web development

I noticed the article in my headlines from Netted, a digital media treasure chest of content which I discovered during Internet Week. Intrigued, I took the browser for a spin.  I am liking the drive thus far. I’m talking about the browser coming from the developers of RockMelt.  RockMelt is a browser that smoothly integrates the UI experience on many levels. The interface can be navigated with simple drags across to your Application Feed, where you can upload your social media accounts. This panel, known as the Feed Edge, updates your content stream similar to an RSS aggregator. One swipe and click leads you into a new tab for page views. The browser application is available for PC or Mac, completing a Beta 3 relaunch today. Users may be reminded of Google Chrome and Firefox in their navigation, but this one is much more streamlined.  

It’s link shortener is better than Bre.ad as well, who now has my scorn for poor account integration.  I’ve had trouble loggin in using a Facebook account and using my email account. Their smart brand strategy is being wasted right now. Hopefully they can make adjustments.

My one caveat with RockMelt is the close integration with Facebook could annoy users who use other content distributors.  The Developers vouch for Facebook because of its endless personal data reservoir. Fair enough.  I also thought the search query box was a little cumbersome as you have to open a new tab to enter Google and see content clearly.

Those quibbles aside, RockMelt is a social media browser perfect for those who push endless content around the web.  Click on the image for a download and test drive. Over here, CEO Eric Vishria talks with Bloomberg Radio about the experience.

 

Web designers are now using the help of new HTML5 and CSS3 for creating wonderful designs with impressive features. With the increased use of mobile devices for accessing websites, design of mobile web pages is on the rise these days. The recent web design and development trends include a variety of added features with the help of advanced technologies. If anyone planning to start an online business or taking a brick-and-mortar shop online, then designing a website is the first step. So how to get started with the design of web pages, also keeping abreast of recent trends? Everyone continues to move forward to the next level when they master the skill of designing pages. It is important to focus on the idea of each and every trend before you decide on how to incorporate the latest trends in designing web pages.

Here is a small list of latest trends that are widely used:

Sketching designs
Hand drawn designs
Typography
Custom fonts
Huge headers
Large banner images
One page layout designs
Minimalist approach
Oversized logos, headers and footers
Model boxes
Interactive pages
Magazine layouts for blog pages
Shadow effects

Hope all these latest trends will have a lasting impression on the visitor.

E-commerce websites are mainly designed to sell products and their success is very essential for better business results. When designing and developing an e-commerce website, a designer has to face so many challenges in order to deliver the best of all. Hence, it is very essential to analyze all the areas of the process to ensure delivery of a good product. E-commerce is a unique topic in online business with various beneficial features, including global audience reach, high standards, user interaction, valuable information, and customization.

There are a range of essential factors that influence the look and feel of e-commerce websites. The top features include quick & easy navigation, product related simple design for increased visibility of product, effective branding, specific product images, displaying related or recommended products, listing popular products, offers & discounts, simple checkout process, and complete website search option.  

The navigation of product pages should be carefully designed with more options for the users to locate the product easily.  This feature of the site requires thorough user experience testing to ensure all navigational issues are addressed properly. With the help of some simple design approaches, the site will give better visibility to the product, as selling is the key point of any e-commerce website. For better performance of the website, the design should be related to the style of products available and thus making a direct connection with the brand.

Your firm should include product specific photos, especially in different angles.  This will help the user get a feel of the product and to make an easy purchasing decision. They should also make use of the homepage and help the users to find something really interesting by adding offers, popular products, new arrivals and other discounts. Displaying a list of related products on the product details page to the user may result in increased sales of those products as well and serves as a promotional tool for similar products. Users may find it difficult to land with the particular product of their interest even with good navigation, so in order to avoid this and help them gain easy access to the product, it is advised to include search box with range of options.

In total, e-commerce websites with all the above good features provides advantages for small and medium businesses in developing countries reducing operational costs and increasing efficiency.

The developers at Smashing Magazine are versed in all programs and the transient dynamics of code.  Nobody can keep up, and that’s just factual.  We all know, however, that two sides exist to every coin, even the Canadian ones.  As Niels Matthijs notes, developers can slip up and make errors.  He feels that naming conventions and constructing better HTML templates will translate into better websites.  I’ll highlight a sample of subtopics for the uninitiated.

The Bare Necessities Of Semantics

Nowadays with Google Caffeine, content must be recognizable to all kinds of crawlers and search engines for full SEO optimization.  The engine just debuted, so its effectiveness must be intensely tracked in order to make a proper assessment. If Google Caffeine hits, then surfing the internet will be a much greater experience and e-commerce stands to benefit.

Think Components, Not Pages

Websites should have common components that fit together than a jangled collection of pages. In order to achieve this feat, developers need to focus on a single component at a time.  When one needs to write the HTML code for a product, check each wireframe for product variations.  Then one can write a code that handle the existing variants.  This model will be solid and can be used anywhere.

For more information on semantics, click the photo.

Gizmodo hosted streaming coverage of the Iphone OS 4 presentation.  Here’s a list of the new features, courtesy of John Herrman.  The key ones to note are the multitasking function and folders option:

• Multitasking: It’s here, finally. It’s handled with a simple task switcher: double click your home button, and you get a list of running apps. Select, switch, done. Multitasking is limited to audio, VoIP (Skype!) and GPS apps.

• Fast app switching: With iPhone 4’s multitasking, most apps aren’t actually running in the background—just certain functions of the app, like an audio stream or a GPS lock. But! All apps can now be frozen, in full, so that when you reopen them, they’re restored to exactly the state they were in when they were closed.

Per-app SMS and alerts: Notifications can be sent from apps on the phone, not just remote services. In other words, if something important happens in an app you’ve opened and navigated away from, a notification will pop up in whatever app you’re using at the time.

• App folders: Now you can sort your apps into folders! That’s homscreen clutter solved, then.

• A new Mail App: Unified inboxes! Multiple Exchange accounts! Fast inbox switching! Threaded messages! This is actually a huge deal, since the iPhone’s mail client has barely changed since launch in 2007.

iBooks: Oh hey, that iBooks ebook reader app and accompanying store from the iPad has ambled on down to the iPhone. Nice, since you can now take your books with you wherever you go, as oppose to wherever you go with your iPad.

• Custom Backgrounds: Jailbreakers have them. Hell, the iPad has them. Now you can choose a persistent background for your iPhone—and not just for the lockscreen.

• 5x digital zoom: Could this hint at a higher quality camera? 3.2 megapixels seems a bit low for 5x digital zoom.

• Tap to focus video

• Bluetooth keyboards: Another carryover from the iPad, Bluetooth keyboard support will finally come to iPhone 4.0.

A recent development that will turn digital marketing heads is the iAd. The application gives developers the opportunity to merge web interaction and television’s moods with HTML5. Advertisers can easily tailor mobile applications for segmentation.  A beta version can be purchased right now, but iPhone OS 4 will ship this summer for iPhone and iPod touch. The iPad will be upgraded in the fall.

(c) photo copywright, mobilecrunch.com, 2010

In any creative enterprise, we reach a block where nothing fresh and genuine comes to our senses.  As an interactive marketing firm, Blueliner looks at endless channels to create innovative content that will increase traffic and improve our development techniques.  Boagworld.com posted an interesting topic back in Winter 2009, pressing web developers to take a step outside the box, so to speak.  They look at various websites who create poster templates of kinetic styles.  Here’s one from The Kitschen Sink, who use a pulp movie theme to sell jewelry and accessories.  Click here to visit the site.

Smashing Magazine is an outstanding source of web design news and link for building the best web page possible.  It also provides valuable tutorials, such as this one.  Cameron Chapman discusses how to use color in a multi-part series called “Color Theory for Designers”.  He takes an exploratory view on color’s subjective nature and how the right color scheme can affect your digital strategy in terms of traffic, brand development, and ultimately, brand equity.  This feature can provide some invaluable feedback on Blueliner’s future direction with web development.  Take a look.

Over the last couple of years, Blueliner presents a seminar highlighting web design trends that are emerging and cementing themselves.  The presentation has caught fire on Slideshare via Facebook. Take a look.

Morningside is a leading agency for worldwide translators and legal professionals. When the project initially began, Morningside had a website resembling a small paper brochure. The corporate culture also reflects a rather humble ethos and emphasizes their personable relationships with clients. The agency, however, is a proud member of many large associations and an international corporate sponsor of industry events. The website did not properly convey their rich portfolio of services ranging from translation, interpretation, and transcription.

Dali Singh and Adam Mustafa were the project manager and creative director for Blueliner.  They worked with the Morningside executives to redevelop the brand and optimize its potential for internet traffic revenue.  Blueliner’s specialization in Web 2.0 and the 7 Pillars of Marketing brought major improvements.  First, the logo was adjusted to reflect their mission of global reach and expertise in translations and legal services.  Blueliner also used bold, crisp photos, and color variation along with wider layouts in order to stimulate consumer interest.

Morningside also wanted to target new clients on the web.  In the past, their strategic model was predominantly cold telemarketing.  Blueliner implemented their SEO methodology with the guidance of a lead copywriter to improve their search potential on the major engines.  The information scope was expanded from 10 to 80 web pages, generating higher ROI metrics.  A social media panel was also installed on the website to update clients on news within and outside the agency on a real-time basis with links to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Experience the new website here.

Growing up in New York City in the 1980s, my friends and I had terminology for something that we considered cool or fascinating – “that’s mint!” we would say. Well, bringing new meaning to the term, mint.com is simply one of the best website interfaces that I have seen, from all key fronts that define excellent websites – branding, design layout, functionality and usability. Mint.com reflects Web 2.0 at its best! Here is why. This is something that you just have to experience.  More websites should leave that impression – that the user had an experience rather than just another website visit.  Of course, it takes masterful information architecture, user interface expertise and web 2.0 programming skill to do so!

Mint, like all great software, makes a complicated process seem easy. Managing your money through software like Quicken, Microsoft Money or directly via your online banking website, hardly compares to the effortless and intuitive interface of Mint. It simply works in a way that gives the user flexibility. In terms of managing your finances, that is a whole separate reason why you should use Mint, which I talk about in blog post on 401kid.com/blog.

Mint is free…for now. I am sure that they will find ways to offer premium services and through the analysis of your spending habits, start offering discounts and special offers around those trends.

High Conversion Website

Simplicity and minimalism is the feeling that you get from Mint’s interface, which is a consistent theme from the home page through to your detailed financial statements.

Mint.com Home Page

Mint.com Home Page

Usability

When you log in to Mint, the Dashboard gives you extremely useful information, such as where you stand with your monthly budgets, what your current account balances are. Downloading accounts and information from my various banks, including a company expense account, took less than 5 minutes.

Mint.com Dashboard

Mint.com Dashboard

Some key Web 2.0 features worth noting:

  1. The budget line moves each day, to show you not only what the dollar amounts currently are for whatever budget categories you setup, but to show whether you are on or ahead of pace. They did not have this feature last time I logged in – pleasant surprise!
  2. I can see my monthly income statement, to see whether I’m up or down, cash flow wise, each month.
  3. Now I can create my own categories, which was limited before. Another great new feature and a hallmark of good web 2.0 development – listening to customers and constantly improving the software.
  4. Key charges and upcoming recurring expenses show in the dashboard.
  5. Customizable mobile and/or email alerts, such as “Notify me when this account goes under $1,000″ or “when I exceed my Shopping budget for the month”.

Branding

The branding is light and ‘minty’ fresh. They utilize the term “mint” well as part of the brand message “refreshing money management”, and “All the news that fit to mint” in the Mint blog, which also includes tips on how to better utilize Mint, financial education advice (mint.edu: know and grow your money) and content from partners such as fool.com.

Mint Blog Header

Mint Blog Header

Web 2.0 Execution

When I look at Mint.com, I cannot say enough. It is clear to see that someone (likely some VCs and the Founders themselves) invested wisely and someone else (likely the Founders with a group of highly competent web 2.0 warriors) executed well. Much respect to Mint.com, for the company’s vision, domain knowledge, initial execution and continuous evolution. May the rest of us take good notes. I know it’s not the 80s and that I’m not in high school anymore, but I just can’t help saying “This is one MINT website!”