It’s no secret that prototyping mobile applications is hard. HTML5 doesn’t really provide a great facsimile for native apps—you just don’t get the responsiveness or layout that makes you want to develop native in the first place—and a lot of tools that are great for web functional prototypes, like our much beloved Axure RP, are not necessarily ideal for prototyping native mobile applications depending on the UI complexity. We, here at ThoughtMatrix, are huge fans of Axure which is not going to change anytime soon, but we do realize its limitations for certain types of applications.
We experienced quite the extraordinary turn of events this past week, though not entirely surprising to those up on industry trends. Simply put, LinkedIn—the company who just last year espoused how HTML5 client development was still extremely relevant—released a major new update to their application and without any forewarning quietly let it slip that they have moved from a hybrid application to an all native design.
I may be a bit of a creature of habit; I tend to do about three things when I use my smartphone—email, then over to Facebook and then maybe check stocks or an ESPN app to check scores, but that sadly feels like the extent of it. Oh, I’m sure I do other things here and there that make smartphone ownership great; I use maps when I’m lost, Yelp when I’m hungry, Google Voice for texting and Evernote. Yet, rarely do I go out of the way to read news and fun content on my phone because it usually requires a lot of slow loading, phone turning, pinching and zooming.
Responsive Design May Be Awesome, But It Isn’t a Web Design Panacea.
In our first article, we discussed the amazing flexibility that responsive design offers. But this flexibility comes with a price that might negatively affect your fastest-growing audiences – mobile and tablet users. While offering a flexible layout, responsive design requires the latest browsers, more code, and large images. In short, responsive layouts can be bandwidth hogs and resource-intensive to render. This affects users on the move, where bandwidth is the scarcest, and where processors lack the raw power of their desktop predecessors.
If you did, your company would put other web initiatives on hold and scramble to launch the best mobile experience for your industry.
With mobile smartphone use growing at such an astounding pace, I’m constantly amazed that there are still so many top-tier companies that do not have a dedicated mobile website experience. I believe that this rapid growth seems to be outpacing many IT and marketing executives’ ability to digest and grasp how mobile is going to drastically affect their business growth – particularly in the consumer space.
With mobile, the year 2012 will be a unique parallel to 1996-97, when many industry titans were caught with their pants down by the speed at which web use grew, and were unable to launch a compelling website faster than their competitors.
One of the most important factors in evaluating a website design is answering the question, “What is the average screen size my visitors will use to view my site?” Over the past few years, this evaluation process has become both more complex and more confusing due to the explosion of Internet-connected devices. Website access has shifted dramatically, and mobile/tablet browsing is expected to surpass desktop usage over the next two years.
At a recent TechWeek Chicago event, I presented the major technology trends that are changing how existing UX design processes are viewed and the new approaches companies can employ to stay ahead of these trends. Both “Lean UX” and the rapid growth of mobile browsing have contributed to our radical approach to reinventing teams and processes to meet the challenges of today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. This new approach is born out of two ideas circulating amongst the User Experience and App Development communities that moves away from traditional design processes to a more iterative and open approach and also considers developing for mobile users first as a means to focus the design.
For more detailed information on the forces driving rapid change in the UX Design field, watch the “What’s Next for UX” webinar that illustrates new approaches and presents practical methods to help design teams stay ahead of these trends. Watch the webinar now >
One of the most compelling ways to add interest to your website is to include relevant links to related content. This post outlines the best practices for writing meaningful link text inline with your main body copy.
How Much is a Dynamic Picture Worth?
The old saying goes “a picture tells a thousand words” — but today that saying may actually be an understatement. Consuming information through images, rather than the written word, has become increasingly popular. With the rise of the Internet, our demand for visual information has increased exponentially, but static pictures in a world filled with dynamic, real-time information are falling behind fast. Further, the latest technologies for browsing from desktops to mobile and even entertainment devices have ushered in a dramatic leap forward in digital interactivity.
I had the pleasure of speaking to the students at the Chicago Tech Academy (CTA) this past week about my career in design and preparing themselves for a future career in design or tech. The school was started two years ago with generous private sector funding from local organizations, including the Illinois Technology Association (ITA) and CompTIA along with support from businesses like Microsoft and Cisco. The goal of the school is to help prepare students for success in college and technology-rich careers through an immersion in the entrepreneurial and tech business communities. The program also includes a double helping of English and math courses and active community involvement from industry leaders in the form of internships and mentoring programs.