Monday, April 30, 2012

To Mobile or Not to Mobile? Part 2

Image from whatsyourdigitaliq.com
So let's pick up where we left off last time, looking at what's involved in either creating a separate mobile website or redesigning your site to be mobile-friendly or optimized for mobile.

Separate Mobile Site

One of the reasons a separate mobile site can be problematic is that most non-mobile optimized sites have a lot of content. When you have a lot of space, you tend to use it and mobile sites have to be streamlined. Trying to decide what to leave out and what to include can be difficult since you are just guessing what parts of your site content are the ones your mobile users are looking for. Pew and Online Research recent studies state that 25% of people in the U.S. using their smartphone to browse the web are rarely using any other device for web access. What do you want to show them? In addition, there may be feature phone users who access your site, though the experience is probably not a great one. Should you include them in your planning? Maybe, especially if you're not based in the U.S., where smartphone usage is somewhat higher.

Another problem is, how do you deal with mobile users who come to your regular site and must be re-directed to the mobile site? There are no hard and fast ways of separating the smart phone users from the tablets, desktops, and laptops, so what criteria do you use to define a user coming into your site as a mobile user and then how would you redirect them?

Then there's the maintenance issue - two sites to maintain are twice the fun and twice the expense.

If a separate mobile site is not the answer, then is changing your website and making the design more responsive to smartphones better?

Redesigning Your Site for Mobile

Mobile-friendly or mobile-optimized? Simply put, a mobile-friendly site is one that can be seen and used on mobiles, though the experience may not be great (Apple's site is mobile-friendly). A mobile-optimized site has been designed so that it transforms to fit the screen space (YouTube's website does this). Another thing to consider with mobile-friendly versus optimized is that if your site uses Flash for diagrams or other visuals, you'd probably have to get rid of it in order to make your site mobile-friendly or at least have it converted to HTML.

So again, you have to ask yourself if a stripped-down, mobile-friendly site is good enough and whether your mobile audience is large enough to justify the changes to your regular website to accommodate them.

Obviously, if you're already considering re-designing your site, you're in a good position to include mobile optimization, especially if you're planning to use HTML5, which may be easier for developers when targeting multiple devices. But if you aren't planning a re-design, having one forced on you by the marketplace can be difficult. Especially for a small non-profit.

Gobbledegook

For many of you, this post is full of stuff you don't know much about and probably don't want to. How do you take this all in and decide what you should do? We'll talk about that in Part 3.


Related Links:

Google/Ipsos Release Mobile...Statistics
GoMo: Go Mobile by Google
Infographic: Great Trends in Mobile
Internet on the Move: Why Mobile Matters
Mobile Apps for Development
Why We Shouldn't Make Separate Mobile Websites
Why your site should be "Mobile Friendly" or "Mobile Optimized"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Facebook Profile Image Change

Facebook is changing the size of profile pictures from 120x120 to 160x160 pixels. If you incorporate your profile pic as part of your Timeline Cover photo, this can affect your layout:

Image via digitalwizdom
This guy's head might be placed differently at 160px and look a leeettle strange...

If your profile pic and timeline cover aren't integrated, then don't worry about it.

That is all.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Continuing Saga of: "To Mobile or Not to Mobile" Pt. 1

image via what's your digital IQ
Adoption of Smart Phones is rapid. People in my age group are probably some of the last hold-outs, but most of us will likely adopt them, because it will make sense. If I didn't work from home, I imagine I would already have one.

So is it time for your small nonprofit to get a mobile website? I'm afraid that - for me - the answer is once again yes and no.


Smart Phone Adoption Data

A year and a half ago, I read that smart phone adoption had increased by 17% and was expected to explode. According to this study by Google and Ipsos*, what I read was right.
Consumers are clearly shifting from feature phones to smartphones. Smartphone penetration reached 45% in the UK, 38% in the US and France, 23% in Germany and 17% in Japan.
And according to this study:
Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones for Internet access. Germany saw the biggest increase with the percentage of smartphone owners using their device for daily Internet access jumping from 39% to 49%, while Japan had the highest percentage accessing the Internet daily on their smartphone at 88%.  A little over two-thirds of smartphone users in the US and over half of smartphone users in the UK access the mobile Internet daily.
This means that it's likelier than ever that people will be checking out your website from a smartphone.

Based on that information alone, it would be a good idea to make sure that what they see is not this ==>

Bad for Mobile

All your information is there, but things may now display correctly and users will probably find it difficult to use. Since no one these days seems to be long on patience, you will probably lose them.

So what to do?

There are actually three ways you can go:
  • Get a separate mobile-friendly site
  • Redesign your site to make it mobile-optimized
  • Forget the whole thing and hope for the best
In next week's Part 2 post, we'll talk about these options and the technical can of worms involved in options 1 and 2.

Got an opinion or question on mobile sites? Leave a contribution in the comment box.

* Ipsos is a private 'think/tank marketing firm' and this info was released in support of mobile advertising. Draw your own conclusions, but it's likely not too far off the mark.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mining Newsletters for Fun and Nonprofit

Image from History of Pala Mining
If you're like me, you are getting a boatload of e-letters in your inbox. Half the time, I scan their headlines for anything that seems worthwhile, and if I don't see it - BANG - into the round file. I don't do this with everything, of course. Some groups have given me so much good content in the past, that even if the preview pane doesn't look promising, I'll still take a look. But for the most part, it's as I've said.

Headlines Count

Yeah, you might be thinking that's what I'm getting at, but you'd be wrong. Good headlines do count, of course, and it's always a struggle to come up with something that sounds inviting and still has something to do with the subject. Blog Headlines and What Bikini-Clad Women Think of Them. But I digress...

I maintain a blog on Wordpress as well as Blogger, and WP often sends me little notes about new themes or changes they've made to the way things work. So does MailChimp and I really like theirs - they're both informal and informative and they usually come with some kind of little incentive to take a look at something.

I always make time to read these and a few others.

Keeping Up With Your Partners

It's easy to lump these guys in with the LinkedIn updates you get titled, "Let's all follow each other's businesses on Twitter" and flush the notices the minute they appear or unsubscribe yourself. But don't.

There's often really good information to be mined from these e-newsletters. And not just learning about new offerings, either. A lot of times the way the information is presented can spark an idea about how to use the application or service or tool in a different way or even to just make you take a look from a different perspective.

For example, I'd never want to buy a mailing list because I wouldn't have any idea what I would be getting. But MailChimp is launching a new thing that allows mailers to check out what else some of their contacts might be subscribing to. Without revealing who the subscriber overlap consists of, so not violating anybody's privacy, you can see what else interests the people you mail to. This might help you form different strategies or approaches for your subscribers. If you want to, you can even contact the publishers of the other newsletters and initiate a conversation to find compatible interests.

MailChimp's New Service Is Just An Example

I'm not promoting it or making any money off mentioning it. I just think that it's cool that there is a different way of using the information that's already there. And I wouldn't have known about it if I hadn't taken the time to read the newsletter that MailChimp sent me.

Naturally, I'd be a chump, not a chimp, if I advocated reading every single thing sent to you. A lot of it is dreck and you'd be well-advised to keep your incoming mail as dreck-free as possible. But all newsletters are not created equal and the one that your small nonprofit sends out can definitely benefit by what you learn through others.