There’s been much in the media recently about the relative merits of the Responsive Design approach versus creating platform-specific Apps. Firstly, it goes without saying that a great number of Apps get their input / database feed from a master website of some description. For many companies, the best strategy would be a mix of both of the aforementioned formats. Yet here we will line up the pros and cons of each to help you figure out which overall approach may be strongest for you:
IMMEDIATE - customers can connect with you instantly
MORE REACH - anyone can access your content, on any device, without any special preparation or significant requirements
MORE SEAMLESS - customer is using variations of the exact same interface and exactly the same content on all devices
MORE CONNECTED - Customer can easily switch access points and link from newsletters, emails and alerts - which don’t typically link into Apps
MORE UNIFORM - It’s the exact same framework and content for every customer
BETTER SEO - first Google and now the Bing search engine gives preference to mobile-optimised sites
INSTANT UPDATES - new features, functionality and updates immediately rolled-out and available to all
SINGLE CUSTOMER VIEW - customers and business owners alike both get singular overview interface which unifies all activities for all users
MORE SOCIAL / MORE SHARED - all users can interact and collaborate directly - regardless of what device or platform they subscribe to
MORE CHOICES, MORE USER INFLUENCE - customers can choose a variety of browsers and utility plugins to aid and improve experience on their own terms, versus Apps - where the device platform and developers totally control the environment
BEST FIT APPROACH - responsive experience cannot be optimised for each device like an App can
BROWSER VAGARIES - some municipalities, libraries and government deparments still running very old versions of Windows and IE, many customers using Privacy Tools and Ad Blockers, which can curtail and impact on specific services and total experience
OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE - customer experience optimised for and on each device
MORE CONTROL OVER ENVIRONMENT - you can assert higher functional control over how the App works and looks
A number of our customers are having to face up to the paradigm shift of the transition towards mobile - a recent study by Pew Research reveals that almost 80% of the top fifty news sites are seeing more traffic on mobile devices than desktop. Many of those used to writing for traditional print media are finding the switch to digital formats somewhat tricky - particularly those who don’t have a history of writing for tabloids. It’s no secret that BuzzFeed is the master of mobile content - in terms of reach, monetisation and social sharing, and their format of short listicles with clickbaiting titles is certainly a winning combination. You of course don’t need to copy BuzzFeed entirely to be successful, though there are obviously a number of lessons that can be learnt from them.
You need to stand out and have immediate appeal - this means finding ways to differentiate yourself from competing media - without appearing crass or overly irreverent q.v. Editorial Tone of Voice. We know that readers have an increasingly short attention span, so you have a limited time to catch their attentions. You need to find unique and interesting angles which distinguish you clearly from the competition. Use of video and smart, cleverly selected photography is key as both can give you a critical advantage / edge.
Editorial Tone of Voice
With the added competition a global media markeplace brings - it has never been more important to have a distinct personality. In order to encourage comments and debate you can no longer really report news wholly neutrally - you need to take a position. Taking a position on a news article or feature encourages support / disagreement and debate - which is exactly what you want. The more your article is commented on and shared, the bigger your impact and reach. You don’t need to be overly sensationalist in your headlines, but you cannot afford to be neutral and bland either. You should also use the byline to reinforce / mitigate the nature of your headline. The future success of your media business will be all about ’tone’.
Inverted Pyramid / Digest / Short-form
All journalists should be familiar with the inverted pyramid format - that it to say - including all the key facts at the very top of the
Within a week of Google announcing that you would be able to order food delivery from search results, Twitter announces a collaboration with Domino’s - where customers can order Pizza by tweeting a specific pizza emoji. It’s not quite as dazzling as it sounds, as it really only allows frequent customers to re-order their standard / default order. Compared to going through the usual 5-6 step checkout though it’s one slick shortcut.
Google’s service is a collaboration (currently US only) with Seamless, Grubhub, Eat24, Delivery.com, BeyondMenu and MyPizza.com. The mechanic is that someone who searches for one of the participating restaurants gets an additional option in the search results to ’Place an order’ - this then routes via one of those restaurant delivery services and clicks on through to the order menu.
As all consumer psychologists will tell you - speed is always of the essence, as the longer you give your customers to think about things, the more likely they are to change their minds. People often walk away from a store or checkout if some complication, incidental or other delay arises. The quicker you can transition a consumer desire into a purchase, then the higher the conversion rate will be.
This also feeds more into wearable devices with more restrictive real estate, and where consumers would not have the patience for a multi-step process. The quicker and easier you can accomplish something, the more likely that is to work as a service. I look forward to seeing more advances on this front in the near future. I use Google and Wikipedia several times a day, and for them to find new ways to fund their free services is a fair exchange for me ...
Affino is looking to grow its Projects Team further to handle an expanding workload. We are seeking to hire 2 new permanent members of staff - dedicated and self-motivated, disciplined individuals who work well as part of a dynamic team, but can also operate independently. The Affino Team / A-Team is a closely knit collaborative unit even though we are a distributed company and all members work largely from home. The team dynamic is vital to the success of the company, so the successful candidates must possess the right skill-set, as well as get on really well with all their colleagues. We communicate regularly, using tools like Skype, and so good written and verbal communication skills are essential. Affino works at the cutting-edge of Internet / Mobile Business Technology, delivering global, class-leading and multiple-award-wining social commerce / business platforms / vertical industry hub websites.
The two roles we are currently seeking to fill are as follows:
Project Manager Requirements
Affino requires a Project Manager to join their dynamic team. Working from home the ideal candidate should have the drive and motivation to work alone as well as integrate daily with Affino’s friendly team and clients
Education and Skills Requirements
Prince 2 and Agile / Scrum
3 + Years Project / Programme Management or Business Analyst Experience
Software Project Management and Business Analyst with Mobile / Ecommerce / Social / Integration
Remote Working / Outsourcing Experience
Provide relevant certificates of education/qualifications
Must have excellent verbal and written communication skills
Ability to work well as part of a team and be motivated to work independently
Desire to learn new things
Be open and friendly
Manage project plans and allocate tasks to the development team
Partake in, and contribute towards the management team responsibilities, meetings and agendas, including: weekly project meeting, business plans, training events, PR events
Assist Account Managers with creating requirements plans based on existing and upcoming Affino functionality
Manage Quality Assurance on projects; ensuring that the functionality is fully tested and that bugs are resolved within agreed time-frames
Ensure highest level of product quality within our
A great part of a website’s everyday operation and every digital project is the process of managing change. Change Management is a discipline in its own right, yet aspects of it encroach on all projects and daily interactions on the web. A Change Request Process for instance is an essential operation for ensuring a project stays true to its original scope and specification. All project managers are familiar with scope creep - when a client tries to institute last-minute changes which were not included in the signed-off specs or costings.
More significantly there is a huge process in managing introduced changes. Most humans are just very set in their ways, and many feel affronted when confronted with innovations and iterations. We always warn our own clients to be wary of the ’Vocal Minority’. This is the group that vehemently and vociferously protests any sort of advancement, however good those changes may in fact be for them. The Internet often brings out the worst in people, and the most seemingly mild-mannered turn actively hostile and vitriolic with no obvious provocation.
When we worked with BBC Worldwide several years ago on the UKTV Style website, we worked with a sample of existing users to improve the experience of the message boards. The combined committee instituted a number of obvious improvements, and all involved were happy with the outcome. Yet when those changes went on general release there were vociferous protests from a small minority of users. The producer got a little unnerved by the scathing critique and re-introduced the previous version, only to be met with an even larger barrage of protests from the hitherto ’Silent Majority’- who had in fact been very happy with the changes.
You will always have trouble-makers, agitators and disrupters - particularly as your business grows in size. Once you reach a certain tipping point, you typically incur the wrath of one of these verbally offensive individuals. We ourselves have not been immune to unwarranted hostility from certain quarters. It is always a question of how to diffuse the situation and move it along in an equitable manner - often requiring some significant mitigation.
I have set out the following guidelines to help cope with such difficult situations:
This year’s Star Wars Day most likely heralds the biggest year in Star Wars since 1977. Expectations are at fever pitch for the next instalment in the franchise - ’Episode VII The Force Awakens’. There’s already mass hysteria over possible plotlines, reunions, revolutions and revelations, especially which is the latest addition to the Jedi ranks? The newest trailer should not leave any Star Wars fans in doubt that they will be royally entertained:
While we wait for the movie’s December release date, we can get stuck into its predecessors via the latest imminent console game offering - ’Star Wars Battlefront’. This allows you to immerse yourself in all the best remembered fight sequences - whether in space or on the ground - in ice or lush tropical rainforests populated with tiny teddy bears!:
Lego has also pulled the rabit out of the hat with a number of exclusive new sets - many of which will be specially available in-store today. I will likely pop across to the Lego Store at Westfield to see what’s what. Here is a preview of some of which may be available.
Following on from Saturday’s Comic Book Day, I’m already a little overwhelmed by comic book stores, having spent some not inconsiderable time in queues on that day. I may though make one more sweep today to see what Star Wars treats they have on offer - Forbidden Planet always has an amazing selection. As the film is not released until December though, I’m not entirely sure what movie tie-ins will be available right now. Perhaps Star Wars / Disney has honed its act now, as we’re still waiting for a number of the Guardians of the Galaxy toys to appear since last year.
Star Wars Day though is not really about consumerism, it’s more about thinking kindly towards and of accepting your fellow human - however alien their ways or appearance may seem to you. Regardless of your faith or religious beliefs, there is a quite evident lifeforce of some description, a common consciousness that truly unites as all ...
You may recall my delight at visiting this year’s Super London Comic Convention, and my declaring this the year of the comic! Every year something different takes my focus of attention. Two years ago it was blu-rays, last year it was grownup Lego, and this year I have become obsessed again with comics - strictly speaking Graphic Novels or Serialised Art. I have found a new level of admiration for the level of detail and process that goes into creating a typical comic book. In particular the skill of the colourist. A typical comic requires input from the following creative roles:
Author / Creator / Narrator
Illustrator / Line Artist / Penciller
On occasion, a comic may be produced by just one or two individuals, but usually there are more involved, and for some collaborations up to a dozen. Most don’t realise how much impact the colourist can have on the final version of the art - I encourage you to look up the work of Peter Steigerwald, Ula Mos and Nei Ruffino. A great example of Ula’s work can be found in the Dark Shaman illustration below, line art by Mike Krome:
Favourite Comic Publishers
Here follows a list of my favourite imprints, I have excluded behemoths DC and Marvel, although DC is represented via its more independent imprints Vertigo and Wildstorm - in truth I buy very little from the mainstream publishers ...
Following on swiftly from Cookie Armageddon, publishers have another recent development to be wary of. Last Tuesday, Google once more modified its search algorithm, this time to give preference to sites which were deemed to be more ’Mobile-Friendly’. The new changes favour mobile-optimised sites, such that they will now appear higher up the search results rankings. By contrast, sites which are not mobile-friendly - will drop down the leaderboard.
Affino has long held to a mobile-first approach to digital business and this very much supports that direction. There’s already been reports that some of the bigger publishers have been affected by the new changes, particularly Reddit. Google has produced its own ’Mobile-Friendly Test Tool’ - where you can enter your site URL to see how Google rates it.
Responsive-design websites have been increasingly prevalent of late, and no doubt this will further accelerate the adoption of that format. I don’t believe any publisher can ignore this paradigm shift, as not reacting to it will undoubtedly impact on business. Google is still by far and away the most dominant search engine, and most publishing companies are to a degree reliant on attracting traffic from and via Google.
There’s also an obvious first-mover advantage in this where the properly optimised mobile-friendly sites can win over some of the high-ground previously held by seemingly unassailable publishing giants. This partial reset on proceedings allows formerly lesser competitors to get a bigger slice of search engine traffic ...
Affino worked with IMRG on the naming and brand origination. Following a multi-step process, it was finally concluded that ’Peermap’ was the strongest candidate - in terms of relevant meaning, values conveyed, overall utility and domain availability.
The Peermap brand represents an automated benchmarking system for online retailers. It allows you to track key online sales metrics and MAP your performance against your sector PEERS, including:
Average order values
Device type - PC | tablet | smartphone
’Peermap’ can be used as a proper noun, as well as a verb and adjective. You can Peermap your site and have it be Peermapped as it were.
Designer Mark Foster supplied a number of logo ident types, and the waveform type was felt to beautifully reflect the performance graph peaks of the actual application (example above) as well as an abstract letter form for PM. The logo typeface snapped in to place pretty obviously too. The colourway of the previous website was adhered to, but the website was wholly revamped in line with the new branding and more streamlined messages:
We also completed a promotional flyer for Peermap, as follows:
The flyer puts across the key purpose and benefits of Peermap in the simplest terms. The call to action is Free Registration with an added incentive of free lifetime access to benchmarking for the first 100 retailers who register.
This is the first time in a while I won’t be getting up early on the 3rd Saturday in April. As a long-term loyal music fan and vinyl fanatic, I’ve usually been queueing up with the best of them - outside Phonica on Poland Street from about 08:00 onwards. In fact this is the first year that Record Store Day (RSD) has had a little bit of backlash - particularly from the smaller independent labels. I have noticed myself that the RSD releases have been increasingly major label re-issues and re-presses and special / re-packaged editions - like coloured vinyl or picture discs. In the last couple of years the biggest sellers were a picture disc of Kate Bush’s Running up that Hill, and Ray Parker Junior’s Ghostbusters - the former containing a proper new remix, the latter just a repackaging job really.
Vinyl sales now stand at more than 2 million units per annum - the highest in over a decade, which is a struggle with so few pressing plants still in action. As a vinyl buyer, the delays in releases have become quite commonplace as the larger labels are hogging up too much of the production capacity with their re-issues and re-presses. I have a feeling that a big part of the vinyl sales growth is caused by middle aged men trying to recapture their youth and replace their vinyl collections which they were forced to abandon when they got into their first proper relationships / marriage. Now in their middle years and facing existential quandaries about where they ended up, they think back to a time of more joy and endless possibilities.
So the smaller labels are being somewhat squeezed out at the pressing plants, but most importantly, the quality of releases on RSD (Record Store Day) is dwindling. These used to be much more unique versions of songs, new or unreleased material and special collaborations and new and unusual remixes. The vast majority now though is increasingly just more of the same old stuff that those who have collected through the years (like myself) still have in their collections.
Being only half-English, I have never been comfortable with waiting over-long in line, in fact I quite loath queueing, but will occasionally do so for something truly worthwhile. Last year I was number 20 in the queue at Phonica but still a number of the releases I wanted had been sold out already by the time I got to the