Adaptive web design…
With the plethora of internet enabled devices in our very homes, it has become increasingly important to consider how an adaptive (responsive / variable – the names change but the theory stays the same) website can help boost your online presence. Now I will make a bold(ish) statement from the get go. Adaptive web design is not necessary for everyone. While it doesn’t need to change the structural aesthetics of a good 960 grid (the best practice width for website design) website, it’s also probably fair to say that some websites are rarely viewed by mobile devices.
Having said that, if you can develop to an adaptive grid, you may as well. iPhones, Android phones, iPads, tablets and PDAs – depending on the device you use to browse the web, you will be subjected to a certain screen width. An adaptive website basically fits to the screen size, and ‘adapts’ to display a different layout, tailored to the device you are using. It’s different from a mobile friendly website, in the sense that while an adaptive grid looks great on a smart phone, it changes to the screen size, not specifically to the device. The easiest way of understanding how an adaptive grid website works is to view some of these great examples below.
Change the size of your browser to see it in action.
A guide to keeping Twitter simple…
It’s fairly easy to understand the potential benefits of Twitter, both personally and for a business. But, like the rest of us, you may well be short on time and think that social media is a nicety time doesn’t allow. The truth is, Twitter should be a fairly fundamental part of any social media strategy, and understanding how to manage your Twitter account effectively can help you develop this strategy, without letting it overtake your life.
The great thing about social media is as a phenomenal shift in the way we communicate, it has been embraced by some great technology companies who have done all the hard work to make our own lives more simple.
TweetDeck is a desktop app that allows you to setup segmented twitter feeds, LinkedIn and your Facebook account (and others) all in one. It uses fairly simple columns to segment your interests, mentions, direct messages or general friend feeds at the click of a button.
My columns are fairly simply setup, with a feed with all friends tweets on the left, any mentions following that, direct messages, my LinkedIn news updates and finally Facebook feed.
It means I can keep an eye on the basics. It lets me know when someone has retweeted what I have said, so I can return the favour at a later date. Or if someone has asked me a question, I can reply promptly, without having to be reminded by Twitter that I have a message.
As a desktop app, I can leave it running in the background (with noise notifications setup) so I can be aware of what’s happening, without having to keep a constant eye on it. I can quickly switch between what I am working on and Twitter without any fuss. Most importantly, if I have something to say, I can flick it up, and, using one of the integrated Twitter tools such as TwitPic, YFrog, bit.ly etc, tweet anything from pictures to videos all through the same tool. It saves me time, and allows me more flexibility in my tweets.
For those of you with lots of followers or are looking for more advanced management, try playing about with the global filter under preferences. This tool will create a column with updates surrounding certain terms, so if you’re an IFA and someone mentions #pensions, you could jump right in and message them with some advice. You also may wish to segment your friends into groups, so you can keep an even closer eye on those people who influence you, as we all have them, rather than shifting through hundreds of micro-blogs that may not be relevant.
So, while you’re at your computer, use TweetDeck, but what about on the move, in theory one of the most powerful uses of Twitter, instant micro-blogs. Well, Twitterlator is another great tool. Available as a free or paid app, Twitterlator offers an easy means of keeping up to date while out and about. Much like TweetDeck (which coincidentally also has an iPhone app) it segments things into general tweets, mentions and direct messages, and allows easy use of third party tools for the on the go photo or longer message. Coupled with TweetDeck, it means you can easily stay on top of your tweets, without taking up all of your time. There are plenty of other android and iPhone apps that achieve fairly similar things, I just happen to use Twitterlator, but find one that works for you and use it, and let’s start some #intrigue. @rjpalmer
Who doesn’t like cookies… the ICO’s PECR doesn’t
Perhaps I should clarify, I don’t mean the wondrous Frisbee shaped sugar filled melt in your mouth treats, although I’m impartial to a good cookie at the best of times. No, I mean browser cookies and the fact that today (possibly yesterday by the time I finish writing this) marked the introduction of a new regulation within the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, aptly hyphenated to ‘PECR’.
Now let me (briefly) outline what a cookie is. The Information Commissioner’s Office, the body tasked with introducing and policing the revisions define a cookie as, “a small file of letters and numbers downloaded on to a
device when the user accesses certain websites. Cookies allow a
website to recognise a user’s device”. Fairly nondescript I’ll admit, but it kind of sums up what could otherwise be a long winded and boring topic. In essence, a web cookie stores information about you and talks to a web application in order to provide a more personalised user experience. Every time you add an item to your basket in an e-commerce shop, it is saved in a cookie. Every time you revisit a website and it says, “Hello Fred” (or your name more likely), it is because it has stored a cookie in your browser.
The new Regulation now demands that users be given clear instructions as to what a cookie will do, and requires them to ‘opt-in’, allowing one on your browser only after full understanding and acceptance. Now I’m all in when it comes to consumer rights and privacy, but this is taking things a little too far if you ask me.
Admittedly, I haven’t explained that there are also such things as ‘persistent cookies’ that can last for many years (even if you upgrade your browser) that track your movements across sites to display more relevant ads and can even analyse search patterns. Sound scary? I’m not entirely convinced it should, as even these are in theory design to help everyone. Yes of course, help the media companies and advertisers, but who likes seeing ads for tenner ladies when your a 27 year old bloke.
Some may argue that cookies can be misused both by site owners and malware, but most cookies these days are encrypted to protect your information, so if the agenda here is to protect user privacy, then that’s a good place to start.
To summise, placing the need for ‘informed consent’ on every website is ill advised. Users won’t read them, but will get frustrated with them, web owners will need to pay for them, but not benefit from them, and web developers will spend a long time developing the best solution for something that browsers will undoubtedly replace in the future.
If you are worried about the impact these regulations may have on your website, please call our dedicated hotli… yea right – follow this link. A few good suggestions for preparation, although most small e-commerce owners will not enjoy the cost of this. Alternatively, just ignore it, and hope that Google or Firefox step in and pave the way for all browsers to solve the problem for you – except Internet Explorer of course, that would be asking too much.
FBML makes room for the iFrame…
In theory, FBML (Facebook Markup Language) is slowly being phased out, but while the official cut off for installing applications using FBML has passed (in theory it was March 18th) you can still actually use it – in fact I installed it onto a page only last week.
On the other hand iFrames, as you may well know, load content from your own server, meaning these factor becomes irrelevant. Being completely independent of Facebook, this also means that you could, probably after a little tweaking, transfer the application to another platform.
Strangely I have heard a few people say they like FBML as it makes the platform look more like Facebook. Of course this is a bit of a confusing argument as the content of an iFrame can look exactly ow you want it to with a bit of decent CSS.
The bottom line is, iFrames make more sense, and if anything open up the market to the less technically gifted. Plenty of people these days are capable of throwing together a basic website, even if there design skills or advanced technical knowledge is lacking. iFrames allow them to give it a go too, making it accessible to small businesses without the budget to hire an agency. Just remember, if you are to go down this route, Google the basic principles of a Facebook page, such as width requirements.
My hope is that this move makes social media more accessible to businesses, and can provide richer experiences to the end user.