Over 2,600 professionals attended The Mobile Commerce World Conference held at The Palace Hotel in San Fransciso this June. The focus of the conference was enterprise strategies for driving mobile revenue, and the agenda sported impressive industry experts scheduled to discuss a vast spectrum of mobile related topics. Punchkick’s Director of Mobile Strategy, Joseph Drambarean, was invited to speak on ‘Marketers’ Mobile Strategy and Practices: Innovations and Lessons.’
The panel consisted of thought leaders from across the mobile marketing space — including Jeremy Schneider, a partner at Mckinsey and Company, and moderated by Harry Wang, Director of Health & Mobile Product Research at Parks Associates.
The discussion kicked off a three part series concentrating on mobile innovation. The experts covered a variety of pressing topics marketers face in mobile today, and of all the sessions at MCW this was the only one framed to take the marketers point of view. Some of the discussion highlights included:
- Choosing the right mobile tactics
- Best practices in identifying your target mobile audience
- The future of mobile and big data aggregation
- How analytics impact mobile marketing decisions
- Mobile media targeting
- Adopting a mobile first approach
Audience members were invited to participate throughout the panel discussion. Some of the more interactive discussions touched on:
- The appropriate use of stopgap solutions, like Titanium, PhoneGap, Kony, etc., when considering the scope of a mobile deployment only makes sense for a limited range of engagements. A prominent example of stopgap misuse is when approaching complex native applications that require the use of hardware specific APIs to function smoothly. Joseph explained that, from a design perspective, write-once-deploy-all solutions primarily take the lowest common denominator design, which makes end UI clunky and cumbersome across higher-end devices.
- The right use of native applications when considering the rise of mobile web. The panel reviewed the importance of audience targeting and how native allows marketers to build valuable conversations with their audience through the use of push notification strategies. Native should also be considered when rich media content cannot be implemented in a smooth way through mobile web.
- The importance of staying ahead of the curve in mobile web, considering the fast evolution of mobile browsers and operating systems, was clear. Joseph noted that maintaining a constant budget for quality assurance testing against the latest beta software SDKs is critical, especially when marrying analysis of technology changes with production in the development pipeline.
- The panel also discussed what will define the mobile era — emphasizing the importance of platforms and the tendency of mobile users to gravitate towards platforms where they invest actual dollars in content. Illustrations were drawn around Amazon Cloud, Apple iTunes, Google Play, and the growing importance of sourcing quality apps and media for long term platform viability on mobile.
Just two short weeks after iOS 7 beta 2 was released, Apple put out another set of improvements to iOS 7 with beta 3. Our team of iOS developers explored the new beta, and noted that the iPhone version is more stable than before, while the iPad version is still noticeably buggy–but making progress. Other first impressions include improvements on text legibility. The systemwide font changed from Helvetica Neue Light to Helvetica Neue, which to some is only cosmetic, but to others makes iOS 7 more usable and efficient.
There are a lot of little tweaks across the system, and iClarified has put together an extensive list of what’s new in beta 3 complete with images to document the changes. Below are a few notable modifications from the list:
Microinteractions may sound small, but in actuality make a huge difference in user experience. Dan Saffer, author of the book ‘Microinteractions,’ describes them as “a product use case boiled down to a single moment, focused on a single task,” and these minute moments of interaction ultimately form a lasting impression of any type of object.
At Punchkick, where mobile devices are our main channel of communication, our strategists, designers, and developers consider user experience paramount. At all points in our process for creating mobile web sites and apps these microinteractions, the way a user is going to see, feel, and perceive their device and what’s on it, is of primary concern.
Below is an infographic by Smart Design, that outlines the what/why/how of microinteractions:
Fast Company’s article that further explores the idea of microinteractions — The Future Of UX Design: Tiny, Humanizing Details.
Whether you are a developer already knowledgable in programming languages, or a tech enthusiast looking to broaden your understanding of coding, Punchkick has put together a quick resource for everyone interested in the top five languages used for programming mobile native and web applications. For those of us that don’t speak geek, we’ve included a glossary of some commonly used terms.
1. Java: Java is the “default” and recommended language for Android development. It’s an object-oriented* language very similar in style and syntax to C/C++, making it easy to learn when coming from those languages. A convenient feature that Java uses is automatic garbage collection, which means programmers don’t have to manually deallocate memory and makes development easier. Also, Java code is “write once, run anywhere”, so code written in Java can be run on any platform that has a supported JVM (Java Virtual Machine). This is achieved by compiling Java code into “bytecode” that gets run on the JVM regardless of the JVM’s underlying platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, etc).
Android runs a different type of virtual machine called Dalvik, which is optimized for embedded mobile devices. Dalvik is not a JVM, and it won’t run standard Java bytecode. Rather, Android code must be further converted from standard Java bytecode into Dalvik compatible .dex files. Android’s SDK* includes a tool called “dx” that performs this conversion.
2. Objective-C: Objective-C is the “default” and recommended language for iOS and, like Java, is object-oriented. There are a variety of defining features in Objective-C. Categories, for example, allow the adding of new methods to existing classes provided by Apple. Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) memory management is handled by calls inserted by the compiler as opposed to having the overhead of garbage collection. Objective-C is known for long and expressive names for methods and variables; this is called expressive syntax and allows for clearer code. Strict superset of C means that any code that can be compiled in C, can also be compiled in Objective-C, which provides great flexibility for leveraging existing libraries*.
3. C#: C# is the “default” and recommended language for Windows Phone 7/8/Surface and is a completely Object-Oriented language. If coming from a background in classical languages (C, C99), it’s very easy to pick up this language, compared to Java or Objective-C. In C#, a deep understanding of the language is not necessary in order to prototype something basic that is both functional and appealing. This language has a very strong community behind it, so information and code snippets are readily available for Windows Phone 7/8/Surface platforms. There’s also a large open source* community behind the language. C# has been around for a long time and gets a lot of TLC from Microsoft, who cares and listens to it’s developer community.
Visual Studio and Blend are excellent tools for developing and designing mobile apps. With no experience with VS, one can jump right in and start creating something. Unlike Xcode, Visual Studio has an actual emulator* rather than a simulator* for testing and running the applications (through HyperV), so one can be fairly confident that what is seen in the emulator is what is going to be experienced on actual hardware.
An interesting aspect of PHP is how far it’s come in the last few years. New language features are constantly being added, making it a more fun, interesting, and efficient language to develop in. Additionally, the larger community of PHP developers, particularly around Zend Framework and the Symfony framework, provide a true wealth of information and knowledge on what can be done with PHP today.
*Glossary of terms:
Object-Oriented Programming: Refers to a method of grouping similar functionality and using those objects in an objective way, rather than working with procedural code (one line of code after another with no grouping). By using object-oriented programming, we can group data and data access methods together easily so, if we want to use them or expand upon them, we can find them in the same spot, rather than all over the place.
SDK: A Software Development Kit is a collection of tools that developers use to help them work with a certain language, platform, or device. Examples of this would be XCode and Visual Studio. Generally, SDK’s have a built in editor for editing code and connections to work with simulators/emulators/
Library: A library is a useful piece of code that operates independently of the applications it can be used in. It is a smaller component that can be used across multiple applications with no adaptation. Examples would be jQuery, ExtJS, and ASIHTTPRequest. You use this code in your application, but you never modify it.
Open Source: An open source application is an application whose source code is publicly available for reviewing, distribution, and editing – depending upon the license. It’s a way of giving back to the community, allowing others to contribute to the project, make it better, find issues, and make the application more secure.
Emulator: An emulator is a piece of software that emulates the functionality of another device. Running something on a emulator is like running something on an actual device (such as an Windows Phone). What you see on the emulator is what you’re going to see on the actual hardware device. Visual Studio uses an emulator for debugging.
Simulator: A simulator is a piece of software that simulates the functionality of another device. It’s similar to an emulator, but different in that you aren’t emulating the hardware the software is running on as well. A simulator will give you a similar experience as one you’d see on a hardware device, but there might be some major differences (running on a different CPU than the hardware would, for example). XCode uses a simulator for debugging.
API: An Application Programming Interface allows developers to interface with another application to get information that the API service provides. Google Maps is a great example of this. They offer an API that allows developers to get information about maps and directions, so instead of having to solve that problem themselves, they can ask Google Maps to solve it. An API provides information in an easily manipulable way which a developer can use to interface with their application. The difference between and API and a Library is that a library is an internal tool which the developer uses and includes in his code, whereas an API is an external tool the developer uses to get information. Google Maps, Bing Maps, WordNik, and Weather.com all provide APIs.
Functional Programming: Functional programming is a programming paradigm that treats computation as the evaluation of math functions and avoids states and changing data. Functional programming emphasizes the use of functions to solve problems (these functions don’t change). Think lamda calculus, if you’ve ever taken it. If not, think Fibonacci sequence.
Great design inspires us, helps get the creative juices flowing, and simply, it’s just fun to look at or engage with. While scouring the web to find examples of different mobile navigation patterns, we came across these five collections of curated mobile elements. Inspiration abounds in these websites, showcasing some of the best designed iOS and Android apps with their UI implementations.
With a myriad of screenshots from a wide range of apps, pttrns is a great resource with over 1,200 design patterns organized into 38 categories. There is a lot to see here, so pttrns has a convenient on-mouseover zoom to easily highlight the details. pttrns focuses on iOS apps, but there’s a lot of inspiration to be had for Android and mobile web developers as well.
2. Inspired UI
Inspired UI is chock-full of different iOS design patterns. The site has frequent updates and showcases some truly beautiful apps. Patterns can be viewed by one of the 27 categories, such as ‘Logins’ and ‘Splashscreens’.
3. lovely ui
The lovely ui blog is curated by interactive designer Diana Frurip. It’s regularly updated with screenshots of well executed UI elements from iPhone, iPad, and Android apps. Images are tagged to make sorting by type easier. The consistent and frequent updates make this blog shine by always keeping the content fresh and well, lovely.
4. Mobile Patterns
Mobile Patterns is very straightforward in its quest to present design patterns in an easy-to-digest way. The patterns can be organized by category, as well as by mobile OS. A particularly useful thing about this feature is that the OS filter remains in effect even after a category has been changed, so users can look at exclusively iOS, or exclusively Android apps.
androidUX.com is the only one on this list to, you guessed it, focus solely on Android design patterns. The site speaks to both native features, such as launchers and home screens, as well as apps from the Google Play Store.
Bonus. UI Parade
UI Parade is not specific to mobile, but there are so many cool things showcased here we felt it needed to be mentioned. Beautiful pictures of UI elements fill each page, many of which can be downloaded free of charge.
Punchkick Interactive’s work with Harley-Davidson on the H-D1 Bike Builder: 1200 Custom Tablet App was chosen as one of the five finalists in the App Category at the 2012 Pixel Awards–and it went on to win the Pixel Awards People’s Champ Award for Apps. Kudos to everyone who helped bring this project to life!
The late Steve Jobs will forever be known for his innovative impact on technology and design. His vision was the foundation of Apple’s notable design philosophy, which has put Apple products among the world’s most recognizable.
Our friends at OnlineMBA.com shared with us this awesome video that outlines 5 Rules for Designing Like Apple:
This year Marriott won the prestigious ERE Recruiting Excellence Award for best employer brand, which speaks to its continued focus on employees.
Check out this recent article that mentions the mobile recruitment site that Marriott partnered with Punchkick to develop: http://www.ere.net/2012/12/13/marriotts-careers-pages-get-makeover-with-where-i-belong-theme/
With the ever-growing number of daily mobile users, companies are looking to attract potential talent with mobile career sites. Microsoft has proven itself as an industry leader in mobile recruiting with the launch of m.microsoft-careers.com in March, a site it teamed up with Punchkick Interactive to execute. Microsoft’s vision was to provide a compelling and highly-engaging way of discovering jobs at blazing fast speed. Both companies are excited as the metrics show dramatic increases in KPIs across the board.
If you haven’t noticed yet within your apps, the login screen for Facebook Connect has updated to feel more “iPhone friendly,” and Facebook has dropped this idea of “connecting” as a result.
Additionally, there are many cues in the new UX which assume an experienced Facebook user, which seems like a shift in Facebook’s approach for their API.
Notable changes include:
- Removed all “Connect” language in favor of “Login”
- Simplifies language overall, which assumes experienced user
- Title “Connect to Facebook to “Facebook Login”
- Removed description of what Facebook Connect is for
- Remove visual cue that helps users understand the purpose of the screen
- Removed Facebook terms/conditions fine print
- Removed “Cancel” button
- Asks for either your email or your phone number
- Increases size of user input fields