10 April, 2013

Responsive Design vs. Adaptive or 'Screen Specific' Design


We're trying to understand some of the nuances that marketers are taking into their decision making process when it comes to mobile design philosophy. What makes an organization, either from a build & deploy point of view or a 'customer experience first' point of view, choose what they choose when it comes to mobilizing their web properties.

This is not the Apps vs. Mobile Web debate. 

What we're discussing is Server vs. Browser decisions about the mobile presentation layer. There are roughly two schools of thought (though lots of versions and variations) when it comes to mobile design philosophy:

Responsive Design - This is where you build a site that adjusts itself in the browser based on how big it is. On a small mobile phone screen, you may have some navigation at the bottom, big easy to follow text titles and large fonts for easy reading. However as you scale up this same code into a tablet or desktop experience, the presentation layer is shifted at different 'break points' and nav may move around, fonts become more appropriate for a larger screen and images fall into place.

Responsive design is also primarily happening on the client side, with the work being done by the browser.

Adaptive or 'Screen Specific' Design - This is a different approach. Designing for each screen is about creating an experience specific to what a user may need. Depending on the industry, this usually manifests as 'mobile sites for specific purposes' trading copy and elaborate image-heavy design for simple buttons, location-based features, click-to-call functionality (since they're on a phone) and that sort of thing.

This is typically handled server-side, detecting a 'User Agent' (the thing that the site uses to determine what browser, resolution, version, etc) and then serving the correct site, be it a mobile site or tablet or desktop or even Smart TV.  For brands that want to control individual experiences differently, or simply strip away the web-chaff from the inter-wheat, approaching mobile design from this perspective makes sense.


So is there a right answer?  

Different brands have different needs.  Like any tactic, there is often a blend of both approaches depending on the user/audience, the product, vertical, as well as real business considerations like budget and speed to market.

Some brands simply let their customers decide. When Google says that 50% of searches are happening via smartphones, companies who pour millions into search marketing need to have an approach to acquisition through mobile.  When analytics tells you that 98% of your customers viewing your site from a mobile device are using Safari on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch-- this should inform your strategy in the short term at the very least.  Companies are still using giant Flash elements for promotions and even navigation on their sites.

So which factors are informing your decision making process?  You can help by telling the Canadian Marketing Association what you think:  http://4qr.me/cmamobile . It's a ONE QUESTION survey about your approach or philosophy when it comes to mobile design.



Andrew Kinnear is a member of the Canadian Marketing Association's Digital Council, and works at JPMorgan Chase managing digital strategy in Toronto. Follow him @andrewkinnear




13 March, 2013

Crowdfunding a Movie: Veronica Mars on Kickstarter!


So even though it's a little bit '90210' for someone in my demographic, I've been a fan of Veronica Mars since it/she appeared on the scene. It's sort of a Sherlock Holmes meets High School Drama kind of show, with episodic adventures but a season long mystery to solve. (Bus Crash anyone?).

 Anyway, years later, Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas are on board with the studio's blessing to try to fund a movie in a way that's never been done before on this scale. Basically, the more money they raise, the cooler the movie they can make. From Rob's Bio:

Rob Thomas is the creator and executive producer of VERONICA MARS. He is also one of the co-creators and executive producers of PARTY DOWN. This particular Rob Thomas never fronted Matchbox 20. He did, however, put 20 points up on Greg "Cadillac" Anderson in a high school basketball game in 1983.

 I Kickstarted this project, but beware that items won't ship to Canada... That's a feature of Kickstarter, not the project, so I opted to get a virtual reward-- though the movie will be reward enough.

What amazes me is the devotion and willingness of casual fans to spend literally more than what some DVD sets cost-- just to get a movie made. Not even to actually get the movie.  In this case though, some of the rewards are pretty awesome, including personal voicemail recordings by Kristen Bell, Red Carpet experiences, and even ROLES in the movie itself.

 NOTE: This project launched TODAY (March 13th) and at the time of this posting had raised over $1.2mil so far. They have 30 days. This is crazy.

04 March, 2013

Changing an organization--because of Facebook?


From the 2012 Facebook Best Practices Guide for Marketers

Isn't it interesting that certain changes in the world affect a marketing team, and others, though seemingly important, don't?

That's the approach I took with a recent blog post on the CMA Blog. As part of my work with the CMA's Digital Marketing Council, me and another awesome dude named Steve Mahoney took time out of our busy day to sit down with Facebook Canada's managing director in 2012. (Actually, he took time out to talk to us-- we weren't doing much other than waiting to get some quotes from him...) And quotes we did! ...get?

Jordan Banks, who is the Mark Zuckerburg of the Great White North, was happy to share some insights about how Facebook has affected marketing teams and brands in Canada:
In any given day on Facebook, there are 100 million connections being made between people and brands,” said Banks. “That's 100% YoY growth - so in 2011 that number was 50 million connections. So to me, that's really a proxy for the increased importance of brands in this thing we call the social graph.
What I liked most about speaking with Jordan Banks, and trying to understand the marketing world from Facebook's perspective, was that Facebook is something that is truly new and has never been possible before.  Even today, when you go to send a DM to your database or decide on some search terms for a paid-search campaign, you can't target based on who the potential customer IS, only what they've done, or what you see as their intent.  With Facebook, (and more recently other platforms) you can finally target that 18-35 demographic you so covet, not based on indicators that lead you to believe they are 18-35, but because they have said their birthday was in 1987. Exactly.  And you can wish them a happy birthday too.

To have a look at the full post with awesome perspective from Jordan Banks, as well as my attempt to write a blog post that was a little less conversational, check out the post here: Facebook's Impact on Business: Organizational Changes in Thinking.


Special thanks to Jordan for your time, Stacie and Carrie from High Road for setting it up, and the CMA for publishing.

26 February, 2013

Scanning at POS: The Past is the future


Myself and some colleagues went down the rabbit-hole on this one a while back. What's the difference between a Laser scanner and a CCD scanner? Won't everyone use NFC in the future? Will payments and loyalty be synonymous?

This is a big nut to crack, because we're talking about physical hardware differences, emerging trends in payment and loyalty technology, ability or willingness for retailers to upgrade or even change POS hardware, retailer requirements for payment type, loyalty card tracking and more.

Let's start with the hardware. Most retailers that scan a barcode on a product when they sell it to you are using some form of laser scanner. These scanners typically have moving parts so as to make the scanning process easier for the employee, but not always. Sometimes you see the straight-beam hand-held scanners in older retailers. The pros here center around flexibility, distance of the scanner from the code and cost. The cons are that there are moving parts that wear out and laser-diodes don't last as long as LEDs (found in the other major type of scanner).

19 February, 2013

Google Page Rank: Dating Edition


Just an interesting discussion from the weekend:  Applying the Page Rank/Ad Rank equation for Google Ad Words to dating and social settings. As I understand it, the simple formula is   PR=QS x Bid.  That is--- how your Page will Rank for a certain keyword equals the product of what you're willing to bid and the quality score of the page.

Quality score is that closely guarded secret of Google, but it comes down to a lot of factors that we could apply to a real world social situation.  Google looks at technical things like load speed, site architecture, intellectual things like number of inbound links and the quality of the pages linking, and on-page factors like content, its quality, and how fresh or original it is.
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