Client Relationships and the Multi-Device Web | A List Apart

Matt Griffin in a great article at A List Apart titled Client Relationships and the Multi-Device Web that opens with this line: "When you step into the room with a client, you are a visitor from the future" and then goes on to state:

The web is fluid and mercurial. Our processes for working with it—and our clients—need to reflect that. It’s time for us to shed the vestigial mindsets we’ve inherited from the advertising world—the closed communications and drama of the “big reveal”—and build new systems based on honesty, inclusion, and genuine communication. We can bring our clients into the process right away, letting them see all the flaws and bumps along the way. Through this relationship they will become true partners—rather than confused, anxious bystanders—as we learn to better navigate this strange, evolving digital universe together.

If you work in digital marketing and talk to clients often, this article is a must read.

Elliot Jay Stocks on Responsive web design ➦

Elliot Jay Stocks:

I could go on about why I think Responsive Web Design is a great idea for your websites, clients, colleagues, and of course users, but the thought I’ll leave you with is this:
Create a new HTML document, add some content, don’t add any CSS, and view that document in a browser. What do you see?
The web has always been fluid; we’ve just wasted a good number of years forcing fixed pixels onto an inherently responsive framework. The time to stop is now.

It's an interesting and thought provoking article if you're interested in this stuff. Well worth the read.

User Experience Designer vs. Creative Director | UX Booth

Andrew Maier at UX Booth in an article titled User Experience Designer vs. Creative Director:

To begin with, “functional” requirements only determine if an application can do something, not how one goes about making an application do something. The evolution of the application landscape says that the latter has quickly become a key differentiators. Therefore, the importance of the role of someone who understands users rises.

Interesting article, especially for those working in the digital space.

Life Below 600px | Paddy Donnelly

Paddy Donnelly on an excellent article about the concept of "the fold" in web design:

We all know, people have learned to scroll. They did a long time ago, but still the 'everything needs to be above the fold' concept lingers on.

It's not new, and others have argued that there is no fold in a very compelling way. But today I had an discussion about this when someone mentioned, again, that a key element was below the fold.

We were looking at the website on my 13 inch MacBook Air. Fortunately, I had it connected to a 24 inch display, so I just dragged the browser to the bigger screen and presto! The whole thing was above the fold.

I then showed them the site on the iPad. And then on the iPhone.

It's time to move on. Scrolling is simple and everybody does it naturally. There is no fold.

The Facebook Fallacy | Technology Review

Michael Wolff writing for Technology Review about the Facebook IPO:

The daily and stubborn reality for everybody building businesses on the strength of Web advertising is that the value of digital ads decreases every quarter, a consequence of their simultaneous ineffectiveness and efficiency. The nature of people's behavior on the Web and of how they interact with advertising, as well as the character of those ads themselves and their inability to command real attention, has meant a marked decline in advertising's impact.

The whole article is worth a read.

The Web Is a Customer Service Medium | Ftrain.com

Paul Ford:

When it arrived the web seemed to fill all of those niches at once. The web was surprisingly good at emulating a TV, a newspaper, a book, or a radio. Which meant that people expected it to answer the questions of each medium, and with the promise of advertising revenue as incentive, web developers set out to provide those answers. As a result, people in the newspaper industry saw the web as a newspaper. People in TV saw the web as TV, and people in book publishing saw it as a weird kind of potential book. But the web is not just some kind of magic all-absorbing meta-medium. It's its own thing.

A great article. Go read it now.

Twitter tracking you via their buttons and widgets

From an email I received from Twitter recently:

Here are some of the main changes to our Privacy Policy, with links for more information:

We've provided more details about the information we collect and how we use it to deliver our services and to improve Twitter. One example: our new tailored suggestions feature, which is based on your recent visits to websites that integrate Twitter buttons or widgets, is an experiment that we're beginning to roll out to some users in a number of countries.

That's despicable. I don't have any social media buttons on my site and I'm now happy I never put them in. I did consider it at one point, but just didn't have the time so left it. Definitely not putting them in now.

What I do use is the "Share Article" functionality built into Squarespace (affiliate link), which doesn't track anything. Hover over the link below this article for an example. It makes it easy to share without tracking you. In fact, the only tag on this site is for Google Analytics and I'm considering removing that as well as Squarespace provides nice analytics out of the box.

If you want to prevent Twitter and anybody else from tracking you and invading your privacy, use Ghostery.

The Decline and Fall of 'Draw Something' | The Atlantic Wire

Dashiell Bennett:

Just six weeks ago, Draw Something was the hottest mobile game in the world, but today its popularity has collapsed and Zynga may be left holding the bag.

Should serve as a reminder that many Internet businesses probably aren't worth the insane amounts of money they're valued for. As a friend put it:  

It just takes a change in usage pattern to bring them to their knees.

Just ask MySpace.

'Action needed' to meet UK's cookie tracking deadline | BBC

The BBC explaining the new cookie laws about to take effect in the UK that essentially it will require all UK sites to:

  • Tell people that the site contains cookies
  • Explain what the cookies are doing
  • Obtain visitors' consent to store a cookie on their device

A live example can be found in the ICO website. It's an interesting approach to privacy concerns and at least it's trying to educate the wider audience as to what's going on without them knowing about it. But I don't think most people will understand this or even want to take the time to understand it. It's just way too geeky for most.

Other interesting bits from the BBC article:

There are on average 14 tracking tools per webpage on the UK's most popular sites, according to a study.

and then

The firm said that 68% of the trackers analysed belonged to third-parties, usually advertisers, rather than the site's owner.

If you use a plugin or browser extension to prevent or block cookies, you'll notice just how many tags are on some sites. They're not always bad though. When advertisers use them to serve more targeted ads, they do serve a purpose. The advertisers gets a better chance of being relevant and the customer gets to see only ads that might be of interest. However, it's when advertisers know too much about you and use this information the wrong way that I see an issue.

Nielsen is wrong on mobile | .net magazine

Following up on my previous post on mobile sites vs. full sites, here's a really good refutal to Nielsen's recommendations by Josh Clark titled Nielsen is wrong on mobile. He writes:

The answer is not building a separate website for every platform. That might've been fine when a new platform arrived every few years. But now that they seem to arrive every few weeks, that strategy is untenable. There aren't enough of us to support and design a fresh website for mobile, for tablets (for 7" and for 10" tablets), for television and for speech-based interfaces that are around the corner.

It's a content-strategy nightmare and a voracious resource hog to build and support separate websites for each and every platform, for each and every screen size, for each and every input style (touch, speech, text and so on).

Definitely with a read.

Mobile Site vs. Full Site (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Jakob Nielsen's on having a mobile site vs. a full site:

Good mobile user experience requires a different design than what's needed to satisfy desktop users. Two designs, two sites, and cross-linking to make it all work.

He basically says you need 2 completely different sites, and that for the mobile site, you should "cut features, to eliminate things that are not core to the mobile use case; cut content, to reduce word count and defer secondary information to secondary pages; and enlarge interface elements, to accommodate the "fat finger" problem."

In a way, this makes sense. Navigating a website designed for desktop use on a mobile phone is frustrating at best and downright impossible at worst.

However, I don't agree with cutting down features and content. Just because you're on a mobile doesn't always mean you're just after a quick fix or don't need all the information. I'd argue that many people today will use their smartphone to browse the web just because it's at arms reach and they can't be bothered to get up and open their laptop. This doesn't mean they need less features and content.

The challenge, I think, is a design and usability one. And it's not an easy one.