Do you spend the majority of your time surfing the Internet
on a tablet, computer, or mobile device? When you visit your favorite website
on each of these gadgets does it look the same to you?
Many businesses are rethinking traditional
website design featuring a static homepage in favor of more modern websites
with a responsive homepage. What does the mean? This means that one website
works on all gadgets. Responsive website design is a logical next step in this mobile-crazed
world. Here is a quick breakdown of website types for the beginner:
[Traditional Website] If your favorite website
appears on your iPhone Internet browser as a mini-version of the way it views
on your computer, then the business has a traditional website.
[Mobile Optimized Website] If the website appears
similar to the way it appears on your computer but in a more visually appealing
and organized manor, most likely the business has optimized their original
website to appear more user-friendly on mobile devices.
[Responsive Website Design (RWD)] If the website
appears eerily similar yet slightly different on each device you surf the
Internet on, then the website is most likely built with responsive design. Good
Examples: Culver’s, Starbucks, Grey Goose.*
The easiest way to test a website to see if it is a
responsive design is to grab the bottom right hand corner of the web browser
and slowly and steadily drag it to the left. Responsive design is built with
fluid grids allowing the website to respond quickly to the size the user makes
the browser window. Thus, appearing on all devices in the most user-friendly
and eye-catching manor. Responsive design adapts design to device and ultimately
enhances the user experience.
Additional benefits of responsive
design include allowing for a single source of content resulting in less
development costs and less maintenance as well as the convenience of building
the website one time and having it work with a consumer’s mobile phone, tablet,
and computer. Are you interested in exploring the world of responsive design?
Contact us today!
some of our staff’s favorite responsive web designs, but these sites were not
created by us.
Can you remember a day when you were not reliant on your smartphone? How many times a day do you pull your iPhone out of your pocket just to check the time? And, fancy timepieces are not the only technology to be taken over by Android phones and tablets. These days more and more people are giving up desktop computers and laptops to manage email, read books, and surf the web on the more portable and the more affordable technology such as smartphones and tablets.
Needless to say, this phenomenon is making mobile an extremely important part of your digital marketing strategy. Your business needs to have a mobile presence of some kind or another beyond your traditional website. If you are not already integrating mobile into your marketing plan and budget, the perfect time to start is now!
The top two ways to integrate mobile seamlessly into your digital marketing strategy is to create a custom mobile app for your business as well as to make sure your website is optimized for mobile. Once you have these two mobile pieces in place, you can branch out into the overwhelming territory of mobile advertising (more on that in another post).
Developing a custom mobile application to promote your business does not have to be an expensive undertaking. With the powerful advancements in mobile technology and design over the past few years, there are many efficient and affordable options to get the job done. Take for example MojoBistro, which allows restaurant owners to build custom iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone apps for their business at an extremely affordable rate and at the same time loaded with interactive features. Or you can partner with a web development company such as KeyLimeTie to develop a completely unique mobile application for your business.
It is important to think outside of the box when you are developing a mobile app for your company. There are millions of apps in the various app stores so your app will need to standout. Start by brainstorming what makes your business unique. What can you add to your app to give your end user a perk that will entice them to keep your mobile app on their phone for more than a hot minute?
For instance, KeyLimeTie created an app for the Naperville Running Company that includes a pace calculator. So the app functions as more than just a marketing component for the business, it also has added benefit for the customer or end user. Plus, adding a value component to your mobile app will increase customer engagement and the likelihood users will keep your app prominently on their smartphones. In the case of the Naperville Running Company mobile apps, the user is able to utilize the app on their daily runs thus giving them a perk and reminding them about the brand—keeping the running shop top of mind.
The second step to integrating mobile into your marketing strategy is to make sure your company’s website is optimized for viewing on a smartphone or tablet. If you have not touched your website in years then most likely it is not optimized for mobile. Pull your website up on your iPhone and check it out.
Need to revamp your website for mobile and possibly discuss a mobile app, then contact KeyLimeTie today!
Is your company considering creating a web or mobile application? Whether you’re in the beginning or end stage of the mobile development process, with the proper outreach, you’re poised to connect with mobile and smartphone users across the US and internationally. More and more, customers are looking for solutions to daily challenges that your business may be able to fulfill.
In this article, we’re going to untangle the debate on native v. web applications and consider how mobile advertising could affect your business. Also, we provide insight into why these two mobile options are essential in connecting with your mobile consumers using recent analyses.
What’s the difference?
There are several major differences between native and web applications.
The most significant difference is that web applications are like mobile websites, whereas native applications have to be downloaded on the phone. Downloadable native applications often have a more rich user experience, may be slightly quicker, doesn’t always require cellular coverage, and may offer more multimedia content.
Smartphone penetration now represents between 30-50% of mobile users depending on country (currently around 35% in the USA). There are 100MM smartphone users
in the United States alone, with around 1.1 billion of the 5 billion mobile phones being smartphones. Of those users, 9 of 10 use their phone on a daily basis.
According to TechCrunch
, “as mobile phone useage increases and smartphone adoption grows, more and more consumers are using their mobile for functions other than phone calls.” This shows, as application downloads continues to increase, now at around 49% of subscribers downloading applications, and 48.5 using browsers. That’s a lot of opportunity to connect with your target audience where they’re interested in learning more about your product or service!
Are other companies investing in mobile?
Increasingly, companies across the spectrum are starting to consider mobile as part of their marketing strategy. Mobile ad spending has increased significantly since 2007, and is projected to continue to nearly double year on year. In 2012, mobile-ad spend (including banner, rich media and video) is projected to grow 80% to $2.61 billion. This is because as eMarketer
notes, “as mobile devices become a remote control for our lives… the more they’re being used for search, to browse the web and use applications and the more that drives up impressions and overall activity.”
For CIOs, mobile technology and consumerization are an important focus. In a 2012 study by Atenna, 43% of companies are currently working on a mobile app for their customers, 42% for their employees and 32% are currently working on hybrid web-apps for their customers (28% for their employees). However, in that same study
, research showed only 45% of businesses have mobile compatible websites for their customers.
What’s the debate about?
In another 2012 report
on Native v. Web Applications by Global Intelligence, which found that each had their own advantages. Overall, however, as the Nielsen report also shows, publishers see higher user adoption and usage volume on native applications versus web applications. Web apps are more likely to be developed in-house, and take longer to create.
On the other hand, Forrester in 2011
notes that mobile applications—native or web—are not going anywhere. “As mobile useage increases worldwide, both side of the equation will grow with it and become valuable aspects of product roadmaps,” according to ReadWriteWeb.
Whether your company is considering a mobile or native application, you’re taking the first step in the important transition to creating mobile opportunities.
As a leader in mobile and web application development, we’d be simply tickled to answer any of your questions on developing your own custom application. We want to get to know your needs! To get in touch with us directly, contact our CEO & co-Founder Chris Pautsch at email@example.com
Author: Erica Grigg is Director of Marketing at KeyLimeTie. With nearly a decade experience using traditional and digital tools for marketing, Erica is constantly exploring the mobile and social landscape for KeyLimeTie. Prior, Erica came from an agency background where she was Partner and Director of Marketing & Digital for clients like the UN and WWF. Erica has presented extensively on digital marketing, and co-authored a book on Facebook marketing.
It's a debate that's raged since the first smartphones hit the market: should you develop native mobile applications, or web sites that are optimized for mobile devices? The answer seems as elusive as ever. The fact that we're still having the debate is itself something of an answer though; both are viable solutions.
The debate is so often framed in either-or terms, however there's no reason you can't do both. If you expect that you have customers who will download a mobile app, then you also have customers who will find your web site on a mobile browser. A mobile-optimized web site is increasingly important for most businesses, and should be a starting point for anyone asking the question to begin with.
Ask the Right Question
But the real question, from a technology perspective, is how to expose more sophisticated functionality to your mobile customers. Native apps will usually be more fluid, be able to access all of the features of the device, will conform to the experience the user expects for their specific device, and will usually perform better than web sites. They will also usually cost more to develop and will be limited to just those devices on the selected platform (iOS, Android, etc.)
A web-based application, on the other hand, will run on any smartphone (more or less). But, you won't get access to all of the hardware features of the device, and the interface will not look like the native apps that it will run alongside. Another downfall that's often overlooked is that it is harder for potential users to discover web applications, as compared to browsing a centralized app store. On the flip side, there are a lot more developers out there who can work with web technologies than with the native development environments, and they are often cheaper.
This is just touching the surface, and there are no hard and fast rules. It might seem, for instance, that gaming is best done as a native app - and this is undoubtedly true for games that rely on high-framerate 3D graphics. But games that are suitable for Flash or HTML5 may work very well as a mobile web app. So spend some time up front, and ask some questions.
- What technologies are feasible?
- What are your potential users' expectations?
- How critical is performance?
- How will you market and distribute the app?
Every project is unique, so don't let anyone tell you there is only one answer. Your project will drive the answer that's right for you.
Interested in your own mobile app?
If you are interested in developing an app, or extending an app you already have to multiple platforms to reach a wider range of users, contact KeyLimeTie at 630.598.9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumers are showing increased interest in Windows Phone 7 devices, known for their fresh, intuitive user interfaces with a clean design. Microsoft is well poised as a contender in the smartphone market dominated by Apple and Google. At KeyLimeTie, we're seeing growing interest from clients as well, and are engaged in several projects to take existing iOS and Android apps and build WP7 versions of them.
Analysts have projected that WP7 could overtake the iPhone's marketshare as early as 2015. Today the WP7 app marketplace is still in its infancy, so getting an app in the Marketplace now allows for more visibility, and there's really an opportunity for the best apps to ride the platform to success as it grows. Microsoft is even offering co-marketing opportunities to promote popular or name brand apps. With the "Mango" update expected in the fall, "WP7's capabilities will be on par with iOS and Android," says Peter Morano, CIO at KeyLimeTie.
Another advantage of Windows Phone is the rich developer tools Microsoft provides; these tools allow for rapid development of WP7 apps, which means these apps can cost significantly less to develop than their iOS and Android counterparts. Microsoft invited KeyLimeTie COO Brian Pautsch (@brianpautsch) and CIO Peter Morano (@petermorano) to attend an intensive, week-long Windows Phone development accelerator where Microsoft made their WP7 developer trainers available to assist with projects, with the aim of releasing apps to the store that week. With Microsoft pushing development on the platform aggressively, KeyLimeTie is seeing more opportunity to reach customers on this intuitive platform that is a natural extension of the team's .NET development capabilities.
Need Windows Phone Development?
If you are interested in your own Windows Phone app, please contact KeyLimeTie at 630.598.9000 or email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @KeyLimeTie.
Chris Grove, CTO
KeyLimeTie CTO Chris Grove served as a panelist this past month at the Mobile Visionary Roundtable for the Illinois Technology Association. The roundtable focused on "cross-platform" app development, or developing apps for multiple operating systems including iPhone, Android, Windows, BlackBerry and others.
In today's mobile ecosystem, developers have the option of developiong either "natively," (in the specific development environment and language for the corresponding poatform), or using a cross-platform development environment where the app is written in a single codebase and compiled for each target operating system. Both have their advantages, and the choice comes down to how suited the type of app being developed is for each. Cross-platform environments are best suited for simple apps and apps that have an entirely customized user interface and do not rely on the phone's built-in user interface components. Conversely, apps that use deeper features of the phones/OSes might require coding in the native environment.
Another possibility when considering developing for cross-platform use is to create a native app or a mobile website. This decision comes down to use case. It's worth noting that native apps are six times more popular on the iPhone than mobile websites, but less popular on tablets, according to this ReadWriteWeb article.
The bottom line here is that mobile sites have different use cases than native apps. Apps are stronger when it's necessary to use native features of the phone (such as the camera, location services, accelerometer, or light), where websites shine when it's more important that the user find the information they need quickly and efficiently.
Finally, with cross-platform development, there's always the added cost of additional project management. "The more platforms an app will support," adds Grove, "the more groundwork you have to lay, and the more emphasis you have to put on quality assurance." Each additional platform adds a level of complexity; user interfaces are different, some devices have physical buttons where others have touch screens, and some have standard navigation elements.
Interested in your own mobile app?
If you are interested in developing an app, or extending an app you already have to multiple platforms to reach a wider range of users, contact KeyLimeTie at 630.598.9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a Senior Software Developer at KeyLimeTie, my day-to-day work requires me to focus on some very technical issues. A typical day may include creating a REST web service, optimizing software for thread-safety and performance, or even critiquing open-source frameworks. Although these technical challenges are satisfying, I never really need to tap into my right-brain skills which include extensive graphic arts and music experience.
In my free time I enjoy merging these technical and artistic sides and my latest project is the iPhone game I’ve branded as "Twisted Maestro." This easy to learn game presents a player with a piano-like device used for testing finger dexterity and visual acuity.
When deciding how to model the gameplay of Twisted Maestro, I first had to acknowledge that I don’t fall into the target demographic of many of today’s popular games. I frequented video arcades during the early 80’s, but over time I’ve very much drifted away from being a gamer. I evaluated recent games and found those which require unusual dexterity and movements were not very satisfying for me. So I consciously decided to take the Zen approach of "Beginner’s Mind" and disregard any presuppositions I may have about the latest gaming trends. I wanted to make a game that was attractive for its simplicity, one that was visually stunning and was appealing for its difficulty and physical challenge.
Twisted Maestro early concept wireframes.
Typically, the UX and navigation patterns of handheld games don’t follow the same guidelines as a professional business app would, designers take liberties to do whatever they can to create unique interfaces. Contrary to this trend, I wanted to follow the Apple Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) as much as I could without sacrificing creative design. For example, since the upper left corner is the sacred location for the Back button of navigation, this is where I placed the Audition button which leads back towards the keyboard home screen for performing an audition.
Another aspect I thought to be important was to target the physical needs of as many people as I could. When performing an audition on Twisted Maestro, knowing the amount of time remaining is important to get the best performance. Recognizing that the majority of the population is right-handed, I placed the time indicator where it would be least obstructed for viewing by a right-handed player. A physical limitation I also wanted to address was that of color-blindness. Original prototypes arbitrarily used green and red for gameplay indicators, but I later changed these in order to respect players with red-green color-blindness, the most common case, and give them a better experience.
Realistic-looking, oversized keyboard.
I wanted the overall graphic design of the game to be realistic and seem like you could actually be holding the auditioning device. I tested different sizes for the buttons and found that using a larger button gave the perception of a larger, more realistic device. Also contributing toward this realism are very high-resolution graphics, textures with intentionally aged effects, as well as keyboard audio recorded in a professional studio.
The difficulty of each level and the scoring algorithm were not easy to determine and took many iterations to get correct. In order to find proper values, I gained feedback from a wide array of testers ranging from preschoolers to teenagers to senior citizens. I needed the game to be rewarding for younger and less nimble players, but also be appropriately difficult for the more advanced gamers. I find the ultimate compliment to be when a player wants to play the game “just one more time”.
Creating the Twisted Maestro game proved to be very challenging in many ways. I spent most of my development time in two areas - fine-tuning the gameplay and scoring algorithms, and refining graphics to give the perception of realism. The final game has been getting great reviews worldwide and I owe its success to the many testers who contributed their honest feedback during development iterations.
I enjoy my role here at KeyLimeTie and I certainly don’t strive to be a professional game developer, but this personal experience has been extremely rewarding and I’m anxious to leverage what I've learned for a KeyLimeTie customer project.
Download Twisted Maestro on the App Store
Twisted Maestro is compatible with iPhone, iTouch, and iPad
Visit www.twistedmaestro.com or download from the App Store.
Interested in Your Own Mobile App?
If you are interested in putting the skills of developers like Patrick to use developing a mobile app for your company, please contact KeyLimeTie at 630.598.9000 or email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @KeyLimeTie.
QR Codes on Best Buy price tags.
QR Codes are becoming more and more visible in the world around us. For example, Best Buy now features them on all of their price tags, linking the physical product to the product's page on their mobile website. Scan the tag and you can view product specs, pricing information, compare with other products or share with friends.
Links to mobile product pages via QR Codes aid your customer's decision-making process. Savvy consumers want more information at their fingertips so they can make an educated buying decision. Offering a mobile product page could mean the difference between someone leaving your store and comparing elsewhere, or purchasing the item then and there.
Note that mobile web pages prioritize information differently than desktop webpages. Mobile web users have shorter attention spans as they seek information while on the go. Mobile screens are tiny, making traditional three-column desktop web designs cumbersome to browse and navigate. Connection speeds are slow and are occasionally interrupted, and the user has little control over their environment. Mobile users are most often focused on a single task and are not multitasking like they do on desktops or laptops.
A Best Buy mobile product page.
An awkward Comparison screen.
How Best Buy Can Improve
Best Buy tries to get the mobile browsing experience right with product comparisons, but forces too many steps to make it practical. The Compare button takes you to a page displaying your product in one column opposite a column instructing you to search or browse for a product with which to compare. Browsing the site's hierarchy takes 4-5 clicks to approach a similar product, and the user can't be faulted for not knowing the proper search terms. Instead, the website should be intelligent enough to display similar products, allowing for a one-click selection to a competitive product. The lesson here? Help your users accomplish their goals quicker.
Making Your Mobile Web Pages Useful
Approach mobile web pages with the desire to only display the most relevant, timely information. Your users are looking for a specific outcome based upon the context of their visit. In the case of Best Buy, users are looking for product information, comparison data, or even to price compare on competitors' websites. Don't be afraid of the comparison, they're in your store and ready to buy. Facilitating competitive comparisons may be touchy, but by letting the customer be in control you're building loyalty and trust.
Tying QR Into Mobile Web
If context is king on the mobile web, you can control the context by driving visitors via a QR code. Place QR codes within specific offers and messages, and you set your customer's expectations from the start. Now you have a good idea of when and where the user will visit your page. Here are a few practical applications, with examples of how the code can be used:
Social Subscribe (Brand Loyalty)
Social Subscribe (Brand Loyalty)
Have a use for a mobile website or integrated QR codes?
If this article sparks your interest and you see a need for mobile landing pages and QR codes for your company, give us a call at 630.598.9000. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
PartsTown approached KeyLimeTie with a unique idea for a mobile app, and we were pleased to take the concept to reality. PartsTown sells restaurant parts. They stock tens of thousands of parts from hundreds of manufacturers, and turn orders around quickly so the restaurants they serve can get back to running full speed.
PartsTown chose to take the most popular feature on their website, "Find Equipment Manuals", and turn it into a mobile app. The web feature receives tens of thousands of hits monthly, and now anyone with an iPhone or Android phone can download over 15,000 parts diagrams and manuals for free, saving paper and getting repair professionals the information they need while in the field.
Restaurant equipment repair professionals deal with thousands of different pieces of equipment as they go throughout their jobs. When assigned to fix a broken unit, they'll need to look up the part, order a replacement and read the manual for how to fix it. It's impractical for repair professionals to carry with them all the manuals they need, and they can't always count on the restaurant to keep the manuals.
Rather than simply seeking to extend their brand with an app, the PartsTown Find Equipment Manuals app is truly useful to their their customers.
Download the iPhone version or Android version now.
Need an app for your company?
We're happy to discuss how you can use a mobile app to help boost your brand, increase productivity or shave cost. Give us a call at 630.598.9000, and make sure to follow KeyLimeTie on Twitter.
Last week, Google announced Voice Actions for Android, a robust set of voice commands that allow you to do anything from write a text message, begin navigating to a map location, retrieve directory listings or send an email. For the phone platform known for feature-richness, this is a leap forward for users.
Watch Google's video on Voice Actions:
How well does it work?
This third-party test drive praises the complexity of the appliation but notes it's still lacking in the field. The test of usefulness here is the speed and convenience to complete the desired (often routine) task. If it ends up taking less time to manually complete the task, or if you have to switch to manual to choose between search options, the practicality of the feature diminishes.
It's cool, but when will it catch on?
Google prides itself at releasing features the iPhone doesn't yet have. It's no surprise Voice Actions has more commands than Voice Control on the iPhone, a feature I use almost daily to place calls. Like the Android test drive link above, the iPhone feature has some humorous inaccuracies, however for dialing, voice activation is accurate for 80-90% of the people I call. However, just this weekend I get the sense voice commands haven't yet caught traction. The other day I was driving a car full of techies on the bleeding edge who chuckled when they heard me talking to my phone to make a call.
Have you used this feature on the Android phone yet? If so, tell us about it!
In an O'Reilly Radar report, mobile evangelist Jason Grigsby (@grigs) captures two mobile trends that might be surprising. Much unlike the desktop market, which has long been dominated by Windows with MacOS running a distant second, mobile devices are seeing increased fragmentation in operating systems. At the same time, web standards are bringing mobile web browsers closer together in similarity.
What does this mean to you?
Assuming you're either an enterprise IT manager, mobile marketer or small business owner looking at opportunities to communicate and connect via mobile, what does this mean for you? It will be increasingly difficult to reach a majority of your audience by building a native application (mobile app) for just one operating system. You'll have a much better time making content widely available if you embrace the mobile web. However, if you require an app for whatever reason, you'll be smart to target your platforms based on your most loyal and most profitable audience(s). There are smart ways to go about building apps and successes to be had if you give the process careful thought.
Just the Facts
Here are a few highlights from the article to give further detail. However, I encourage you to read the full article with many more facts and figures.
Grigsby compiled mobile OS stats since 2006, noting that "In 2006, two mobile operating systems controlled 81 percent of the market. This year there are 10 different smartphone operating systems". Further observations include the facts that:
- No single mobile OS has greater than 50% marketshare.
- Samsung will be releasing its own OS and HTC is considering producing its own. Grigsby cites reasons to take these OSes seriously based on the manufacturers' marketshare.
- Android OS has been fragmented across handset manufacturers as several have overlayed their own user interfaces (MotoBlur and Sense UI).
While operating systems diverge, the report continues to outline how the mobile web is converging on HTML5 and WebKit. The only mobile browser that won't support HTML5 and WebKit for now is Internet Explorer, though indications show that future versions of the mobile IE will also support it.
For complete analysis, read Jason Grigsby's article at O'Reilly Radar.
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