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Conference Presentation

We’re back from HighEdWeb and life is slowly getting back to normal.  We had a great trip, and the reception to our presentation was beyond our expectations.   For those who haven’t been to the conference site to get the slides, I’m making them available for view here.  Be sure to look at the Notes section as well, as those contain many of our talking points to accompany the slides.

For those who don’t want to go through the whole thing I’ll recap some of the primary points here:

  • Mobile devices are the future, you must start developing for them now or be left behind.
  • Which is better mobile app or mobile web?  – There is not right answer, they are different technologies with different purposes.  Focus instead on the content and experience that you want to deliver to your user, and then choose the platform that best delivers that experience.
  • The biggest advantage to apps is it’s ability to access hardware features (GPS, camera, etc.) and this will be where the app shines in the future.
  • The biggest advantage of mobile web is that is is HTML that you already have the skillset to create, and because it is online Google will be a powerful friend in getting your content out to the world.
  • The speed at which smart phones have been adopted has changed the landscape.  Apps are no longer the “sexy,” “cool,” “must have” thing that they were a year ago.  CSS and Javascript allow mobile websites to fill that role now, allowing apps to evolve into higher-end elements. Embrace this change, don’t spend time and money building an app that can be done faster and easier with a website.
  • That being said, people like being able to just “hit a button” and pull up the information in an app without having to type in a URL into a browser.
  • The evolution of app and website brings us back to the concept that “content is king.”  Every time we get a new technology we go through a cycle of forgetting this, only to have it  re-assert itself once the platform us uniformly adopted.
  • Think of air travel or cruises a generation ago – they were top of the line travel that everyone dressed up for. Now they are considered run of the mill and we wear t-shirts and flip flops.  Similarly, back in the 1990s everyone wanted a personal website to post pictures of their cat – today we get our cats Facebook accounts and post hundreds of pictures.  In another few years nobody will care about mobile web vs. mobile app, they will just want their content. We need so start preparing  for that mindset now.
  • Design for all mobile devices, not just high-end smartphones.  Graceful degradation/progressive enhancement will allow you to target the upper end phones with nice displays while still allowing the content to be ready by everyone.
  • Several years ago we complained about “best viewed in IE” on websites – we can’t now turn around and produce sites “best viewed in webkit.”
  • When you design a mobile site, present it in a standard navigational layout rather than building something of your own.  Lists and iPhone-style icons are the accepted norms, don’t make your users think by giving them something new.
  • Mobile sites will get a lot of hits from desktop users because they are lean and easy to navigate.  Embrace these users and don’t redirect them away from the content.
  • “The user IS mobile, not just HOLDING one.”  – Make this the foundation of your mobile strategy.  You are not just designing for a device that has different capabilities. The mobile user has different needs and expectations from a desktop user, give them the content they need.
  • “Making a mobile website is not the same as making your website mobile.”  You should give your traditional website mobile-friendly styles, but that isn’t enough.  You really need a separate website that caters to the mobile users’ needs.
  • Think outside the box in content to add.  As well as things like bus routes and dining menus, we found the About Us a popular destination one day when our football team was on national television.  Users didn’t even get up to go to the other room and look us up, they did it from their phones while still watching the game.
  • Look for partners across campus – when Transportation Services added our URL to their bus signs traffic to the site doubled overnight.
  • Mobile devices are changing so rapidly that the standard 2-year cycle we use on our desktop sites is simply too long. We must be constantly looking at how to evolve our mobile sites.

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Friday, October 15th, 2010 design, Mobile Web 2 Comments

Cincinnati Bound

John and I are heading to Cincinnati tomorrow for HighEdWeb conference, along with several others from around campus.  We will be giving a presentation on mobile website development, so let me thank those of you who have joined us in our mobile effort, your part is much appreciated. When we get back I’ll post our presentation and notes of interest from the other topics we pick up while there.

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Friday, October 8th, 2010 Miscellaneous, Mobile Web No Comments

Summer Conferences

We have gotten our approvals and everything is now in order for our conference linup for this year.  I will be attending EduWeb in Chicago this July and both John and I will be at HighEdWeb in October. I am thankful that we will be able to have a presence at both of these conferences and have the opportunity to interact with colleagues from our fellow universities around the country.  John and I have also sent in a proposal to present a session at HighEdWeb and are anxiously awaiting word on its approval.

Those of you who are attending either event, drop us a line to let us know you’ll be there. We would love to meet up and compare notes.  We had a good group in Milwaukee last year with some great after-hours conversations.

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Monday, May 3rd, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Welcome (Back) to Aggieland

After a being gone a week for the HighEdWeb09 conference, John and I returned to the office today to wade through the issues that have popped up and start reviewing our thoughts from the conference.

While there was plenty of great information in the conference tracks, the bulk of the value to me came from interaction with other schools, seeing how they deal with many of the same issues we deal with, and comparing how successful our methodologies are in comparison.  Overall I think we’re in pretty good shape.  We obviously don’t compare to the nation’s elite, but that’s only a matter of funding and support.  Several conversations confirmed that we’re on the right track with our projects, so look for us to continue fighting to do things right.

We do have some infrastructural projects to take care of, but look for us soon to give you an idea of where we’re looking at going.

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Monday, October 12th, 2009 Future Projects, Miscellaneous No Comments

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