Mobile Know-How: Responsive Web Design

ImageEvery day, more than 1.3 million Android devices are activated globally — far more than the number of babies born each day. By 2016, there will be 1 billion smartphone users on the planet, with 257 million mobile phones and 126 million tablets used in the U.S. alone. And before the end of the year, more internet-connected mobile devices will roam the earth than people. Users are leaving their desktops behind, with more than half of all website traffic coming from handhelds now, and many users, especially in the Third World, have only their phones to connect to the Internet. [Sources: Cicso and Forrester Research as analyzed by TheNextWeb]

So, the better your website looks and functions on a small device, the more future-proof it will be. And especially if your company caters to women, think mobile first: a recent survey found that more women use smartphones than men (58% vs. 42%).

Successful brands have revamped their online presence to work on any device, be it desktop, tablet or mobile. We all crave communications that work everywhere — and we want to shop anywhere on the go. Web design is changing in the mobile age and adopting full tablet and mobile functionality. But why stop there? Since users want clean, simple, smart and scaled-down interfaces on their handhelds that load content quickly — why would they want anything different when returning to their desktops? Less is more on all platforms — and good content always matters.

Continue reading Mobile Know-How: Responsive Web Design

The Sins of Our [Web Development] Past

I just came across these pictures (top: homepage; bottom: sub-landing page) of my first, heavily text-based website that I built in 1998 (Hmmm. Where were screenshot options back then?). Here are larger sizes of the top and bottom images. The blue arrow blinked, and the site was entirely built by hand-coding with a strict print-layout style in mind. WYSIWYG editors or blogging platforms back then? Pah!

Notice, my email address was @compuserve.com… I was really into typography.

It is fun looking back. Back then, I experimented with HTML and made many (in hindsight), horrible design choices. But there weren’t that many templates and how-to guidelines to go by.

Now, the same site looks like this, with CSS3 and HTML5 and social media plug ins, Google Analytics and what not.

We’ve come a long way. Here is a stunning infographic about the evolution of the web. Another graphic by Mashable shows the progress in web design over the years. And check out here how Amazon, Google, Apple and Hotmail, among others, looked like just 10 years ago.

On that same note, here is a website dedicated to web designs of the past: “What Was the First Website You Designed.” You can submit your own first designs there. Don’t be shy.

And to all you non-designers or web developers who grew up with the ease of social media and blogging platforms to publish your stuff: Don’t smirk. Not so long ago, we were pretty much left on our own to come up with what you might take for granted now.

UPDATE: Found the amazing Waybackmachine by Internet Archive (http://archive.org/web/web.php) that lets you search screenshots of any site over the years. Check my site going back to 1999 or plug in an URL and go back in time.

2012 Previews and 2011 Reviews

At year’s end and the new year’s beginning, I suppose it is inevitable to look back to forge ahead. Here are some interesting takes on the past, present and future. Expect longer blog posts about some of those trends throughout the next months. Let me know which topics interest you most.

  • Here is Time Magazine’s list of the 50 Best Websites of 2011.
  • A list of The Best of TedGlobal 2011.
  • Poynter discusses Three Trends From 2011 That Will Reshape Digital News in 2012: “Storytelling is more than an author’s words; Facebook means news and e-readers and tablets go mainstream.”
    …Now, if impoverished editors and writers only could afford those…
  • The Nieman Journalism Lab‘s Predictions for Journalism 2012: Numerous renowned authors and media analysts predict that social media will get boring and its bubble will burst, the dawn of “appification media,”  the control of free-flow information, credibility will be back, pay walls will increase, streaming home pages will be the norm, the rise of the tablets will bring about personalized platforms, mobile payments and big data will be the next big thing and the focus will return to the writer (!!). Good times.
  • Some good news about the future of news in 2011 offers the Canadian Journalism Project: “It’s possible that 2011 will come to be seen as a watershed year; the year that saw the emergence of a business model that might actually allow risky, time-consuming and expensive journalism to be pursued, allow journalists to get paid a living wage, and allow media companies to make a reasonable return on their investment.”
    …Pinch me, I’m dreaming…
  • CNET‘s 2012 predictions: “News readers” — “It’s a long way from 3D printers and Kinects to tablet and smartphone-based news readers, but in the world of tech culture, aggregators [and apps] like Flipboard, Zite, and Pulse are growing in importance every day.”
More to come.

Quickshots: December

Wired Magazine’s new look was introduced in its January 2012 issue. Old media and New Media meet: “The redesign is an entirely new platform for what Wired has become: not just ink on paper but increasingly, pixels on screen,” state the editors in their introduction.

According to Wired, 20% of their readers read the magazine in digital format (a number that strikes me as rather low for its sophisticated, wired, cutting-edge audience. But then again, also geeks like to read print).

“[With the redesign], the structure and format of every page is built to adapt seamlessly to digital form,” the editors write. “Every layout starts with the same challenge for the designer: How do you organize the page in a fresh and interesting way? Our solution was to simplify. Simplicity can be the most essential tool for navigating complexity.”

I couldn’t agree more. Well done.

 ♦

“The number of jobs eliminated in the newspaper industry rose by nearly 30% in 2011 from the prior year.” (via Reflections of a Newsosaur). “In other words, the decline in newsroom employment has been twice as great since 2007 as the 11% drop in over-all industry employment.”

A total of 3,775+ jobs lost. And you thought the recessions was over?

 ♦

We still remember the importance of “above the fold” placement of articles in the newspaper. New media don’t have the same restrictions, right?

“Wrong,” writes Emily Smith on the blog Design Festival. “The term was ported over to the web. It refers to any content that can’t be seen in your current browser window without scrolling or manipulation. This means that on most web viewing experiences, no matter the device, the fold exists.”

But should we pay attention to it?

 ♦

‎”We’re not out of the woods yet, but Web publishing is starting to hit its stride. Product offerings are getting smarter, prices are getting better and, most importantly, content is getting more interesting. We might not even be half way to the future of publishing yet, but the industry is picking up steam,” writes Jon Mitchell on ReadWriteWeb. 

There are new ways to read, new ways to write and new ways to advertise. Publishing is a rapidly changing high-tech business now, so the tools change the content and vice versa. Established publishers have lots of inertia, so the changes won’t sweep the world overnight, but here in the blogosphere, there’s a palpable sense of excitement.”

 ♦

Kind of creepy, but  Heatmaps Reveal Where People Look on Social Media Sites, reveals the Inbound Internet Marketing Blog. The technology follows eyeball movement of readers on the web to determine which content their eyes gravitate to on a webpage. Mashable commissioned a study called EyeTrackShop, a startup that performs heatmap studies for marketers, to see where people look on popular social media sites.

And, who knew, content still matters! The study found that people gravitate to where the content is: to the Facebook Wall of a friends for example. Also Facebook brand page visitors “almost always saw the wall first, and spent more time looking at it than any other element on the page,” according to Mashable.

“Time spent on mobile phones per day on average increased 30% in 2011 to an hour and 5 minutes, easily more than the combined 44 minutes devoted to print magazines and newspapers combined,” according to a new report by Nielsen State of the Media: The Mobile Media Report” that offers a snapshot of the current mobile media landscape and audiences in the U.S. and highlights the potential power of mobile commerce in the near future.

Forward to any young media consumer you know. This should be obvious but apparently many youngsters have no clue: Be skeptical, distinguish between news, facts, opinion and lies — The News Literacy Project. The project was introduced by a PBS Newshour report on Dec. 13. Read the transcript here.

Quickshots: November

What was it like to be the top press photographer in New York City in the days “Before the Paparazzi?”

The Deadline Club has issued a statement concerning the arrests of journalists at the Occupy Wall Street protests:”The Deadline Club condemns the actions of the New York Police Department in detaining journalists who were covering the Occupy Wall Street protests on Tuesday, Nov. 15 and on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. As the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Deadline Club believes that a free press is a cornerstone of our democracy and opposes any police interference with journalists in the lawful pursuance of their reporting. We urge that any journalists who are in custody be released and that any charges against the detained journalists be dropped immediately.”

I was baffled to learn about media blogger Romenesko’s (temporary?) dismissal from Poynter because of alleged plagiarism. I relied on his insight many times and his service to the media industry is invaluable. Here’s a thorough analysis of the case by Robert Niles of the Online Journalism Review: 

“Romenesko found a new way of communicating attribution that renders old “rules” about attribution irrelevant. Journalism leadership that focuses on the ends our ethics are supposed to guide us toward would have recognized that. Leadership that focuses on rules for rules’ sake, wouldn’t have. And didn’t. It’s clear from this episode that something does need to change at Poynter. But it wasn’t Jim Romenesko.”

You can continue reading Romenesko’s media analyses on his website.

Reminiscing: Internet 1996 vs. 2011 Where were you?

Quickshots: August

Check out these stunning minimalistic web pages (via Speckyboy). I really believe “less is more” in web design. The content will stand out.

Finally, it’s about content, not just clicks! “We’re on the cusp of a complete overhaul of the way in which we interact with online content.” (A List Apart, “Orbital Content“) “Bookmarklet apps like InstapaperSvpply, and Readability are pointing us toward a future in which content is no longer entrenched in websites, but floats in orbit around users. This transformation of our relationship with content will force us to rethink existing reputation, distribution, and monetization models — and all for the better.”

Oh, those pesky passwords… “Hard for humans to remember, but easy for computers to guess.” (click here to enlarge image)