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Mobile First Approach & Strategy – What, Why, How, When?

Mobile First Approach & Strategy – What, Why, How, When?

 

Mobile First Strategy_Stats_New

Gone are the days when websites were developed for large screens of desktop computers or laptops. Today, everything has to be scaled down to fit smaller screens of mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

With Google’s mobile-friendly update for websites as released on April 21, 2015, it has now become apparent for every webmaster or blogger to apply a mobile-first strategy for website development.

Developers now focus on mobile-optimised websites that work great on mobile phones and tablets, and then scale up perfectly for larger computer or laptop screens.

Let’s take a look at what mobile first web-design means, and its importance for websites, and how to start development of mobile-friendly websites.

What Does Mobile-First Approach Mean?

The ‘mobile first’ strategy for website development involves designing an online experience first for mobile devices and then optimizing it for scaling up to desktop and laptop computers.

It does not mean designing a website that works well on desktop computers and then adjusting it to be compatible with mobile phones or tablets. The mobile-first process is to design online websites specifically for mobile customers, keeping their dynamic behaviour, context and needs in perspective.

The user interface should suit mobile devices with easily readable text and easy navigation to the different sections of the site.

Why Go Mobile-First?

The number of mobile users has increased manifold and easily outnumbers the number of people that access websites on PCs or laptops.

According to a ComScore report, mobile devices generate more than 60% of the online traffic to websites. This percentage keeps on increasing with every passing quarter, and that has fuelled the need for every business to have mobile-friendly websites.

Mobile First Strategy

Source: ComScore

So, if you haven’t optimised your website yet, you need to get their sites scaled up for the smaller screens.

Today, the majority of internet users access social media via tablets or mobile phones. So, a new website shared on any social media platform with friends and colleagues is more likely to be viewed first on the screens of mobile devices.

If the site is not mobile-friendly and users are unable to view it correctly the first time around, then, they are less likely to recheck the website from their desktop or laptop. It is, therefore, obvious that any new website or blog needs to be designed and developed with a mobile-first strategy.

Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites in 2015

Now, it has become even more important to develop mobile-optimised websites because of the mobile-first update (known as mobilegeddon) from Google (in April 2015).

As per the update, any mobile-friendly website or blog has a better chance of appearing higher in Google search results on mobile devices as compared to sites that are not mobile-optimized.

Another reason for websites to move to mobile-optimised versions is the ever-growing trend of online shoppers preferring to use apps for shopping. The amount of time that is saved (by shopping on the move) along with the money saved through discount deals on the apps of famous eCommerce players has ignited the need to go mobile with websites on an immediate basis.

Any new eCommerce merchant has to ensure that the developed website is first compatible with mobile devices as the majority of the target audience will be tablet and smartphone users.

This need was further emphasised when Amazon reported around 60% online sales from mobile devices during shopping season in 2014 (source: CNET ).

Useful Tips for Mobile-First Site Development

It is necessary to have a fluid and responsive design instead of an adaptive one. This will ensure the site layout fits accurately for varied screen sizes of different mobile phones and tablets.

Another important task is to focus only on the core features and content, as mobile sites need to be developed within limited real estate.

So, unlike the screen real estate available with larger monitors and displays, web designers need to rethink their strategy while designing a mobile website from scratch. Anything that is not absolutely necessary for the mobile users can be removed from the site design to save space.

The preferable approach is to focus solely on content (images, text, forms) initially, followed by site beautification through the addition of CSS elements. Later, the focus should be to provide add-on features using JavaScript.

This progressive enhancement approach from content to styling to the presentation will add immense value to the mobile website.

So have you adopted the mobile-first approach for your websites already? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Mobile Search Optimization – Google’s Move to Change the Game

Mobile Search Optimization – Google’s Move to Change the Game

Google’s search engine algorithms are important on many counts. While all web developers know the basic SEO strategies, businesses need to be aware of how Google wants them to behave.

Mostly, the trend is of businesses look at exploring White Hat SEO, or SEO through ethics that Google approves, in a better way. The latest Google update just reinforces Google’s dominance in the search engine market. The Google Penguin update, for instance, was aimed at filtering spammy content and ensuring that quality content rank higher. Now, we see that Google has introduced the Mobilegeddon update that is rewarding websites, which are mobile friendly.

In fact, there is one interesting point that I would want to mention here. As early as 2013, Google’s Matt Cutt had stated how the company will now penalize companies with slower page loading times.  Yes, Google’s plan to move in this direction was evident for some time now – it was not a matter of if but when.

What Does The Mobilegeddon Update Mean?

The Mobilegeddon update is aimed to reward businesses with sites that are mobile friendly, helping them get better rankings in search results and be featured more prominently.

The change, effective from April 21, means that you will have to design a mobile friendly site sooner than later if you want to stay in the competition. The update seems to be much more important than all Google updates till date, including Google Panda and Penguin. Those in the web developer world would know that when these two updates were introduced, the rankings of many websites changed drastically – many for the worse. Some of these sites never managed to recover. So, what does this mean if you’re a website owner?

A Mobile-Friendly Site… Is Your Site One?

A mobile friendly site has a responsive design, a dynamic service, and separate URLs. You can check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page. to know how mobile friendly your site is.  While not perfect, the test is an indicator of how mobile friendly Google thinks your site to be. While the parameters by Google aren’t available (Google never discloses their algorithm how they rank websites because that can lead to its misuse), but we can figure out some expected developments nonetheless. Here is a roundup of the changes you can expect from the update.

Expect each page to be assessed individually

It all probability, Google will access each page individually. This means that all your web pages need to be mobile friendly and not just one – most popular searches will probably feature mobile friendly only pages.  This also means that if your website has both mobile friendly pages and desktop only pages, expect only the former pages to be promoted. However, most websites are either mobile friendly or not, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Drop in rankings

This is obvious – if your website is not mobile friendly, expect it to drop significantly in search results.

Real-time operation

This is a big development. Google is expected to update in real time. This means that if you do not have a mobile site ready yet – don’t worry. When you’re ready with one, expect Google to pick it up and reorganize the search engine rankings accordingly. However, do note that Google’s web crawlers do need to index your page. This can take a few days or even weeks at times – so expect delays the first time when you have your mobile site ready.

Search Results On Mobiles

Did you notice how search results differ in your mobile? For one, check out the local search results in your smart phone – they’re bound to differ from the one in your desktop. This development was a result of the Google Hummingbird update and the Mobilegeddom update is just one step further.

Why Did Google Bring Out The Update?

While we might be interested more in the changes Google brings with the update, an important factor is why Google chose to go the mobile way now. The reasons are simple – mobile growth has been phenomenal in the last few years and more people access the internet from their smartphones than their PC’s. Translate this into the fact that Google aims to enhance user experience, and rewarding mobile friendly sites was a natural option.

The development means that users can browse quickly on their smartphones and access all features of the site. A simple example would be with sites that still have Flash (yes, there still are some of them out there, though the advantages of having a Flash site is next to none). Mobile devices cannot play Flash and people accessing the site would not have been able to view the website content properly. Now, that is going to change with Google gathering search results that create the right user experience for the mobile user.

Here is a chart to survive the Mobilegeddon update.

Mobile_Search

Have you been affected yet by the Mobilegeddon update?  How many of our readers do have a mobile friendly site? If not, when are you planning to have one? Or do you feel that you don’t need one, yet?

iOS 8 Vs. Android Lollipop: The Developers’ Perspective

iOS 8 Vs. Android Lollipop – Which one let’s you build better? Here is a quick head to head comparison of the features of both the platforms that developers need to take a look at.

There are more mobile users using the internet than those using fixed internet access lines today, and it comes as no surprise.  It’s no longer the question of whether you should have a mobile presence, but rather ‘when?’ Google’s Mobilegeddon update was important for web developers. For app developers, Apple’s introduction of Swift as a programming language was a wake-up call.

Mobile adoption is increasing with a Gartner report stating that users are increasingly satisfied with the current engagement rates. So, does it mean that you need to develop apps for both these OS? That’s one area that many entrepreneurs and developers ponder about. App entrepreneurs and developers are looking to develop apps on both Android and iOS, and are often asking the question, ‘Which one do we look at first’? Here is a quick head to head comparison of the features of both the platforms that developers need to take a look at.

iOS 8

What do you like about the iOS 8 – the new developer friendly features or a smoother performance? iOS 8 has the same design as its predecessor and comes with a number of extensions for developers. With iOS 8, Apple has finally moved away from its policies of not allowing third party extensions to communicate with its operating systems. So, which extensions have come in? Here is a look.

  • Today extensions

    Much like Windows phone’s Live Tiles, iOS users will be able to view information in the Today View from their Notification Center.

  • Action extensions

    These extensions allow you to translate the text displayed in another app. For instance, you can use Bing Translate to help you translate text in the Safari window.

  • Custom keyboards

    Much like Android’s Swiftkey or Swype, that’s developed by a third party app developer, Apple now allows third parties to create custom based keyboards for the iOS 8.

There are other extensions as well. Photo editing extensions allow users to edit photos, right after taking the picture with the phone, without the need to go to the third party app. Storage provider extensions allow users to select cloud services like Dropbox and OneDrive easily.

What makes iOS 8 Special?

We know that iOS 8 boasts of new features – but which ones are the best? There are a host of things that are new to iOS 8. One of them is Continuity, or the ability of Apple users to pick up their work from one Apple device to another Apple device – say you were writing on your Mac and then had to go out – your iPhone could help you finish off your task.  Introduction of Swift as a programming language brings in a whole new dimension to app developers. While there is a good learning curve of Swift, Apple promises faster and better app-making with Swift.  There are many other features that can be a developers’ paradise – from Family sharing to Health Kit and Home Kit.

Where does it fall short?

Don’t fall in for the iOS 8 as your ultimate choice for app development – there are a number of areas that Apple still needs to address.  For instance, Apple didn’t time the release of iOS 8 well, with bugs aplenty leading to missing features for users. Apple had to send in an immediate update to fix the issue.

Apple’s iOS8 isn’t open source like Google’s Android. While that can work to an advantage sometimes, it means that users and developers have to wait for Apple’s acceptance before bringing in something new.

What’s the future like?

The changes by Apple that allows third party app developers to integrate with Apple’s own services, is a positive one. While it opens a new world for developers, users are benefitted as well through increased choice. Apple is expected to work more towards making their OS more developer friendly, with app making becoming easier.

Google’s Android Lollipop

Google has recently unveiled the next Android platform – Android M. The move is a surprising one as Google is yet to fully roll out Android Lollipop for a number of devices. For developers and app publishers, the question often is to choose

Google has made quite a few changes to Lollipop and seems to bring significantly more to the table.

  • New & Vibrant Google’s Material Design

    Lollipop sports a new design, and unlike iOS 8, which is similar in UI to iOS 7, has over 5,000 new API’s for developers. The design, called Google’s Material Design, offers new themes and new widgets that offer complex views and custom shadows and animations with the help of new API’s. Backgrounds and images look sharper than ever and the ‘shadows’ effect is the first to be introduced.

  • Theme for apps

    App makers can create different themes for the apps that can help change the users’ Android experience.

  • More stable core

    Google seems to be doing away with its lagging issue bit by bit. The lollipop promises a more stable core, offering better frame rates and user experience. In fact, Google is investing in Project Volta that is making the cores more energy efficient.

  • Heavy Customization capability

    Users have a room for customizing their Android easily. While Google will maintain the same design language for all of its devices, from Google Chrome to Android Wear.

  • More intuitive

    Lollipop better understands the users. Whether it be the use of contextual technology with the help of Google Now or touch feedback on default animations, Lollipop is more intuitive than its predecessors.

  • Testing

    Developers can test apps with a new updated runtime, which helps apps pass the ART test.

What makes Android Lollipop appeal?

Android is open source and thus has the scope of customization. While Google releases its Android version, most providers customize it. So, there is a different feel to your Samsung Galaxy S 6 than the HTC M9. What the customizations do, is help enhance features and enable developers to expand on device capabilities.

Where does it fall short?

Google is still working on stability. Android still faces the lag issues

What’s the future like?

Google has been experimenting with Android for a long time. It’s time they got it right and the Lollipop was a step in the right direction.  Android M, already slated to be released by the year end, will further expand on Android’s capabilities.

Verdict

Google offers more customizations than Android but a system that still is plagued by lags. iOS offers a lag free system but offers less customizations. Both the companies are looking at enhancing user experience, albeit different ways.

While Apple’s CEO Tim Cook termed Google’s system as vulnerable, Google’s then CEO Larry Page said that there was no real competition to Google. Developers need to understand that both the app ecosystems offer a lot when it comes to exposure and the way out is only to move from one ecosystem to another. As to which ecosystem, works better initially, here’s the deal – Google’s Play Store fares better when it comes to freemium models while Apple is the better way to go first if you’re offering paid apps.

What’s The Future of eCommerce? It’s mCommerce!

Sales are the lifeblood of every business. This holds true for the online businesses as well. And would understand this better than the eCommerce entrepreneurs? To be able to craft winning strategies, eCommerce entrepreneurs have to track their sales every month. Not only this, they also have to keep a track of new customers visiting and buying from them, repeat customer and the purchases made by them and many other critical details of the activities their target audience is doing on their website. So, you have been all this so far. That’s great! But what more are doing? No we are not talking about shooting out newsletters regularly to your website visitors. Neither are we talking about rolling out huge discounts and irresistible offers for your customers. We have no doubts that you are doing all of that and doing a pretty fine job with your eCommerce website.

But there’s one more thing on which the success or failure of every online business hinges. And that is how readily and quickly you adapt your business to the changes your immediate environment (technological or consumer behavior) may offer you. Currently, the eCommerce industry is faced with changes in both technological environment as well as changes in the consumer behavior. We have shifted from the desktop era to the mobile era and the eCommerce industry is not an exception. Your buyers are searching for your business over their mobile devices. Are you prepared to greet them there? You better be because if you are not, be ready to say goodbye to them for forever.

If you wish to keep your customers with you then say hello to mCommerce! You need to do this because that’s where eCommerce is headed. To help you with this emerging trend, we are listing out five very basic things you can adopt to be able to cater to your mobile audience.

  • The first thing you can do is to build a responsive website or make your existing website responsive to different screen sizes.
  • Don’t forget to make your responsive website compatible with multiple platforms so that your users can access your mCommerce store from any device without facing any issue.
  • To stay ahead of your competitors, make special efforts to make your website faster, clutter-free and user-friendly. Offering ten features is not that important, but offering a self understood mobile website will help you in the long run.
  • Your mCommerce website has to offer a great user experience so that they keep coming back to you again and again.
  • Native apps will help you point your sales figures to the north so don’t hesitate from developing native apps for Android, iOS, Windows or any other platform.

What’s Coming In WordPress 4.1?

WordPress 4.0 was released in the beginning of September this year and it came with tons of new improvements like the enhanced post editor, improved Internationalization support, etc. But let’s admit, it wasn’t the revolution all of us had expected. But the latest WordPress 4.1 which is expected to be released in the coming next week will have new features and more visible changes. From the latest update you can expect to see some new UI elements, modes in the dashboard, query API and numerous performance enhancements. In this blog post, we will talk about the expected changes that are coming in WordPress 4.1 and what they will mean for the users.

The New Theme

The first thing you will notice new in WordPress 4.1 is the default Twenty Fifteen theme. The beautifully designed theme fits perfectly well with WordPress Internationalization. The new theme supports Google’s Noto Serif & Sans fonts and that to for many languages. This means that users who publish content in any of the languages with non-Latin alphabets will not have to adjust fonts for their languages.

Apart from this, from a features point of view the Twenty Fifteen theme offers options like custom header and custom background. You will be able to set color schemes and there will be built-in support for popular social buttons. All you will need to do is to create a menu in the native WordPress interface and these icons will appear on your website / blog.

The New Dashboard

In the earlier releases including the release of WordPress 4.0, various improvements were made to better the language pack support. With WordPress 4.1, this trend will go further I the sense that the users will now be able to directly download appropriate language packs from WordPress’s official website.

The WordPress 4.1 will offer its users a floating panel in the visual mode that will make things more intuitive for them. Another improvement in the latest version will help the beginners to align the images better and easily in the WordPress post editor.

Also, the Login sessions that were implemented in the WordPress 4.0 are going to have management UI in settings. This means that the users will now be able to review what sessions they have on different devices and log out if they feel it is necessary.

Other Changes

Some other changes that you can expect from the new release includes improved user interface for the purpose of installing and updating plugins and themes; improvements to media management on mobile devices; meta, date, and tax query improvements; and accessibility improvements.

All You Need To Know About NoSQL

What is NoSQL and why one should use it are the questions that have been in the air for a long time. While there are some who are unfamiliar with the technology, there are many who are looking for a new alternative to solve some of the issues they facing with their current database systems. Through this blog post we aim to demystify NoSQL for the relational database crowd and for the understanding of common information seekers.

What is NoSQL?

A NoSQL database environment is a non-relational and largely distributed database system. It enables rapid, ad-hoc organization of data. It is also very useful to analyze high volume of disparate data types. But what needs to be made clear here is that NoSQL encompasses a wide variety of different database technologies and is not a single beast.

These different database technologies were developed in response to the rising volume of data that was stored about the users, objects and products. Another reason was that the frequency in which these data were accessed also increased over time. To improve the performance and processing needs of the database system, the NoSQL was developed. These are referred to as cloud databases, non-relational databases and Big Data databases.

The most common types of NoSQL Databases

The most common categories of NoSQL available and widely used today by many are listed below:

  • Key-Value Store: These databases are designed for storing your data in a schema-less way. The data within it consists an indexed key and a value, hence the name. Common examples of this type of database are Cassandra, Azure Table Storage (ATS).
  • Column Store: These store data as columns which makes aggregation fast. But you still have to do object – table modelling and mapping by yourself. Examples include BigTable and HyperTable.
  • Document Database: These databases expand on the basic idea of key-value stores. These databases store application information in logical aggregates. Take a scenario where there would be a lot of tables, requiring a lot of joins to pull back an aggregate. Common examples of this type of databases include MongoDB and CouchDB.
  • Graph Database: These are based on the graph theory. Graph databases are designed for data whose relations are well represented as a graph. Examples are Neo4J and Polyglot.

Why use NoSQL?

There are many reasons why many are opting for NoSQL databases today. It offers benefits to both, developers as well as the businesses who are need of a strong database system. Here are some reasons that totally make NoSQL a great choice for your next project.

  • It improves the programmer’s productivity by letting him / her to choose a database that better matches the application needs that he / she is working on.
  • It improves the data access performance since it is capable of handling larger data volumes. So, it reduces latency and improves throughput.
  • Most of the NoSQL databases are developed and known to tackle particular, often extreme challenges.
  • NoSQL systems, such as Hadoop are capable of handling the volumes of ‘big data’ as compared to what even the biggest of RDBMS.
  • NoSQL databases use a number of low cost commodity servers to manage huge volumes of data and transaction, allowing you to store and process more data at a much lower cost.
  • NoSQL databases have more relaxed data model restrictions, which is always a good thing.