May 16, 2012

3 steps to a successful mobile website


Image by rzymu on BigStockPhoto.com

Plan for a mobile site that meets your strategic needs

This is the first of a two-part series on the mobile Web. Tomorrow:
The Ultimate Mobile Web Infographic

Target audience: Mid-size and small businesses, Web publishers, mobile developers, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists, general public.

Deltina HayAs we’ve been saying, the time has come for you to offer your readers a mobile version of your website in one form or another.

But before leaping in and creating a mobile website just because you need one, pull back and plan for a mobile site that meets your customer’s needs, fulfills your business objectives, and integrates the features you need now and in the future.

Here are some guidelines to help you plan a successful mobile website:

Plan for user expectations

1In a previous post, we discussed how people use the mobile Web. Mobile device users already know what they want when they get to a mobile website, and are more likely to take action once they get there. To plan for this type of user behavior, answer the following questions about potential visitors to your mobile site:

Include features on your mobile site that will encourage mobile users to share your content, contact your business, access your social media sites & find your business
  • Why are they most likely coming to your site?
  • What information are they most likely seeking?
  • What types of actions are they most likely to take?

Continue reading

May 10, 2012

UppSite: Turn your website into an app in minutes

JD LasicaAfew days ago I sat down with Gal Brill, the founder and CEO of UppSite, an Israel-based start-up that can turn your website into an app in just minutes. At top is a video UppSite produced about their service, and at bottom is my interview with Gal.

As the Web turns increasingly mobile — with a majority of online Americans set to access the Internet through their mobile devices rather than their desktop or laptop computers within a couple of years — any sensible Web publisher should be thinking about how to optimize his or her site for mobile users.

“We’re democratizing the mobile era for any publisher.”
— CEO Gal Brill

I’ve written about a few such services, including WPTouch Pro (Have you made your site mobile-ready?) and OnSwipe (Make your site ‘swipeable’ on the iPad). But UppSite is the first service to come along that can turn any website or blog into an app — on the iPhone or Android — for free, in a matter of minutes. That’s pretty cool. (A Windows Mobile version is coming in a few months.)

Watch, download or embed our video interview on YouTube.

CEO Brill likens UppSite’s entry into the marketplace as akin to WordPress’s disruption of the blogging world, when it make it drop-dead simple to get a blog up and running in 5 minutes. UppSite’s mission is to help you enter the mobile era “in a truly easy way,” he says. In the coming years, he hopes and expects millions of sites — particularly small or mid-size publications — to do so.

“We’re democratizing the mobile era for any publisher,” he says.

A cross-platform solution that actually works

Up until now, online publishers have had to deal with the nightmare of developing and maintaining applications for each separate operating system: iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, Windows Phone 7 and so on. Not only that, you’d be out of luck in some cases, depending on whether your site runs on WordPress, Blogger, Drupal, etc. While other services often offer little more than a prettified version of an RSS feed, UppSite promises native apps that offer a complete version of your site, with all of the important content and functionality. Continue reading

February 6, 2012

TaskRabbit: Crowdsourcing comes to your neighborhood

A mobile marketplace for getting stuff done from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Start-up offers location-aware marketplace for getting stuff done

JD LasicaOne of my favorite new iPhone apps and online services is TaskRabbit, a platform that allows people to hire other people to complete tasks in their own towns or neighborhoods.

The concept is drop-dead simple but difficult to pull off. Founder Leah Busque says TaskRabbit lets folks “outsource small jobs and tasks to other people in their neighborhood” — say, if you need dry cleaning or groceries picked up, house cleaning or yard work done, Ikea furniture assembled or a wifi system set up in your home.

“We’ve seen some really funny ones,” Leah said, “like, ‘Help me write a love letter to my ex-girlfriend to help win her back.’ Or, ‘Help me prank my office mate by wrapping all of his desk items in cellophane.'”

Here’s my 8-minute interview with founder Leah Busque on Vimeo.

A simple way to connect customers with a local workforce

TaskRabbit works like this:

• Sign up on the site for free.

• Post a task — what do you need done and at what price? Use the app to voice-record a description and upload photos.

• The task goes out to participants (“TaskRabbits”) based on their location. They bid on your job, you confirm the best match, he or she goes to work, and TaskRabbit gets a small cut of the price.

Well over 2,000 people have signed up to perform tasks in Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, San Antonio and Austin, with Atlanta, Dallas and Houston on the way. The company’s vetting process includes online applications, video interviews and a background check, which greatly weeds out the flakes (my term, not hers). Trust, safety and security are at the heart of the marketplace, Leah says.

Unlike online services like Angie’s List, TaskRabbit is not marketing the services of licensed electricians, plumbers and carpenters but instead is targeting regular folks — individuals in a community who can offer their free time, special skills and services.

TaskRabbit has 35 full-time staffers at its San Francisco headquarters with “city managers” across the United States, and it has $24.7 million in financial backing, TechCrunch reports.

In a phrase, TaskRabbit is about service networking rather than social networking. Check ‘em out.

Related

Do you have a strategy for social bookmarking and crowdsourcing?

Book: ‘A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing’

July 6, 2011

What kind of Web 3.0 world should we make?

Reid Hoffman
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman (photo by JD Lasica)

Reid Hoffman on pervasive data and how it will impact business in the future

Christopher S. RollysonIn addition to being the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman is a Silicon Valley insider with rich insight into technology trends, markets and building companies.

I attended his presentation at SxSW, where his main message was that the future was bearing down on us, and he prophesied that it would “arrive sooner and be stranger than we think.”

  • He painted the context for his theme, “Web 3.0 as data,” with this timeline:
    • Web 1.0 was a low bandwidth environment in which individuals searched for files online (and on demand). The concept of “cyberspace” was separate from the “real” world. It was an anonymous world in which many people participated as animes.
    • Web 2.0 was a shift in which people increasingly participated with their real identities (MySpace notwithstanding), and the online world became increasingly integrated with the offline world. Social networks mapped social graphs (again, with real people), and most people blogged as themselves. Online became firmly embedded in offline life, as a way to help manage and navigate by using reviews and other buying tools. Wikileaks and the current revolutions in the Middle East are part of this larger trend.
    • Web 3.0 is mostly to do with the massive amounts of active and passive data we are generating. An example of passive data is phone calls from mobile devices. Bandwidth is increasing, which enables video, audio and graphic sharing and data. Hoffman advocates thinking hard about it and acting to protect data. Think about what kind of future we want to create.
  • Web 3.0’s data introduces significant risks to privacy because every transaction, passive and active, is linked to our real identities. Mobile device transactions are constantly tracked, and this is relevant because they are tied to real identities.
  • Hoffman’s biggest fear is how governments could use information to control people. Governments are organizations that are closest to what he called “pure power” (because they integrate information, legal authority and military/police power). They can mine email, text and all other digital data to learn anyone’s social graph.
  • Unlike corporations, government is not incented to care for citizens; he implied it is less accountable. Continue reading
April 22, 2011

Scenes from the Where 2.0 mobile conference

JD LasicaI caught a fair chunk of the Where 2.0 conference yesterday in Santa Clara, Calif., plus part of Tuesday’s sessions. I think it’s fair to say this is the best annual gathering of thought leaders in the mobile space — people from the future who beam to bring us up to speed on where this whole mobile revolution is taking us.

Here’s my modest Flickr photo set of 14 images.

I got to spend some time with two of the rock stars of the mobile world: Di-Ann Eisnor, VP Community of the cool beat-traffic-jams app Waze, and DJ Patil (another initial guy), chief product officer of the hot startup Color (and former chief scientist of LinkedIn). which recently raked in $41 million in venture backing.

I’m always impressed by the visual eye candy at Where 2.0 and this gathering was no exception. Check out the 90-second clip above, Waze Presents: An LA Traffic Story (music), which visually represents a 24-hour time lapse of traffic congestion, accidents, police activity and more in Los Angeles, based on the automatic GPS tracking in the Waze app as well as reports by Waze members. Fun!

Some other highlights from Where 2.0

Serendipity panel
Alexa Andrzejewski of Foodspotting, Jyri Engestrom of Ditto, Di-Ann Eisnor of Waze.

I didn’t get to all the sessions I wanted to, but here are a few other highlights and takeaways:

• Good to meet the folks behind SeeClickFix, a site that lets people report community problems to local government, and one that I’ve admired for some time.

“We’re getting to the things scale and person scale, with almost everything being able to have a unique identifier associated with it — even plants and animals. Then the whole conversation changes.”
— Jyri Engeström, Ditto

• My favorite new toy: the GroupMe app, a group messaging service for ad hoc groups of friends, family, co-workers, college buddies. Says co-founder Steve Martocci: “It’s like a it’s like a reply all chat room on your phone. … This is a very intimate tool that’ll buzz everyone’s pocket.” Yowza!

• 40 percent of ratings on Yelp is coming in through mobile devices. Yelp now has 50 million unique visits per month in eight countries.

• One out of every 10 Israelis (not just drivers) uses Waze.

Localmind is a new service that allows you to send questions and receive answers about what is going on — right now — at places you care about. If it scales, this would be an awesome service.

• Loved this quote from Jyri Engeström of Ditto (just downloaded the app: “Looking to hang out? Find out what your friends are up to, have a conversation, or get a group together. Ditto makes it easy to get recommendations about restaurants, movies and things to do.”):

“A lot of the conversation that goes on at conferences like Where 2.0 is based on the assumption that we’re talking about places and buildings. But the resolution of social objects is getting higher and higher so we’re getting to the things scale and person scale, with almost everything being able to have a unique identifier associated with it — even plants and animals. Then the whole conversation changes.”

• Raffi Krikorian of Twitter: “People want to say ‘I’m in Vegas, baby!’ without giving away their exact location.” His hourlong talk about the different tiers of “local” was fascinating. I was also digging terms like “geohash.” And: “The holy grail of geo-location is to use some kind of GPS triangulation.” Follow him on Twitter at @raffi.

• Jack Abraham, Director of Local at eBay: “Any product that can be digitally distributed, will be.” He noted there were 465 million active IP addresses in 2009 and that number continues to balloon. Also: ecommerce still makes up only 5 percent of all commerce in the United States. Continue reading

February 2, 2011

Social businesses: Glimmers of a macro trend


Social Business Design (CC image by Dachis Group)

Annual look at the best strategies, tactics, case studies & insights in the enterprise space

Christopher RollysonCompared to 2009 and 2008, the past year was a relatively calm one because the amplitude of market gyrations clearly diminished and businesses began to find a new floor on which to build stakeholder expectations. Although I watched with high interest the unfolding financial drama in Europe, I didn’t have the time to conduct the research necessary to do a rigorous interpretation, although I published a brief reflection last week. The big story of the past year was this: 2010 marked a turning point in the adoption of social technologies and in the recognition that analysis and strategy are necessary to achieve consistent results with social initiatives.

Macro trends: Moving from broadcast to relationship building

Until recently, being on Facebook was an end in itself, agencies produced vapid content and little interaction occurred because people rarely interact when brands are talking at them instead of listening

Social has been in adolescence until recently — “being on Facebook” was an end in itself, agencies produced vapid content and little interaction happened because people rarely interact when brands are talking at them instead of listening. People feel it when a brand is interested in using social tools to promote itself. They also feel it when a brand is interested in building relationship, which is marked by active listening and responding, along with a relative absence of self-promotion. Brands that build relationship learn that they don’t have to try so hard to promote themselves: when they are truly interested in people, people will promote them. However, this approach remains a future state for most companies. Relationships take serious work — thus, a need for a strategy.

The growing use of strategy is also a harbinger for what I call “social business” (a step beyond social media), in which leaders use social technologies to transform their businesses by collaborating openly with various outside and inside stakeholders to innovate constantly. Early movers will begin emerging this year: Only a few gutsy players will aggressively adopt social business practices in 2011. I believe they can change markets.

Continue reading