Most Web workers know the importance of testing usability features when building a website, however, this same strategy should also be implemented when building mobile applications.
Luckily, a new service from mobile experience management (MEM) provider Artisan enables users to do just that. Artisan Optimize, which is the first available product from Artisan and currently in public beta, enables clients to test and modify the user experience of native mobile apps with no coding knowledge required. In fact, the Artisan platform enables non-technical marketers, publishers and merchants to manage, understand and enhance apps without having to resubmit them to app stores.
“The Artisan platform for Mobile Experience Management has come a long way in a very short time,” said CEO Bob Moul. “Early beta testers have now reached full production and are regularly updating their native apps to refine and improve the user experience. This is something that’s never been done before. Retailers, marketers and publishers are gaining unprecedented access not only to audience response, but also to the process of updating mobile apps in a real-time environment. Organizations have an opportunity to unleash the full potential of the mobile app experience, learning which app designs are most effective, and how to improve app development for the strongest performance results.”
Not only does Artisan Optimize enable clients to build and distribute A/B tests to users within an app’s existing audience base, but the platform also collects valuable data from individual app users. It is also important to note that the platform features a “click to install” SDK, which means that it is simple to integrate into applications.
General availability of the platform is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2013, and the company notes that future products will add more capabilities in order to create an environment where mobile experiences can be managed without having to write code, recompile or resubmit applications to app stores. Learn more about Artisan’s services that are scheduled to launch in 2013 below:
Artisan Analyze – This platform will enable clients to understand and track every page view and app event.
Artisan Create – Clients can use this service to design and build the user interface of new native mobile apps.
Artisan Personalize – This solution will give clients the ability to segment and target audiences with personalized app experiences.
Artisan Performance Management – Clients will be able to use this platform to monitor performance and adapt app delivery for the best user experience.
Today marks the century's last day with a repeating date, and there are many ways that you can choose to celebrate this event.
For example, you could order a dozen doughnuts and eat them all before midnight, grab a 12-pack with some friends and watch the Concert for Sandy Relief or simply score a perfect game by bowling 12 consecutive strikes.
However, the typical professional may not have time for the aforementioned activities in between the daily responsibilities of responding to emails and monitoring website traffic. Luckily, Website Magazine has compiled a list of some of the year’s best mobile applications to help digital professionals more efficiently complete tasks, as well as stay in touch with their business while on the move – which leaves more time for celebrating 12-12-12 and other future events. Check out (you guessed it) 12 of the year's top business apps below:
The world’s largest social network focused on improving its mobile offerings in 2012, which included updating its mobile applications, as well as launching a few brand-new apps, such as Facebook Pages Manager. This much-needed app enables users to manage and monitor multiple business profiles while on the go. For example, users can view page insights from the app, post status updates, share photos and reply to private messages. The only downside is that this app is still only available for iOS devices.
If you are craving social metrics while away from your desktop (and there were plenty who did in 2012), consider downloading the free Webtrends’ iPad application. This analytics app offers insights into trending data for sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Users simply need to enter their social account credentials to view an iPad-optimized display of data from their social profiles, including engagement metrics, Klout score and follower numbers. Moreover, Webtrends clients can leverage the app to access their Analytics 10 profiles, which allows them to compare performance metrics across digital channels.
Shipping products to tradeshows or meetings can be a costly expense, but the 3D Product Showcase application from Kaon Interactive seems to solve that problem. This free app, which is designed for the Nexus 7, enables B2B marketers to visually demonstrate multifaceted products directly from their tablet device. Prospects even have the ability to interact with product details thanks to the app’s rotating, zooming and spinning functionality.
Keeping up with leads and daily tasks can be a struggle, but ReachLocal’s mobile application can help lighten the load. This free app is available on both iOS and Android devices, and enables users to manage website and advertising leads from the palms of their hands. Users with a ReachLocal account can leverage the app to view real-time alerts for new calls, emails, Web forms and chats. Furthermore, users can also listen, rate and respond to calls from directly within the app. It is also important to note that the app provides users with detailed reports that include metrics such as impressions, visits, click-through rates and social media engagement.
Advertisers can monitor their search marketing accounts while on the go thanks to the 7Search mobile application. This free Android app provides advertisers with account overviews and also offers functionality for reviewing campaign performance. Additioanlly, campaign managers can pause and activate individual campaigns from within the app, as well as download campaign and keyword reports. Additionally, advertisers can contact their customer support representative by phone or email with the app’s support tab.
Adobe offers many mobile applications that can help make the job of a Web designer a little easier, one of which is the Color Lava app for the iPad. Designers can leverage this $2.99 app to create custom colors and color themes with their fingertips, which, with a network connection, can be accessed in Adobe Photoshop CS5. Moreover, users also have the ability to email custom color creations to friends and colleagues through the app.
The typical professional is distracted multiple times a day during everyday tasks, such as browsing through a newsfeed or sorting through emails. Luckily, apps like Pomodroido are available to help Web workers manage their time better. This free Android app helps users maintain focus by breaking down work periods into 25-minute intervals, which can be adjusted by the user if desired. This app also includes a ranking system, which rewards users based on the work that they complete.
You never know when you may be in dire need of website traffic metrics, which is why the Compete Site Analytics application is a must-download. This free analytics app for iOS devices brings the popular Web measurement platform, Compete, to mobile devices. The app enables users to view traffic data, such as unique visitor numbers, site rank, month-over-month and year-over-year growth for any searched Web property. Furthermore, the app displays a 12-month trended graph of unique visitors for searched sites.
If the other analytic apps on this list don’t satisfy your analytic addiction, you can always try the Google Analytics app. The search engine giant launched an Android application that extends the services of its popular analytics platform to mobile devices. The free app displays the most current metrics and information from a user’s Google Analytics profile, including real-time statistics and customizable dashboards.
Stay connected with colleagues from any location with the Salesforce Chatter application for iOS and Android devices. Users simply need to sign up for a free Chatter account on Chatter.com for access to this enterprise social network. Once a member, users can view co-worker updates, assemble posts, share photos, view documents and links, as well as find and follow people or groups within an organization. Furthermore, the app enables users to email co-workers directly and communicate with colleagues via FaceTime.
It is no secret that visual content, such as images and videos, help increase engagement rates on websites. Finding an elegant way to fit this type of content into a site, however, can be daunting.
Luckily, companies can leverage a new application from Echo and Chute, which enables users to integrate user-generated content into websites and apps. The Chute Media Gallery app is powered by Echo and provides marketers and publishers with a unique way to feature real-time photo walls about any topic on their sites.
“People are producing visual content about brands every day,” said Khris Loux, co-founder and CEO of Echo. “Chute Media Galleries provide an easy and efficient way to instantly harness this content and use it to create engaging, real-time experiences for websites, microsites or as part of marketing and advertising programs.”
The Chute Media Gallery app is currently available in Echo’s App Ecosystem. Users can leverage the app to create photo galleries for a specific hashtag, search term or user account. The photos can be generated from a user’s local harddrive, or from photo sites like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Twitter and Instagram.
It is also important to note that the Echo platform provides Chute's app with a few important capabilities, such as automatic spam filtering and advanced moderation controls. The photos within the galleries are displayed in a pinboard-style layout that includes social features, such as the ability to comment, like or reply to each photo. Additionally, content and updates are featured in real-time, so that pages don’t need to be refreshed.
“This app by Chute is just the latest in a series of apps in our app ecosystem,” said Chris Saad, Echo co-founder. “We invite all developers to work with us to add their apps to the echo app store.”
Social media management just got a whole lot easier.
This is because HootSuite has updated its mobile applications to include Autoschedule functionality, which allows social media managers to automate posting times directly from their mobile device.
This feature is simple to use and will undoubtedly be very helpful to the 3.75 million users who have downloaded Hootsuite’s mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. Users simply need to access the schedule icon after a message has been composed, toggle the Autoschedule switch to “on” and schedule a posting time. Then, the scheduled messages will appear in the Pending Tweets stream.
It is also important to note that aside from Autoschedule, HootSuite launched a few additional updates for its apps, including push notifications, better navigational features for the Android app and an updated iOS layout that is optimized for the iPhone5.
In order to better serve an increasingly global user base, mobile software application developer YUYAO Software implemented major updates to PDF Reader Pro, the universal document solution app.
The biggest change to the application is added support for multiple languages, including German, English, French, Italian, Spanish and both traditional and simplified Chinese.
YUYAO also enhanced user's mobile reading experience by improving the app’s rendering performance and reinforcing the annotation functions, which consists of adding document stamp options and easier use of text annotation selection. Now, users simply tap and slide their fingers over the text they would like to highlight; they can even print out their annotated files for further review outside of the app.
Additionally, PDF Reader Pro still enables users around the world to optimize their workflows by blending all of the app’s features, such as the ability to save documents to PDFs, scan images to PDFs and annotate the signing of PDF forms. These features, in a single solution, are ideal for customers on-the-go and who need to access, browse, edit and share content on a whim.
Keeping up with daily tasks can be difficult enough, but for many small- and medium-sized business owners, keeping up with leads, in addition to daily tasks, can be even more of a struggle.
This is why ReachLocal has launched a new mobile application that enables business owners to manage leads from their website and advertising campaigns while on the go. The app provides users with real-time alerts for new calls, emails, Web forms and chats, as well as enables business owners to listen to, rate and respond to calls from directly within the application.
“With our strong focus on user experience, our team spends a lot of time with clients to understand how they work and what issues they face,” said Kris Barton, Chief Product Officer at ReachLocal. “We knew that many local business owners run their businesses 24x7 from their smartphone, and they wanted to get their leads there too. So we developed the mobile app to give them leads and marketing results in real-time, wherever they are. In addition, we are continuing to add more capabilities to the app so that business owners can truly manage all their marketing from the palms of their hands.”
The online marketing management features in this version include detailed reports with insights for key metrics such as impressions, visits, click-through rates, social media engagements and leads. It is also important to note that the app’s settings can be customized to turn off lead notifications during certain times, such as nights or weekends, and users can also leverage the app to contact the ReachLocal account team if needed.
Mobile commerce is forecasted to reach $31 billion in the U.S. by 2016, which means that merchants have little time to perfect their mobile strategies.
In order to grow a successful retail business, merchants nowadays must create and maintain a strong mobile Web presence. However, not only should traditional websites be optimized for mobile, but merchants should also take advantage of the vast money making opportunities mobile presents by also offering mobile applications to their consumers.
Mobile applications should act as an extension of a retailer’s website, and be a viable channel for consumers to leverage in order to make purchases, search for stores and browse for products.
And while most retailers haven’t fully implemented a mobile strategy yet, some of the biggest names in the industry have, and in doing so they have already set a standard of best practices. Check them out below:
Smartphone and Tablet Optimized
Although having one spectacular app is better than having two mediocre apps, the goal of all merchants should be to offer device specific applications that provide consumers with the best possible user experience. For example, Walgreens offers apps for Blackberry, Android and iOS devices – including an optimized app for both the iPhone and iPad. The iPhone app has a clean and easy to use interface that features 12 options for users to navigate through, while the iPad app offers many of the same features and options but displays them in a different way. With the iPad app, consumers can scroll through three different welcome screens that each feature a different Walgreens service – from refilling prescriptions at the pharmacy to printing out photos or viewing the latest local ad.
Creating a personalized shopping experience has always been a best practice within the retail industry, both on and off the Web – and mobile apps aren’t any different. Many big name retailers, such as Target, Walmart and Amazon, enable consumers to sign in and create a profile so that the check out process is a faster and easier task, and so that consumers can maintain a consistent user experience regardless of the device that they are shopping with. For example, consumers that leverage the Target app on their iPad can customize the app’s background once they sign into their account, as well as create “TargetLists”, which is a feature that enables consumers to create lists of things they need. Additionally, these lists can be viewed offline as well as on any other device once the user is signed into their account.
Simple User Interface
Apps should improve on a company’s mobile website and offer an easier to use and more customizable user experience. If this is not the case, merchants will not obtain as many conversions because most consumers won’t take the time to figure out how a complicated app works. Lowe’s offers a simple yet feature-full iPhone app, which prominently displays a search bar and QR scanner for convenience at the top of the app’s homescreen. The remainder of the homescreen features a July 4th promotion, the ability for users to find a nearby store, an idea gallery and videos – which just so happen to be a proven best practice for boosting engagement and conversions.
Navigation is always important, whether for a traditional or mobile website, or even a mobile application. Not only should merchants feature a fully functional search bar in their app, but they should also offer easy to find buttons for consumers to navigate with. Walmart’s iPad app is very similar to the retail giant’s traditional website. It features an intuitive search bar in the upper right hand corner, as well as offers a list of all departments for users to browse through on the left hand side. Once a department is selected, it is broken down even further into additional categories for consumers to choose from. For instance, once the “Jewelry” department is selected, seven more options under jewelry appear to make locating a desired product, such as a ring, as easy as possible.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to not create a cookie cutter app. Every e-commerce store has its own unique features and offerings, so mobile apps should be created with the same strategy in mind. Whether its featuring a deal of the day on the homepage of your app, or enabling your users to customize the background of the app, unique features are key when trying to implement a mobile application that will truly resonate with consumers. After all, you want an app that will encourage consumers to come back and shop while they are on the bus, waiting for an airplane or even watching TV at home. A few innovative strategies include the ability to track a pizza order via Domino's app, an idea gallery within Lowe’s app that offers home improvement suggestions, and a deals section within the Amazon app that helps consumers who are looking to save a little money.
Content delivery solution developer Solid State Networks has made available its DIRECT 3 digital delivery application platform.
The platform supports various use cases for digital distribution to both consumers and enterprise users, and it has already been employed by some major names in digital content. Video game development company BioWare is already using DIRECT 3 for game deliver and updates, while Adobe has used the platform to deliver its Flash Player and Reader software programs. Other notable users include Hasbro and DigitalRiver.
DIRECT 3 includes native clients for Windows and Mac operating systems, publishing workflow tools and a reporting system. Additional capabilities required by digital delivery applications include versioning, differencing, updating, advanced proxy support, real-time delivery logistics, dynamic payload assembly and secure integration with a publisher’s back-end system or third-party service.
New services for DIRECT 3, as well as support for other operating systems, will be announced later this year.
Thanks to modern technology, professionals can conduct meetings and collaborate from seemingly anywhere. Mobile sales and collaboration solutions provider MightyMeeting is attempting to take it to the next level with a recent update to its iOS application.
The MightyMeeting app was built to help Web professionals conduct online meetings and deliver presentations face-to-face directly from their iPhone and/or iPad devices, and these new updates will now support nearcasting and voice conferencing, among other things.
The app offers support for images, documents and spreadsheets in addition to presentations and demo videos, allowing users to manage, share and present materials from their mobile devices. It will now also provide a team meeting option so attendees can take turns presenting content from their devices, which was designed to help share news and updates among groups that have a mix of local and remote attendants. Users will even be able to create a list of “Favorite” files, and then others can access and save those files locally on their individual device for offline access.
The biggest update, however, is support for nearcast meetings, which lets up to 16 devices quickly connect in a peer-to-peer network to share presentations, demo videos and much more. Nearcast works over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and can also be used to share content even without an Internet connection.
Finally, voice conferencing will be coming to the application, allowing meeting attendants to join remotely from any part of the world. Like nearcast, this feature will work over Wi-Fi with no additional long distance or data usage fees.
Mobile isn’t going away any time soon, which poses a lot of questions for retailers looking to optimize their brand's mobile experience for consumers.
While options such as geo-location apps or mobile compatible websites are good ones, a different possibility is rising in popularity among retailers – in-store apps.
According to a recent survey of retail executives that was commissioned by mobile commerce solution provider AisleBuyer, only 14 percent of respondents currently have a mobile app. However, 50 percent of those that don’t have a mobile app are planning on introducing a shopping app in 2012.
Among the group of retailers planning on introducing a shopping app, 54 percent plan to include promotion functionality as part of the app, while 24 percent plan to add mobile self-checkout, and 46 percent plan to introduce a tablet-based mobile store associate app for employees.
“Retailers clearly view mobile as the key to enhancing the in-store experience,” says Andrew Paradise, AisleBuyer’s CEO. "From mobile self-checkout to equipping store associates with tablets, the survey data validates the major shift we are seeing in the use of mobile in stores. Mobile apps provide retailers with a wealth of previously unavailable information on in-store shopper behavior that will ultimately improve revenue, profitability and customer loyalty.”