If you’ve heard anything about software development in the last five years, you’ve probably heard someone talk about “knowing your user” or “putting the user first”. The massive growth of Apple in the last decade has shone a massive spotlight on relentless user focus and has caused developers at companies large and small to re-think their priorities and put usability first. However, if knowing your user is so important, what do you do when you don’t know or have anything in common with your user?
Recently, we were approached and hired to develop an application for a group of users that fits that description perfectly: non-tech savvy grandmothers and grandfathers. The gist of the app is to make it easier for them to access a specific kind of content that they have on their computers easily and quickly on their smartphones. What makes this task so interesting is that it’s not about facilitating them to do something they can’t already do: a user with any amount of tech savvy could accomplish this task with relative ease. It’s about making it so somebody with almost NO knowledge of the technology they’re using can transfer and easily access this content with getting overly frustrated.
This task is 100% about knowing your user and catering to their needs by making existing technology more useable. The problem is, I’m a developer, capable of not only using difficult applications, but creating them from scratch. I pride myself on being a mid-adopter who is in touch with his “how I open Word again?” roots, but going into the project I found myself wondering if I really could adequately put myself in the shoes of someone who thinks opening Safari just opens Google and that Firefox opens the Internet.
So I did the only thing I could do: I talked to my own grandmother, creator of the aforementioned “Safari=Google” theory. She told me about using her computer and what she hates about it, and it was eye opening. She hates the updates and the clutter. She only wants to send and receive email, check her bank account, and use Google and that’s it. If there were 3 icons on her screen: Email with just an in and out box, her bank account, and Google that would be perfect. So even though she CAN access those 3 things from any web browser that exists, that’s not really sufficient: it’s not easy enough and browsers are too cluttered with, well, the internet.
My eyes opened, I now undertake the task of making her vision of simplicity and ease of access a reality, at least for one type of content. Wish me luck (I’m going to need it).
Shockoe is getting excited about the upcoming CODESTRONG conference and so should you!
This year’s conference will take place from Oct 21st – Oct 23rd at the beautiful InterContinental Hotel San Francisco. CODESTRONG is a great opportunity to connect with the best developers from around the world and learn best practices in mobile development. If you are not already familiar with Appcelerator’s Titanium platform, then this is a great place to learn from professionals about all the advantages Titanium has to offer its developer base.
Even better, Shockoe is also giving away a free ticket to CODESTRONG ($599 value) if you sign up for both the Building Mobile Native Apps & Advanced Titanium Mobile Development courses at the earlybird rate — so you can leave the Bay Area a certified Mobile/App developer! Titanium training offer hands-on learning and in-depth tutorials from experienced Appcelerator instructors to give you everything you need to get started developing mobile Apps for you and your business.
Already familiar with Titanium? Then this is a great chance to advance your knowledge and learn the latest in mobile development and Titanium coding practices from industry leaders. Appcelerator’s CEO Jeff Haynie along with many other notable speakers will be presenting on what to expect in the future of mobile development and how Appcelerator can help you reach your specific goals. The full list of speakers has been finalized and the schedule is set so you can plan ahead.
Looking to give back and learn by doing? Experienced and charitable developers can step up and enter the Hack to Help event. Hack to Help is a Hackathon where over $500,000 worth of mobile apps are distributed to different charities. Participants will be randomly assigned into 12 different teams and will work throughout Sunday night to create an App that will utilize the power of mobile technology to help raise money and awareness for a worthy non-profit. The teams will have until Monday 9 AM to submit their code and winners will be announced Tuesday.
If you register before September 15th you will save $300! So be sure to act fast on the early bird special to save on both your ticket and your hotel room.
Find out for yourself how CODESTRONG can help your company get the most out of Titanium and register today!
For a moment, imagine if you owned a hotel chain. If you were going to create a mobile application for phones, should it make the focus on transactions? Should it make the focus doling out coupons and discounts to would-be customers?
You’d think so, right?
Not necessarily if your are the Ritz-Carton Hotel Company.
While the luxury hotel chain’s App does do those things, they certainly are not the focus of the marketing campaign or of the the mobile application itself, according to a recent announcement by Ritz-Carlton. The company has unveiled a new mobile application for Apple iOS and Android smartphones which provides more than just standard hotel searches and reservations. The Ritz-Carlton App highlights a feature for hotel guests called “Presidential Tips” in which Ritz-Carlton president Herve Humler shares his favorite spots, features and unique touches of each and every Ritz-Carlton Hotel from their chain of hotels around the world. It’s like a guided tour by the president, available for every guest in every Ritz-Carlton hotel, available at all times.
“In my role, I am fortunate to be able to visit all of our stunning locations around the world,” said Humler about the App. “I want to enrich the Ritz-Carlton experience for our guests further with details about the things I have found to be quite unique and memorable in my travels. With The Ritz-Carlton App I can now do that very easily and in real-time.”
For even the most seasoned and pampered of luxury travellers, staying at a Ritz-Carlton is still a special experience, so allowing their exclusive clientele some VIP insider information delivered directly to their smartphones can only enhance their experience and will only increase the guest’s likelihood of sharing that experience with others.
The value of the Ritz-Carlton brand is in its luxuriance, its privilege, its uniqueness and its cultural and historical value for each of their properties, sharing those details can be difficult for a fully functioning hotel, even one with the level of service that even Ritz-Carlton affords. But the mobile application has made it very easy to provide more service and enhance the experience while tying right back into the core identity of what Ritz-Carlton is.
This mobile application ties in nicely with the overall exclusivity and luxury of the brand, while giving users reason to continue to use the App as they travel from one city to another to learn more about the company’s offerings, maybe those users will even find a deal or two along the way.
Even luxury travellers like a deal now and again … right?
What is unique about your organization or brand? How can you use that differentiation to your advantage through a web or mobile application? Can Shockoe help you uncover and utilize those key distinctions for your own mobile or web application? Please let us know in the comments, we’re here to help!
Last Wednesday TechCrunch, hosted a meetup in Richmond at the Snagajob.com offices to foster entrepreneurialism in the region. A widely respected and entrepreneur-focused technology blog, TechCrunch has a global audience is a must-read for many venture capitalists and technology moguls, so to have them visit was a big deal.
Entrepreneurship and Richmond?
TechCrunch’s visit brought together over 100 entrepreneurs, angel investors, tech industry insiders, and even the idle curious in an effort to encourage attendees to pitch entrepreneurial ideas to each other or to TechCrunch themselves and see where it might lead.
While we’ll have to wait and see what pacts were sealed with a ride on the Snagajob slide, TechCrunch’s visit validates a shift that many are already noticing in Richmond, but we’ll let TechCrunch tell you themselves:
It looks like this town is just starting to unwind a little and consider entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to the corporate life, so we’re pretty excited to be here.
While Richmond has been home to some titans of industry, entrepreneurial examples like Snagajob and Create Digital are proving that there’s room in Richmond for grass-roots growth in the new economy. While the recession has been tough on many, it’s also provided the proper creative and financial push to explore new opportunities and create new technologies with much lower barriers of entry to a global marketplace.
Of course with any new venture, there’s always going to be risk, but one of the TechCrunch hosts encouraged attendees to thoughtfully consider the risk versus the reward – and to be bold. “Make your pitch,” Jordan Crook urged attendees when it came to their business ideas. “What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? A potential investor says no? That’s nothing, then you just move onto the next one.”
Crook noted that right now is the very best time for new ideas and new companies to jump into the deep end. Good ideas will prevail, and Crook noted that in the present economic climate that starting a business or product now that proves viable will only set those entrepreneurs up all the better once the economy picks up.
So we ask … how do the risk and reward truly measure up? Are you poised to gain from the rapid expansion into the mobile environment? How can we help your idea become a reality?
One of the major features to be introduced in WordPress 3 was the ability to create custom post types. Basically, this lets you recreate the ‘Posts’ tab with specific functionality in mind. For example, creating a portfolio with fields for project images and client information. At Shockoe, we are using this in an upcoming project to that uses WordPress to provide content for a new iPhone app.
This makes WordPress much more viable as a CMS as opposed to blogging software that struggles to handle larger sites. In previous versions of WordPress this involved either a considerable amount of work or using a massive plugin. The best of those plugins, Magic Fields (a fork of Flutter), is several thousand lines of code. We can create a flexible solution in far fewer lines.
Here we have created a new post type that will have it’s own sidebar tab under ‘Posts’ as well as fields for title, content (‘editor’), an excerpt, and comments. We also added functionality similar to WordPress’ tags and categories features by calling ‘register_taxonomy.’ Setting ‘hierarchal’ => true will make the field behave like categories while leaving it empty (or setting it to ‘false’) gives us the tags functionality.
That’s it. Simple. In a handful of lines we have a flexible solution that gives us the option of using better contextual grammar. That translates to a much better experience for clients and end users.
Adding Custom Functionality
The code above basically replicates the Posts functionality with the ability to have better labels. But what if we need to include custom information? For that we need add_meta_box:
[cc lang="php"]add_action(“admin_init”, “admin_init”);
add_meta_box(“example_field”, “Example Text Field”, “example_field”, “normal”, “high”);
Now we should have a custom text box that will appear below the content editor. When we save our post, the information in our custom field will be saved to the database. And when we edit our post, the text field will be repopulated.
With a little bit of coding knowledge you can create an elegant solution for turning WordPress into a functional CMS. And this is a very basic example; the possibilities of what can be created from this point are endless.
Este articulo esta siendo traducido. Por ahora puedes revisar la traducción que google nos da. No es igual, pero nos ayuda por ahora.
[traducido con google - translate]
Una de las características fundamentales que conviene introducir en WordPress 3 era la capacidad de crear tipos de correos. Básicamente, esto le permite recrear la pestaña “Mensajes” con una funcionalidad específica en mente. Por ejemplo, la creación de una cartera con campos para proyectar imágenes e información del cliente. En Shockoe, estamos usando esto en un próximo proyecto a que utiliza WordPress para ofrecer contenido de una aplicación para el iPhone nuevo (se está construyendo con Titanium.)
Esto hace que sea mucho más viable WordPress como CMS en lugar de software de blogs que lucha por manejar grandes sitios. En versiones anteriores de WordPress esta intervenir, ni una cantidad considerable de trabajo o usando un plugin masiva. Lo mejor de los plugins, Campos Magic (un tenedor de trémolo), es varios miles de líneas de código. Podemos crear una solución flexible en las líneas de un número mucho menor.
Aquí hemos creado un tipo nuevo puesto que tendrá su propia pestaña en la barra lateral “Entradas”, así como campos de título, el contenido (“editor”), un extracto, y los comentarios.También hemos añadido una funcionalidad similar a las etiquetas de WordPress y características categorías llamando ‘register_taxonomy. “Jerárquico => Configuración’ true hará que el terreno se comportan como las categorías y se deja vacío (o el que éste se ocultaba en ‘false’) nos da la funcionalidad de etiquetas .
Eso es todo. Simple. En un puñado de líneas que tenemos una solución flexible que nos da la opción de utilizar mejor la gramática contextual. Eso se traduce en una experiencia mucho mejor para los clientes y usuarios finales.
Agregando funcionalidad personalizada
El código anterior, básicamente, replica la funcionalidad de Puestos con la posibilidad de tener mejores etiquetas. Pero ¿y si tenemos que incluir información personalizada? Para eso necesitamos add_meta_box:
[cc lang="php"]add_action(“admin_init”, “admin_init”);
add_meta_box(“example_field”, “Example Text Field”, “example_field”, “normal”, “high”);
Ahora debemos tener un cuadro de texto personalizado que aparecerá debajo del editor de contenidos. Al salvar a nuestro correo, la información en nuestro campo personalizado se guarda en la base de datos. Y cuando editamos nuestro puesto, el campo de texto se vuelve a llenar.
Con un poco de codificación de conocimientos, se puede crear una solución elegante para convertir WordPress en un CMS funcionales. Y este es un ejemplo muy básico, las posibilidades de lo que puede crearse a partir de este punto son infinitas.