Tag Archive for Internet

Building Content for Mobile Devices

This is the third in a series of posts walking readers through the mobile advertising space. Stay tuned for more posts over the coming weeks. This post is also published on the Rubicon Project blog.

Fragmented Mobile Content

Fixing Mobile

As I covered in the first blog post, mobile presents a tremendous market opportunity for publishers. A large and growing share of traffic comes from mobile devices. According to comScore, 13.3% of pageviews came from mobile devices in August.

On a smartphone there are basically two ways to go online: web or apps. Let’s start with apps. In contrast to mobile web, apps have been built from the ground up for smartphones. Content has rendered into an experience that doesn’t require a mouse and/or keyboard.  Additionally, apps normally don’t feel like a pared down or diminished version of their online display counterpart. Think about your favorite app – it’s likely that you’re playing a game, checking weather, interacting on a social network or looking for directions. These experiences seem natural on a smartphone app.

Apps vs Browser

In contrast to apps, using a browser on a smartphone to access a site’s “desktop experience” creates a number of challenges. When presented with a standard web page the smartphone’s browser will shrink the content to fit the width of the display.  This has the unfortunate effect of making all of the content very small, forcing the user to pinch, zoom and swipe to see content.

In order to combat this effect, publishers create “mobile optimized” websites. These sites are built with the screen size limits in mind. They typically feature pared down versions of their online display (desktop) counterparts, and often put smaller versions of images in-line with text designed to take the full width of the smaller screen.

In contrast to a negative experience on a smartphone, a tablet has more in common with standard desktop experiences.  Most standard web sites render just fine on tablets and even the ads can be seen. Users can view content on tablets with very little zooming and swiping. However, while the content renders mostly correct, tablets do share a challenge with their smartphone counterparts – the unique nature of touch navigation.

There are many resources online to guide you through the step-by-step process of optimizing your content for mobile devices. To get started it is important to recognize that mobile devices are navigated by touch, which is quite different than the mouse-driven, point-and-click navigation of the desktop world. Rather than clicks, you will design for taps; instead of scrolls you will design for drags and swipes. These are subtle differences that change the way that a user interacts with content. Button size becomes important. Drop down menus are harder to use. Anything that requires a hover is pretty much useless in a touch world.

Bytes

Another thing to consider is the file size of your site. Since much of the content accessed via mobile devices will be downloaded over cellular rather than high-speed access via Wi-Fi, it is important to trim the fat and reduce that file size as much as possible. A final consideration is the absence of Flash in the mobile web world. Flash content will not render on iOS devices. Given the ubiquity of iPhones and iPads, this is an important issue to address. There are alternatives to Flash, such as HTML5, that deliver similar capabilities and work across all devices.

At the end of the day, these devices share many characteristics but what works on a smartphone won’t necessarily work on a tablet; and vice-versa.  It’s important to examine these two device types independently to determine the best user experience for your content across these devices.  They need to be evaluated in terms of screen-size and form factor for strategies across content.  This goes from content to creative to analytics.  Have you built a mobile optimized site? What challenges have you faced? Comment below for other readers and I’ll address questions in future posts.

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Interop Las Vegas 2012

20120516-154111.jpgInterop gives you a report of your activities on the show floor. Each log entry is generated when your badge gets scanned at a exhibitor booth. This can be used to let your boss know that you weren’t playing hooky the entire time.

Exhibitor Booth Scans

Scan Date Exhibiting Company URL
5/8/2012 11:56:00 AM Pagerduty www.pagerduty.com
5/8/2012 12:21:00 PM Tripwire www.tripwire.com
5/8/2012 12:56:00 PM Citrix Systems www.citrix.com
5/8/2012 1:23:00 PM New Horizons Computer Learning Centers
5/8/2012 1:25:00 PM Omnitron Systems http://www.omnitron-systems.com
5/8/2012 1:28:00 PM F5 Networks http://www.f5.com
5/8/2012 4:12:00 PM Esri http://www.esri.com

GoogleTV, AppleTV, Tivo: Listen up

Tivo, you had it right. You were in the right place with a near perfect device. You were missing a DVD player and the Internet, but that’s about it. Honestly, you had me sold.

Apple, you’re making progress. You’ve got some of the Internet, all of my music and you almost negate the need for a DVD player. Let me back up a tic, none of you need a Blu-Ray player. The format may have won but I don’t have racks of Blu-Ray disks on my shelf, I’ve got DVDs.

Google, Sling, DLink (ha!), you’re not there either. None of you are, none of you will be until you get all these things right. Ready? Here we go.

The perfect device for my TV will do all of the following:

  • Replace my cable or satellite box
  • Play my DVDs and maybe my Blu-Ray disks
  • Have a web browser and support all web formats (yeah, even Flash Mr. Jobs)
  • Have a smart device (phone, tablet) as the remote
  • Sync with my music and movies on my computer
  • Have all DVR functionality
  • Allow me to copy my shows onto my computer or smart device (and maybe even let me pull the content remotely like Sling)

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This web page is fat

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee, Creator of the World Wide Web.Photo Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/captsolo/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Do we really need to keep calling them web pages? What started out as an open document format for the exchange of data between researchers has quickly evolved into a new application platform where most of the computing happens in the cloud instead of on your desktop computer. The WorldWideWeb was created in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee while he was working at CERN. His objective at the time was to enable his scientific colleagues to exchange research information electronically in a commonly consumable format. The Web allowed researchers to link their documents to one another via a hyperlink. This acted as an active cross-reference within the document itself. No longer would a person reading a paper by one researcher need to dig up another paper referenced in the document, they could just click on the link and go straight to it.

For a couple years the Web developed quietly. Pages were small and purposeful; browsers were few and eventually dominated by Mosaic. But in 1993 Netscape Navigator showed up at the party with some seed money and a business plan. It would take a year or two to unseat Mosaic, but eventually it enjoyed the widest user base on the Internet. The party, for Navigator, lasted until 1997. By that time the average web page size was about 44 Kilobytes according to a survey conducted at Georgia Tech. Netscape introduced an on-the-fly load style during its reign, which rendered the page as elements were downloaded as opposed to waiting until it was completely downloaded. This would allow a user to read the text of the page while the graphics were loading, a major breakthrough for the mostly dial-up user base. Read more

Elements of the Web moving to Facebook

FacebookIn my last post I mentioned how some people with a narrow view of the Internet couldn’t verbally distinguish it from an email message.  Obviously that’s a very small subset of folks, but it brings up an interesting phenomena.  The Internet has a few primary use cases for a majority of the man-hours that are spent online and, while the percentage of time in each use case has changed, the cases themselves have largely remained the same since the 90s, maybe even the 80s!  Of these cases, many of them are coalescing at Facebook’s doorstep.

The Social Web

Socializing on the Internet has taken many forms over the years.  Email can be traced back to 1971 and gained popularity as a way of social interaction at universities in the late 80s and early 90s.  With the rise of residential Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AOL, EarthLink and MindSpring email reached out to the general public throughout the rest of the 90s.  Then the dedicated email services like Hotmail (now Windows Live Mail), Yahoo! Mail and Gmail began to take over.  AOL eventually opened up email service to the general public in an attempt to maintain a foothold in the marketplace.  Of these, Yahoo! Mail is the most popular, but the demands on email as a social tool have waned.  Email is full of spam; over 90% of all messages sent are junk.  Email addresses are in constant flux as people change jobs or move to different ISPs.  Facebook Messaging is on the rise and for many people it has replaced email as the primary messaging tool between friends.  It’s a closed system, which tends to protect it from spam and people don’t change or abandon their Facebook accounts so address books don’t need frequent updates. Read more