is also in favor of responsive sites and even states that, “redirection to alternative URLs for mobile content…is not the approach we recommend for best SEO results.”
Despite the many advantages of utilizing responsive design, slower loading times can be a considerable drawback. The same images and graphics that are used in a desktop design are also loaded on mobile devices. Where a mobile site may be able to load smaller images and omit certain features or content, a responsive design site will potentially load larger images and content which can affect the speed.
Well-executed responsive design can load smaller graphics first, then conditionally load larger graphics if the browser is large enough. If this is done correctly, the effect on loading times can be mitigated and the site can deliver a speedy mobile experience.
In Part 3 of our series, we will uncover the enhanced user experience that responsive design can offer your site, and discuss times when a separate mobile site or native app makes sense. If you would like to find out how building a responsive site can help your business or client, please contact Smooth Fusion at 806.771.3873 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 16, 2010
Google recently introduced the WebFinger protocol and enabled it for all Gmail account.
What is WebFinger?
WebFinger is a protocol that can be used to attach public profile information to an email address. Engineers have been fumbling around with ways to standardize the way profile information is shared for years. Remember OpenID? Or Facebook Connect? Many of these products have major shortcomings. With OpenID, users have to remember a provider URL and yet another account login. With Facebook Connect, we're at the mercy of Facebook with regards to how data is handled.
The interesting thing about WebFinger, is that information can be attached to an email address. Email is required for just about anything you do on the web so it makes sense that data about a profile should be attached to it.
WebFinger is about making already public information more easily discoverable, not uncovering private data.While a WebFinger profile may have information about the location of a user's Facebook profile, it won't contain data secured by Facebook.
What kind of profile data can you get from WebFinger?
WebFinger can support all kinds of data. Really, just about anything digital can in some way or another be added to a WebFinger profile. WebFinger data is delivered as XML and can include references to the source of the data, not just a copy of it. For example, if you have a public profile somewhere, and WebFinger knows about it, WebFinger would just display the URL to that public profile, not a copy of the data in it.
Google's implementation of WebFinger publishes user hCards, OpenID provider, Google public profile info, and other neat stuff.
What can marketers do with this?
What might be of obvious use is the amount of data that could be pulled down about a user. The data is public already, so there should be no problems with discovering and analyzing the data.
I think the more interesting application will be with the convenience the data can provide for users. For example, imagine a form where you want to gather a user's contact information. The form could be built so that as soon as the user enters an email address, WebFinger is used to prepopulate the form with the user's contact information.
What can be done today?
Obviously, this is still an emerging technology. However, the protocol is open and ready for experimentation. One idea is to create forms that enable WebFinger capabilities for Gmail users. Or, your organization could host your own WebFinger server to link public data about your employees. We'd love to hear from anybody building practical applications for WebFinger.
December 7, 2009
By now, you've probably heard of invite only, Google Wave.To appreciate all the new stuff packed into Google Wave, you should watch this very long video or this very short video below:
The best part about Wave is that it isn't just a Google only toy. Wave is a protocol designed such that eventually, anyone will be able to create their own Wave server. The protocol is specifically referred to as a "federation protocol" which means that Wave servers will be able to talk to each other. Eventually, Wave, or something like it, will replace email. We won't send emails, we'll start or respond to waves. However, this post isn't about future IT predictions.
Before I continue, I want to remind you about what email can do: send and receive text and attachments. Got it?
Today, I want to introduce you to the concept of Wave Gadgets and Wave Robots. First, a definition of Robots (aka: bots) from Wave Robot API documentation:
A robot is an automated participant on a wave. A robot can read the contents of a wave in which it participates, modify the wave's contents, add or remove participants, and create new blips and new waves. In short, a robot can perform many of the actions that any other participant can perform.
You can use a robot to perform actions such as the following:
modify information in a wave
interact with participants in a wave
communicate and synchronize information in a wave to the outside world or to other waves
access or modify state in a third-party (such as a database)
Here's an example. Let's say you want to tweet and view tweets from within a wave. Just create a wave, then add the Tweety Bot to the conversation (email@example.com). This bot is an application that could be hosted anywhere. In this case it is hosted by Google. After the bot is added to the conversation, it first displays a Twitter login screen directly within the wave. Let's pause for reflection...
Remember before, when we discussed what email can do? Send and receive text and attachments. Got it?
After you log in with Twitter, directly from within your wave, you can send a receive Tweets inside the wave. See this post for screenshots.
Another sample bot comes from Amazon. The bot scans your wave text and converts it to Amazon links and buttons where applicable. Check out the demo.
Now, about gadgets. From the Wave Gadget API documentation:
Wave gadgets typically aren't full blown applications, but small add-ons that improve certain types of conversations. For example, a wave might include a gadget that lets wave participants vote on where to go to lunch.
Wave can handle existing gadgets. But, creating Wave specific gadgets allows you to access things like user information and better handle wave playback.
Remember back in early 2009, when people used this archaic concept called "email"? Back then, if you wanted to conduct a poll, you had to send around the "email" which would contain links to a 3rd party site that users could interact with to cast their vote. Incredible right? Neanderthals...
With wave, you could use a polling gadget and embed it straight into the wave. Users participating in the wave vote right then, without leaving.
Your head is probably now swimming with ideas for bots and gadgets. If not, here's one idea to get you kickstarted. Bob's Pizza has a bot that listens to wave participant's conversation about favorite pizza ingredients and disliked pizza ingredients. The bot produces the ideal order for the pizza party and provides buttons to automatically call in the order and have the pizza delivered. The bot might even display special offers or topping ideas based on the conversation.
Or Tom's Electronics wants to send out coupons to the launch of a new store. Instead of just firing off coupons in email, he sends out waves with an embedded, puzzle gadget. The puzzle gadget requires multiple participants to solve. Wavers add participants to their wave to help solve the puzzle. After the puzzle is solved, all the wave participants get the coupon. The net effect is that more people get the coupon and users engage with the brand in a fun, social way.
Although the Wave protocol is federated, it hasn't yet surpassed email in adoption. Wave may never replace email completely, and even if it does, it will likely be a decade before it does.
However, Wave is already very popular and used by millions. If you are trying to market something to an early adoption type crowd, this platform seems ready to go.