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What is Responsive and Adaptive Web Design?

No website is complete these days without at least considering mobile. Based on comScore's latest annual report on the mobile landscape, '2012 Mobile Future in Focus'?, smartphones and tablets were responsible for nearly 8% of all observed internet traffic in the United States at the end of 2011. Another study from comScore showed that more than 70% of users who use mobile social media use it daily. It's imperative now, more than ever, that your site is both accessible via mobile devices and easy to interact with. So, how to make that happen? Let's dive into some geek speak'?¦ Responsive Design A responsive website is simply a design that can stretch and rearrange itself based on the width of the browser rendering the site. In the past, servers would serve up whole different websites after detecting whether a user was viewing their site on a PC or a mobile device. These standalone, mobile-formatted sites were simplified versions of their parent sites, usually with limited functionality to increase page speeds over a slow connection. When tablets started becoming more prominent, there was a need for websites that sat somewhere between a smart phone and a PC. Then, as smartphones became smarter, you had higher quality resolutions with different layout modes -- which ultimately meant a lot to account for if you were developing individual sites for each device. Responsive design solves the problem at a very low level by resizing and rearranging elements on the screen to fit the user's device. This is usually accomplished through a combination of fluid grids, flexible images and media queries. Responsive design is a lot easier to implement and maintain as websites evolve with more functionality. Progressive Enhancement Sometimes you will run across a website on your phone that simply does not work. Sometimes you can't navigate the dropdown menus. Other times, there is just too much content. Progressive enhancement is the practice of catering to the lowest common denominator and selectively adding functionality based on a user's capabilities. Web developers have been using a similar approach for a while in order to ensure features in newer browsers (e.g. Chrome and Firefox) degrade nicely in older browsers (e.g. IE6). Responsive Design + Progressive Enhancement = Adaptive Design Now, take what we've learned about responsive design, add in our concept of progressive enhancement, and we have adaptive design. There is still some debate over the use of "adaptive design" vs "adaptive layout," but I don't want to argue semantics as the idea is much more important. The important thing to note is by using progressive enhancement along with a responsive layout, we can conditionally introduce functionality like multi-touch, geo-location and native smartphone integration. This allows us to create a better user experience based on a user's capabilities. There are plenty of excellent resources out there to help guide you down the responsive/adaptive road, so for the purpose of this post I'm going to try and keep things as simple as possible. You can learn more in this A List Apart article about Responsive Design and this Smashing Magazine article about Responsive Design. Don't Fight The Future The web is changing to meet the changing needs of its users. We started with crazy flash intros and entire websites stuffed into tables. Now, we're starting to see the importance of accessibility and developing sites to meet different use cases. If you think this is just a trend, you will get left behind. If you made it this far, it's time for you to test your own site on your phone. Make sure to click around a bit. Even better, ask a friend to access your website on their own phone and give you feedback. Here are some online tools to help with testing: W3C MobileOK Checker iPad Peek Google Mobile View Happy smart phone browsing!

I'm Uber Excited about Uber

It's the quintessential night out in downtown Boston. You and all your friends meet up at [fill in the blank] bar for drinks and good times. Shortly before 2am the lights come on, coats are gathered and everyone - at every bar in the area - heads outside to hail a cab... simultaneously. What usually follows is 10-90 minutes of arm-extended frustration as I curse the anonymous backseat riders who drive by in unlit taxis. Well, not anymore. This weekend I finally tried out the relatively-new "on-demand private driver" service, Uber. For the past few months I've read articles about Uber's burgeoning growth and observed a growing number of complimentary tweets fill my news feed. Partially inspired by these positive reviews, but mainly motivated by the out-of-order ATM and the crowd of other bar patrons lining Tremont Street, I decided to give Uber a shot this past Saturday night. Let me say, it was a life changing experience. In less than 5 minutes, I downloaded Uber's iPhone app, set-up a personal profile, requested a car and got picked up. That's right. 5 minutes from searching the App store to being in the backseat of Ameur's (my driver) sedan. Here's a quick overview of how the service works: Request a ride from anywhere at any time via SMS or by using Uber's iPhone or Android apps (GPS pinpoints your specific location and provides to Uber) Uber dispatches the nearest driver to pick you up and immediately provides an estimated arrival time. Via the app, you can actually watch your black car en route to your location Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride... cash free. Uber automatically charges the cost of the ride - including tip - to the credit card you have on file. Pricing is based on a flat base fare ($7 in Boston) and then incremental charges based on distance/time The overall experience was terrific. After arriving at my destination, I immediately received a receipt via email and was encouraged to rate my driver on a 1-5 star scale. The cost of the ride was relatively comparable to a taxi (perhaps a few dollars more), but the overall experience was head and shoulders above taking a cab home. Available in Boston, Chicago, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, D.C. and soon in LA and Toronto - Uber marries the best of technology and convenience to provide a stellar consumer experience. I highly recommend downloading the app and giving Uber a try. And with promises that this is a totally unsolicited endorsement, I will also share that they have a great referral program to motivate trial. Sign up with this link and get $10 off your first ride! https://clients.uber.com/#!/invite/jv4kz. Any other Uber fans out there? Let me know about your experiences so far in the comments section below!

I'm Uber Excited about Uber

It's the quintessential night out in downtown Boston. You and all your friends meet up at [fill in the blank] bar for drinks and good times. Shortly before 2am the lights come on, coats are gathered and everyone - at every bar in the area - heads outside to hail a cab... simultaneously. What usually follows is 10-90 minutes of arm-extended frustration as I curse the anonymous backseat riders who drive by in unlit taxis. Well, not anymore. This weekend I finally tried out the relatively-new "on-demand private driver" service, Uber. For the past few months I've read articles about Uber's burgeoning growth and observed a growing number of complimentary tweets fill my news feed. Partially inspired by these positive reviews, but mainly motivated by the out-of-order ATM and the crowd of other bar patrons lining Tremont Street, I decided to give Uber a shot this past Saturday night. Let me say, it was a life changing experience. In less than 5 minutes, I downloaded Uber's iPhone app, set-up a personal profile, requested a car and got picked up. That's right. 5 minutes from searching the App store to being in the backseat of Ameur's (my driver) sedan. Here's a quick overview of how the service works: Request a ride from anywhere at any time via SMS or by using Uber's iPhone or Android apps (GPS pinpoints your specific location and provides to Uber) Uber dispatches the nearest driver to pick you up and immediately provides an estimated arrival time. Via the app, you can actually watch your black car en route to your location Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride... cash free. Uber automatically charges the cost of the ride - including tip - to the credit card you have on file. Pricing is based on a flat base fare ($7 in Boston) and then incremental charges based on distance/time The overall experience was terrific. After arriving at my destination, I immediately received a receipt via email and was encouraged to rate my driver on a 1-5 star scale. The cost of the ride was relatively comparable to a taxi (perhaps a few dollars more), but the overall experience was head and shoulders above taking a cab home. Available in Boston, Chicago, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, D.C. and soon in LA and Toronto - Uber marries the best of technology and convenience to provide a stellar consumer experience. I highly recommend downloading the app and giving Uber a try. And with promises that this is a totally unsolicited endorsement, I will also share that they have a great referral program to motivate trial. Sign up with this link and get $10 off your first ride! https://clients.uber.com/#!/invite/jv4kz. Any other Uber fans out there? Let me know about your experiences so far in the comments section below!

  • 2 min read
  • March 5, 2012

Jess and Jobs: a 21st Century Love Story

Steve Jobs died last week and it made me sad. It's confusing because I don't know the man, but his death tugged at my heartstrings in a way that was unique, and I believe it may be because of how his creations have shaped my life. His first computer came out the year that I was born and it is possible that this is what initially connected us, but from that point on Steve Jobs and I have had what can be best described as a lifelong love affair. Looking back on the beginning of our relationship I remember that I learned to type on the original Macintosh that looks like a concrete block (and is now prominently featured in museums and lofts as pieces of kitschy art, mostly to remind me of how old I am). At first introduction to Apple I marveled at the triangular cursor that I could move by manipulating the old rectangular mouse, and I made sure to regularly clean the device to ensure it worked properly. It was like it innately understood what I wanted to do, and it helped me get there. It was all so new and exciting when I listened to those first versions of a LaserWriter printer screech out my rudimentary illustrations, and when I first played Oregon Trail'?¦ oh I was in a new, heavenly world. When my family upgraded to a Macintosh II it was as though I was seeing the world through new eyes, and my sisters and I spent hours working our way through the trails of the game. Mac always had a way to bond the three of us together over these games and it was as a united Margolis-Pineo team we learned what polio was and how to feed our virtual families, and we often made it all the way to Oregon. (Well, someone usually died along the way.) Middle school rolled around and so did a required computer class, and thankfully our school had all Macintosh computers so we got to stay together during this awkward time. Learning to type was required for both boys and girls (only made mandatory for boys the year before!), so we used this time to flirt and print out pages of filthy words. The printers worked faster so we could get away with it at this point, and because I was already so comfortable with my old friend I didn't invest much time into learning during this class. Taking the flirting out of the classroom we'd spend hours at night using our dial-up internet to chat via AIM on our Mac at home. Was my affinity with the adolescent boys, or at the beautiful ease of communication with my Mac? I'll never be sure. Then came high school and we both changed so much. I walked the line of nerd-dom, and my old familiar Mac was barely recognizable. The new iMacs sported a bright blue back and pod-like shape, something very new and wild for my book-ish tastes. Unfortunately, the new iMacs were much more popular than I was and there was always a waiting list to use the new space-age computers, so I barely got any time alone with cool, high school Mac. And when my older sister got a new iMac and ran off to college with it, I was insane with jealousy and completely devastated. I thought I knew them so well! When it was my turn to go to college I worked all summer to buy myself a new iBook ' the same one I still use today. Like an old married couple we know each other so well that our time together is seamless and comfortable ' it knows all of my deepest, darkest searches. To spice up our romance I introduced an iPhone in to the mix last year, and the three of us have been a happy trio ever since. While it pains me to be without my iBook, I never have to leave the house without my iPhone. The Apple Company and Steve Jobs have been a part of my life longer than most of my closest friends and having them grow with me has shaped the way I've lived my life. Does it all have to come to an end now that Steve Jobs is no longer around to put his visions in to practice? No. I know that while the pioneer of these creations is gone it doesn't mean that his legacy and our affair is, and I am excited to see where the next chapter of our love story will take us.

So You Want An App?

On the business development front, we've noticed a handful of clients and prospects that have expressed interest in developing a downloadable application for their brands. Who can blame them? I personally get giddy every time I fire up the Urbanspoon app on my iPhone. "Where should I eat tonight?? The possibilities are ENDLESS!" And we've all killed an hour or 70 playing Angry Birds. But is this the right solution for your brand / product / service / Russian mob scam? Let's examine a few questions that you should ask yourself to see if it makes sense. Will it drive sales? First you need to be honest with yourself and ask, 'Is this critical to my business?'? For a brand like REI to develop a mobile app with e-commerce capability that allows users to purchase a new camping tent with a few swipes, a mobile app can be an incredibly powerful way to connect to users. The app delivers a new, convenient purchase channel to drive sales thereby justifying the ROI for building an app in the first place. However, if your brand is Yoplait, you may need to think twice since the same e-commerce opportunity is not there. Instead, you'll likely explore content centered around brand positioning and identity, perhaps exploring more health-specific / promotional content. Which brings us to our next point'?¦ Will it be good? Sounds easy, right? Let's continue to use the Yoplait example. So we can't purchase online (cause that'd be gross) but maybe instead we build an app tied to healthy dieting and exercise. That is a very competitive space and you'll be competing with best-in-class applications that will often be so much more robust with content, support, maintenance and updates. Think about the competition among health (Lose It!, Weight Watchers Mobile, Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker) and fitness (Nike+GPS, FitnessBuilder, RunKeeper). Building a mobile app on the cheap to compete against these is like trying to build a bike in your garage on the weekend, then racing it in the Tour de France in July. Although this space is expected to experience tremendous growth (2010: 10.9 billion downloads; 2014 (projected): 76.9 billion downloads!), maintaining user engagement will continue to be a challenge as one in four apps that are downloaded are only used once. Will it be costly? It could be. Very quickly. Alarmingly so. Let's say you wanted to develop an app for iPhones, which only account for a quarter of the total smartphone market. Don

Grammy Award Winning Band Touring the US with Tons of Downtime? There's an App for that'?¦

I know I'm not alone in thinking the iPad is for the most part, pretty pointless. Is it an e-reader, a gaming device or an iPod for old people with bad eyesight? I'm head over heels in love with everything my iPhone and iPod Touch have to offer, and one of the things I adore the most is their portability. My purse is literally overflowing at all times, and I can't imagine adding a 1.5 pound 9.56'? x 7.47'? x .5'? device to the mix. When I need a bigger screen or yearn for a keyboard, I turn to my MacBook Pro. However, when Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn told NME Magazine last month that his band was poised to release the first album ever recorded on an iPad, I was intrigued. 'I've made it on an iPad ' I hope I'll be making the first record on an iPad,'? he said. 'I fell in love with my iPad as soon as I got it, so I've made a completely different kind of record.'? I'm not familiar with the countless music production applications out there, or their capabilities, but I can't help but wonder if 'completely different'? will translate to 'awful sound quality.'? I'm skeptical, but my Bose headphones and I are ready to be proven wrong. The Gorillaz album, titled 'The Fall'?, will be released as a free download for fan club members on Christmas day, and is expected to be distributed through traditional music channels in 2011. Fans are excited to hear new music from the band, whose last album was released in March 2010, and typically average 4-5 years between projects. Now, I'm sure there are millions of bands in basements across America who are ready to dispute the fact that the Gorillaz album will be the first produced on an iPad, but it will likely be the first to get any global attention. The idea that the iPad can be used for creation, not just consumption, excites me. If the device  helps busy musicians that might not be fortunate enough to have a mobile recording studio on their tour bus deliver new content to their fans, then I'm all for it. Music has played a huge role in Apple's TV advertising, and has offered several artists (including the Gorillaz in 2005) a career boost over the years.  Despite a recent Microsoft endorsement deal by the Gorillaz, Albarn is hyping the iPad and its capabilities, and Apple would be smart to take advantage. I'm predicting a 2011 iPad commercial that features a new Gorillaz song from their album created on an actual iPad. I mean, seriously, does it get any better than that? Sources: http://nme.com, http://gorillaz.com, http://www.twitter.com/gorillazband

Grammy Award Winning Band Touring the US with Tons of Downtime? There's an App for that'?¦

I know I'm not alone in thinking the iPad is for the most part, pretty pointless. Is it an e-reader, a gaming device or an iPod for old people with bad eyesight? I'm head over heels in love with everything my iPhone and iPod Touch have to offer, and one of the things I adore the most is their portability. My purse is literally overflowing at all times, and I can't imagine adding a 1.5 pound 9.56'? x 7.47'? x .5'? device to the mix. When I need a bigger screen or yearn for a keyboard, I turn to my MacBook Pro. However, when Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn told NME Magazine last month that his band was poised to release the first album ever recorded on an iPad, I was intrigued. 'I've made it on an iPad ' I hope I'll be making the first record on an iPad,'? he said. 'I fell in love with my iPad as soon as I got it, so I've made a completely different kind of record.'? I'm not familiar with the countless music production applications out there, or their capabilities, but I can't help but wonder if 'completely different'? will translate to 'awful sound quality.'? I'm skeptical, but my Bose headphones and I are ready to be proven wrong. The Gorillaz album, titled 'The Fall'?, will be released as a free download for fan club members on Christmas day, and is expected to be distributed through traditional music channels in 2011. Fans are excited to hear new music from the band, whose last album was released in March 2010, and typically average 4-5 years between projects. Now, I'm sure there are millions of bands in basements across America who are ready to dispute the fact that the Gorillaz album will be the first produced on an iPad, but it will likely be the first to get any global attention. The idea that the iPad can be used for creation, not just consumption, excites me. If the device  helps busy musicians that might not be fortunate enough to have a mobile recording studio on their tour bus deliver new content to their fans, then I'm all for it. Music has played a huge role in Apple's TV advertising, and has offered several artists (including the Gorillaz in 2005) a career boost over the years.  Despite a recent Microsoft endorsement deal by the Gorillaz, Albarn is hyping the iPad and its capabilities, and Apple would be smart to take advantage. I'm predicting a 2011 iPad commercial that features a new Gorillaz song from their album created on an actual iPad. I mean, seriously, does it get any better than that? Sources: http://nme.com, http://gorillaz.com, http://www.twitter.com/gorillazband

Mobile Browser vs. the App and Me ' A Love Triangle

v:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} --> A recent Adweek article, 'Do Mobile Users Prefer Browsers Over Apps?'? piqued my interest about the pros and cons of viewing different media on mobile browsers vs. viewing the same media on specific apps on their mobile phones. I began evaluating my own mobile phone behavior - do I prefer a mobile browser to an app? When do I decide to download an app instead of view the website on a mobile browser? Are there sites that I view on both my mobile browser and in an app format? My personal app library includes only a handful of my most trusted and useful applications: Gmail, Facebook, Weather, Pandora & Skype Mobile ' The newest music, connecting with family & friends, and knowing if I should pack an umbrella for my morning commute are important to me, thus I downloaded the apps. Some tech savvy people have a wider array of apps for variety of different mobile needs ' social media, games, and local apps. However, it's clear that the quantity and specific type of application downloaded varies by each individual person's needs and interests.  There are many websites and services that consumers find more useful in mobile app format, versus a mobile browser ' for example social media sites, music & games. This is illustrated by the Adobe Mobile Experience survey. However, today's mobile browsers (whether you have an Android, Blackberry or iPhone) are often better suited for consumers' needs. While I commonly use the Facebook application, I sometimes switch to my mobile browser when the app leaves something to be desired. For example, when using the Android Facebook app, users can't see who 'likes'? their status (only how many people 'like'? them), notifications are downloaded only every 30 minutes, and users must go to the mobile site to read/respond to a notification. Although these are minor drawbacks, they are reasons that an Android user such as myself would have to switch to their mobile browser to view their Facebook page, in addition to using the app. Although the Android Facebook app is not perfect ' I always view my Facebook profile through the app first, and if I crave something more, I move on to my mobile browser. This proves that the mobile application provides more advantages than disadvantages for me. However, I prefer to use my mobile browser for the majority of my online web surfing needs, such as shopping and the news. With the various advantages & disadvantages of every unique app, brands should evaluate their target market's mobile phone behavior before investing in app development, since it is easy and sometimes more convenient for consumers to view content via their mobile browser. Title: Mobile Browser vs. the App and Me ' A Love Triangle   A recent Adweek article, 'Do Mobile Users Prefer Browsers Over Apps?'? piqued my interest about the pros and cons of viewing different media on mobile browsers vs. viewing the same media on specific apps on their mobile phones.I began evaluating my own mobile phone behavior-do I prefer a mobile browser to an app?When do I decide to download an app instead of view the website on a mobile browser? Are there sites that I view on both my mobile browser and in an app format? My personal app library includes only a handful of my most trusted and useful applications: Gmail, Facebook, Weather, Pandora & Skype Mobile ' The newest music, connecting with family & friends, and knowing if I should pack an umbrella for my morning commute are important to me, thus I downloaded the apps.Some tech savvy people have a wide array of apps for variety of different mobile needs' social media, games, and local apps. However, it's clear that the quantity and specific type of application downloaded varies by each individual person's needs and interests.There are many websites and services that consumers find more useful in mobile app format, versus a mobile browser ' for example social media sites, music & games. This is illustrated by the Adobe Mobile Experience survey. However, today's mobile browsers (whether you have an Android, Blackberry or iPhone) are often better suited for the consumers' needs.While I commonly use the Facebook application, I sometimes switch to my mobile browser when the app leaves something to be desired. For example, when using the Android Facebook app, users can't see who 'likes'? their status (only how many people 'like'? them), notifications are downloaded onlyevery 30 minutes, and users must go to the mobile site to read/respond to a notification.Although these are minor drawbacks, they are reasons that an Android user such as myself would have to switch to their mobile browser to view their Facebook page, in addition to using the app. Although the Android Facebook app is not perfect ' I always view my Facebook profile through the app first, and if I crave something more, I move on to my mobile browser. This proves that the mobile application provides more advantages than disadvantages for me. However, I prefer to use my mobile browser for the majority of my online web surfing needs, such as shopping and the news. With the various advantages & disadvantages of every unique app, brands should evaluate their target market's mobile phone behavior before investing in app development, since it is easy and sometimes more convenient for consumers to view content via their mobile browser. Tag: http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/digital/e3i5094e406e415c280a20521b39297a826

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