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posted by Mark Mark
Mobile friendly websites

Did you know that by 2014, the number of mobile Internet users will surpass the number of users browsing the Internet via a desktop computer? Its true, the number of mobile devices with Internet access has simply exploded over the last few years and forecasters expect the number of mobile devices accessing the Internet to surpass the one billion mark over the next four years (in fact some say as soon as 2013).

This has profound effects on the way we are approaching client projects. If your website is not mobile friendly you're loosing out (just as I mentioned in our previous post regarding email marketing).

There are a number of ways to cater for mobile devices. One way is to create separate versions, one for the PC and one for the Smartphone. Another way is to have a single version that dynamically responds to whatever you are using to browse the website. This technique is referred to as "Responsive Layout" and we recently released a website that makes use of it.

I wont go into technicalities right now but if you have a moment check it out and see what happens when you resize your browser window from large to small.

“Watch in amazement as the content responds to the browser window orientation and rearranges itself to fit the available space” ;-)

This way, whether you are on a phone, tablet or computer you see the same website optimised for your screen. Funky yes!?

posted by Khurram Khurram

If you've worked with Blue Beetle recently, there's a good chance the topic of "usability" has come up more than once. That's because, like many of our counterparts, we believe it's a trait that no serious online marketer can afford to ignore – in the same league as search engine optimization or compatibility across different browsers.

Most clients understand this intuitively: the easier it is for people to move around your website and find what they're looking for, the more likely they are to decide to do business with you. The difficulty isn't in seeing the value of usability, but putting it in practice.

What's needed is a way to add features to an existing online platform, without having to sacrifice speed and performance for your visitors.
As it turns out, there is a tool that does exactly that. It's called AJAX, which stands for asynchronous JavaScript and XML. While I'm sure that clears up the issue for those of you who spend your leisure hours looking through web design articles, maybe I should point out that in the real world, that basically means that AJAX allows your website to run more like a desktop application would – cleanly and seamlessly by displaying portions data dynamically, instead of refreshing the entire page when loading new data from the server.

The result isn't just an improvement in usability... it's a whole new chapter. By changing content and adding resources as your visitors input information, AJAX lets them read, shop, and navigate with a level of data and responsiveness that wouldn't have been possible a few years ago.

For your website to be helpful to your visitors – not to mention profitable for you – it needs to have a high level of usability, and there's no better way to achieve that in this day and age than using AJAX.

posted by Mark Mark
What we Can Learn About W3C Standards From the American Wild West

If television and movies have taught us anything about history, it's that the old American West was a place "without law." Drinking, gambling, and gun fights in the street were the symptoms of towns that seemed to have sprung up from nothing – the result of a mad gold rush that attracted entrepreneurial types from all over the world.

While the idea of saloons full of marshals, cowboys, and horse thieves might be overplayed for entertainment value, the concept of places being built from nothing actually gives us an interesting parallel to the development of the online business community. In the first days, there were sparse settlers setting up shops in camps at any URL they could find. Over time, though, areas have become crowded, complex communities have formed, and yes, laws are coming.

In this case, we aren't talking about political laws, but accepted standards of the way sites should be designed and arranged. The World Wide Web Consortium (WC3), an international group of designers and consultants, is moving towards a set of universal guidelines that would serve as a kind of guide to best practices in layout and coding.

This might seem like a bit of a reach, given that the online community can be ferociously independent, but it actually represents change in a good way.

Just as laws and standards eventually came as a relief to the American West – few people enjoyed the prospect of being shot in Cheyenne or Abilene – uniform standards on the web will make pages safer and more accessible for everyone. By creating a handful of common tools, they mean that pages from all parts of the world will become easier to find and use by anyone, regardless of their hardware, operating system, or local provider.

Why should you care? Because usability is a close cousin of profitability; the more people who can view and navigate your site, the more potential buyers you can reach effectively. As more and more communities go online, and next-generation mobile devices spread like wildfire, WC3 standards are going to help smart marketers expand their reach.

The "law" might not be coming to the web, but standards are. Making your site work within them might not be mandatory, but it is going to be a good business decision.

April 2014
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