One of the biggest challenges facing developers right now is the simple fact that the vast majority of people just don’t download that many new apps.
Google might have a solution: Android Instant Apps, which will allow people to use an app without ever having to download it from the Play Store. Instant Apps are now open to all developers, the company announced Wednesday at its I/O developer conference.
First introduced at last year’s I/O, Android Instant Apps essentially let you stream an app from Google’s Cloud. To the user, the experience feels the same as using a downloaded app from the Play Store, but everything is accessed via URLs.
Here’s what it looks like in action:
Google has been experimenting with the feature for the last year and says developers who have had early access have had a lot of success with the feature.
For users, Instant Apps offer a few advantages. For one, you can more easily take advantage of apps you may need once or twice without cluttering your home screen. Likewise, if you’re worried about device storage, Instant Apps allow you to use a service without worrying about running out of space.
It’s also a win for developers because it encourages people to try new apps before they download them. Downloading a new app may not sound like a big hurdle but for new developers, persuading people to try out their services is one of the biggest challenges they face.
For developers, creating an “instant” version of their app is relatively simple. Instant Apps use the same code as existing Play Store apps with a few adjustments.
Of course, there are some limits on what kinds of apps can be turned into Instant Apps. Google limits Instant Apps to 4MB, so some complex apps may not be easily converted to the format. The company is also still working on ways for games to be available via Instant Apps.
Still, it offers an interesting look at a potentially app-less future.
Web design is (finally!) dying of irrelevance. Web pages themselves are no longer the center of the Internet experience, which is why designers need to move on to the next challenges — products and ecosystems — if they want to stay relevant.
Web design has no future — a risky statement I know, but this article explains why it has no future and what we, as designers, can do about it. As a discipline, web design has already exhausted its possibilities, an emerging combination of tech and cultural trends highlight the need for a broader approach.
Let’s start with the symptoms of this imminent death.
Symptom 1: Commoditization by templates
Most of the content that you see on the web today is run by some framework or service — WordPress, Blogger, Drupal, you name it. Frameworks provide you a foundation and shortcuts so you spend less time struggling with the creation of a web site, and more time creating content.
As a consequence of the ubiquity of these frameworks, a whole world of free and paid templates lets you get started with a professional-looking design in minutes. Why hire a web designer if you can achieve a fairly acceptable design for a fraction of the cost using a template? Actually, many web designers (especially the ones on the cheaper side) just pick a pre-made template and make some minor branding customizations.
Either way, if your web page is a standard, informational one, there’s probably a template out there that can do the job for you.
Symptom 2: Web design patterns are mature
What is the latest web design innovation you can point a finger on? Responsive design? That’s digital ages old. Parallax? Useless eye-candy. The web has had all the user interface components and patterns you might need for a while now (and no, parallax is not something we really ever needed). And that’s why you don’t see much innovation in web patterns as of late.
This maturity is good for users: they will find consistency in their daily use of the web. Checkout forms, shopping carts, and login pages should all behave in a similar way. Trying to get creative at this point will probably be pointless or even harmful.
Symptom 3: Automation and artificial intelligence are already doing the job
There’s a new trend of automated web design services, arguably started by The Grid. It’s a service to build basic websites which makes design decisions — semantic ones — based on artificial intelligence. It analyzes your content to detect the best layouts, colors, fonts, and extra imagery for your site. Using cleverly chosen design basics (made by humans) as the foundation, it’s hard to go wrong with it, and the result will probably be better than what an average web designer can do.
When something can be successfully automated, it means that its practices and standards are established enough as not to need much human input. And this is obviously the beginning. There will be a fierce competition about which service can deliver better designs, faster, and with less human intervention.
Symptom 4: Facebook pages as the new small-business homepage
In the late 1990’s, future-minded businesses would buy their .com’s, purchase expensive hosting plans, and hire a “web master” in order to have The Web Page, the one that would make them visible to the rest of the Internet. By 2005, creating a site in Blogger or WordPress.com was more than enough for your new wedding photo business (it was also quick and free).
Today, this function has been completely overridden by Facebook pages. They are free, made to be viral out of the box, offer powerful tools only available to big businesses a decade ago (like subscription for updates or media posting), and are as easy to set up as your own profile page. They are so efficient in making a business visible that they are rendering basic web pages useless.
Symptom 5: Mobile is killing the web
How often do you visit a web site from your mobile device by directly typing the address? Only when you don’t have the app, right? People don’t seem to think much in terms of web pages these days: they think of digital brands, which mostly translate to apps or subscriptions (likes, follows, etc). That’s why most big websites, blogs, and portals are pushing their mobile apps to you — out of home screen, out of mind.
Mobile web has always been slow and cumbersome.
Mobile web has always been slow and cumbersome. Typing addresses is weird. Navigating between tabs is weird. Our underpowered mobile devices and saturated data networks don’t help create a smooth web experience like the one we have in our desktop machines.
As vital as responsive web design is (not adopting it is commiting digital suicide), it only guarantees that your user can view your page in a mobile device, if she ever finds it in first place. And the limited space in her mind is already mostly occupied by apps.
The rise of web services and the content that finds you
The truth is, we need fewer web pages, not more of them. There are already too many competing for our attention and assuming selfishly that we have all the time in the world to close pop-up ads, explore navigational hierarchies, and be dazzled by transitions, intros, and effects.
But what really matters is not how you arrange things on a page: it’s the content, in terms of a specific user need. That’s why Google is starting to display actual content in some search results, without you having to visit another page. Just an example: if you Google a nearby restaurant from your mobile device, the search results include a button to directly call the place. You don’t even need to visit the page. The page designer’s ego and the visits-counter may suffer a bit, but ultimately the user experience is improved.
Things are moving in the direction of digital assistants like Siri, and especially Google Now with the new changes announced for Android M: they aim to provide you the exact bit of information you need, when you need it. This implies a shift from web pages to web services: self-sufficient bits of information that can be combined to other services to deliver value. So if you are looking for a restaurant, you get the reviews from Foursquare or Yelp, the directions from Google Maps and the traffic conditions from Waze.
we are transitioning to a push-based model of content consumption
we are transitioning to a push-based model of content consumption, where the right information arrives without you even requesting it. Google Now, for instance, warns you of how early you should depart in order to arrive on time to your meeting. All of this is already happening thanks to APIs — interfaces that let other services interact with your data. In this world, web pages are not required at all.
This is not to say that web pages will die — they will be around for a long time, because they are — and will continue to be — useful for certain purposes. But there’s nothing interesting there for designers anymore. They are a commodity and a medium, no longer the default state for digital products and businesses.
Web pages are static content that need to be found and visited (pull-based). But in the emerging push-based paradigm, the content finds you. Through data obtained from your context, your activity, and even your biometrics, content and tools will smartly present themselves to you when you are most likely to need them.
That’s the big thing about the new breed of smartwatches: they obtain data from your body and show you proactively tiny bits of information for your brain to chew on. Computer technology is already making big steps in order to dissapear from your sight.
Where does this leave us?
Web design is dead, long live UX design
Here’s the good news: designers are really far from being obsolete. Quite to the contrary, you can see that the demand for UX designers is still on the rise, and everyone seems to be redesigning their digital products these days.
This switch from web design to experience design is directly caused by the shift from web pages to digital products, tools, and ecosystems.
This switch from web design to experience design is directly caused by the shift from web pages to digital products, tools, and ecosystems. Web pages are just part of something much bigger: mobile apps, API’s, social media presence, search engine optimization, customer service channels, and physical locations all inform the experience a user has with a brand, product, or service. Pretending that you can run a business or deliver value just by taking care of the web channel is naïve at best and harmful at worst.
And all these touch points need to be designed, planned, and managed. This is a job that will continue to exist, regardless of the channel. We will still need cohesive experiences and valuable content across smart climatizers, virtual reality devices, electronic contact lenses, and whatever we invent in the decades to come.
In fact, as technology fades into the background, all we can see is the value transmitted by it. The designers who want to stay in business need to be experts in managing content and value across channels.
It’s time for us to grow up, because we have been part of the problem: We have helped to give birth to self-righteous web pages that assume they deserve to be watched and awarded just for the time we invested in crafting them. Now more than ever, in a world flooded with cognitive noise, the world needs simple, intelligent, integrated ecosystems of information. The sooner designers embrace this need, the better prepared we’ll be for the future.
There’s tons of advice out there about how exactly to answer interview questions, what to wear to that interview and how to follow-up afterwards, but what if you’re having trouble even getting your foot in the door? For many people, it isn’t a lack of experience, education or training that is keeping them from getting a call back — or these days, an e-mail back. Instead, it often comes down to how you’re presenting yourself via your resume.
As Co-Founder of HireArt, I see hundreds of resumes day. The biggest mistake I see is people overstuffing their resumes, trying to cram every single activity, skill or job they have ever had onto one page instead of focusing on creating a coherent story. Just recently I was reviewing as 12-page resume that started out with the following:
“My skills include marketing, social media, project management, accounting, tax law, labor law, financial management, sales strategy, 6 Sigma, operational effectiveness, ad operations and software sales. I’ve also published two novels and took a few months off to write a poetry book last spring.”
While it might seem tempting to list every skill you have ever acquired, there are actually a few profound disadvantages to this approach.
Employers won’t remember anything if you try to focus on everything. If you list a long list of skills, an employer likely won’t recall any of them. It’s simply impossible to form a mental image if you present yourself as a lawyer, marketer and venture capitalist all in one. Which is it? Pick the one that is most important to you and emphasize it throughout your resume.
Having a clear narrative is a huge advantage. I recently interviewed a candidate for a sales position. Within the first three minutes of the conversation he said, “I live and breathe sales. I love everything about selling.” He spent the next 15 minutes telling me about his different sales roles and why he had excelled at them. As a hiring manager, this really appealed to me — he had a neat narrative that made me believe that he’d excel at the sales job I was hiring for. I later learned that he’d actually done a lot of things other than sales in his life, but he hadn’t focused on those things initially. His resume was sparse and though he didn’t skip his other roles, they just weren’t emphasized. The moral of the story is this: Why do I need to know you’re a great tax accountant if I’m hiring a sales person? It dilutes your narrative and makes me nervous about the sincerity of your passion for sales.
Resumes that exceed two pages are considered unprofessional. There is a lot of advice about resumes out there. If you’re applying for a job at a technology company or corporation, it’s very clear: employers really dislike long resumes. From Facebook to General Assembly down to tiny start-ups, not a single one of company would want you to submit a long resume. Being succinct is among the most important skills for a job applicant.
If you want to impress an employer, it’s much better to show than tell. The most underused trick of the trade is simply to show the employer why you’re good instead of writing an endless resume. One candidate I worked with created a product management portfolio with wireframes and product ideas for each company he was truly interested in. Another candidate, who ultimately got hired, helped the VP of Business Development get a meeting at Stanford Hospital before she was even hired. Seeing someone do excellent work is worth 1000x more than seeing a 12-page resume claiming excellence with no proof.
Finally, a lengthy or unfocused resume smells of desperation. Remember that guy you went on a date who couldn’t stop telling you how good he was at everything? You probably only went on one date with him. Being “good at everything” seems like a lie (even if it’s true!) and it’s unattractive. Don’t forget that landing a job is not that different from landing a date. You want to say just enough to get the hiring manager interested, but not so much that they become overwhelmed.
Before you apply for your next job ask yourself: who am I? Or rather, who am I in the context of this job application? Tailor your resume to tell a story that is so compelling that they’ll want to meet you to hear more.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.
Mashable Job Board Listings
The Mashable Job Board connects job seekers across the U.S. with unique career opportunities in the digital space. While we publish a wide range of job listings, we have selected a few job opportunities from the past two weeks to help get you started. Happy hunting!
Ready to start marketing your new company, product or brand? Before you create a blog, draft content for your brand-spanking-new website or start tweeting, first define your “brand voice.”
In a nutshell, this is the heart and soul of your communications. More than specific words and phrases, your brand voice is the tone in which you speak to and connect with your audience.
Your voice can be authoritative, informative, fun or just plain witty, but regardless, it must beauthentic. As one blogger wrote, “trying to fake your voice is like putting lipstick on a pig.” In other words, your audience will be able to tell if it’s not genuine. And, as studies have shown throughout the years, consumers buy products from brands that they connect to on an emotional level — and stay away from brands that they don’t.
If you’re already familiar with your brand voice, you can skip this stop. Otherwise, we’ve outlined four practices to bring you closer to finding your secret sauce.
1. Build Archetypes
As you work on nailing down your voice, it’s helpful to know who you’re talking to — beyond your audience’s basic demographics. Pick one person from each of your target audiences (e.g., working parents, college students or urban hipsters) and answer the following questions:
- What does he or she look like?
- What does he or she care about?
- Where does he or she work?
- What does he or she do for fun?
- And, most importantly, what does he or she want from your brand?
Getting into the heads of the people you’re ultimately trying to woo is a great way to get started thinking about your brand voice.
2. Fill in the Blank
Now, spend a bit of time answering the following questions:
- I want my brand to make people feel _______.
- _______ makes me feel this way.
- I want people to _______ when they come into contact with my brand.
- Three words that describe my brand are _______ , _______ and _______.
- I want to mimic the brand voice of _______.
- I dislike brand voices that sound _______.
- Interacting with my clients and potential clients makes me feel _______.
Because you want your brand voice to be genuine and natural, it will likely be inspired by yourown voice. So pay attention to the tone you use when you’re filling in these blanks. Is it funny? Laugh-out-loud funny or wink-and-a nod funny? Is it authoritative? Scholarly authoritative, or like an older brother explaining something really cool to his younger brother authoritative?
3. Create a Test Group
In life, our friends and family can often reflect back the things we sometimes miss about ourselves. You can use the same approach when looking for your brand voice.
Get a bunch of your closest people together — ideally, ones that represent your target community — and ask what excites them most about your brand. What’s unique about it? What words or phrases do they associate with it? Then, ask them to answer the same questions about you — the person who will be crafting that brand’s messages.
Based on their feedback, write a one-to-two sentence mission statement in a few different brand voices. Which one feels the most natural to you? Which one do you think is the most exciting? Don’t be afraid to combine parts of them and to keep working on your final product. Finding your brand voice is often like cooking: Sometimes you need a little splash of this and a little pinch of that to make it perfect.
Once you have a couple options you love, send them around to the group and see which resonates the most.
4. Find Your Muse
Once you have an idea of what you’re going for, it can be helpful to find other brands who have similar voices. Need a little inspiration? Check out these industry-spanning brands, both old and new. Some have witty brand voices, others have informative brand voices, but all are approachable and genuine.
Manhattan Mini Storage: They’re right in the heads of their target audience, New Yorkers — and built their voice around the shared issues and experiences this community can understand, laugh at and relate to.
Frank’s Red Hot: This hot sauce brand’s tagline is “We Put That Sh*t On Everything.” Need we say more?
Nike: The company that coined “Just Do It” has built its brand voice around inspiring people both on and off the field.
Whole Foods: Whole Foods is the holy grail of all things healthy living, thanks to its authoritative yet approachable voice.
Charmin: The Charmin team has built its voice around giggle-worthy bathroom humor without going over the top. To get an idea of their sense of humor, search the hashtag#tweetfromtheseat.
GE: GE’s brand voice is like a mole sauce; it’s got a little bit of everything. It’s inspiring, it’s informative, it’s witty, it’s fun. And because it’s been so successful in connecting with its audience, it’s trusted.
Popchips: Reading Popchips’ Twitter feed is like hanging out with my super fun, life-of-the-party friend. Take the brand’s sixth anniversary campaign: “Let’s talk about six, baby.”
Once you’ve got your brand voice down, keep it consistent. You want people who follow you on Tumblr, visit your website and interact with your customer service department to have the same (memorable) experience. In order to do so, build a style guide describing your brand and its voice and distribute it to your team. Or host an event to introduce the brand voice, answer any questions people have, and create a plan to implement it across your platforms.
And then? Time to start talking.
Responsive design is rapidly becoming the new standard in our industry, along with its evolving carousel of best practices, platforms and tools. The movement has caused a shift in thinking, especially as we adapt our workflows for a more efficient project process.
From content structure to scalable images, we’ll cover seven techniques to consider in your next responsive design.
If you are a designer or developer, what are some of your strategies for responsive web design? Please share your recommendations with readers in the comments below.
1. Mobile First
Starting with a mobile first approach and designing with progressive enhancement covers all bases, helps you focus and prioritize the constraints of mobile design, while you build new innovative experiences and capabilities.
It means the default presentation and base content is mobile, optimized for the simplest devices first. Devices with small screens and media query support is then served an advanced layout. Finally, the content and layout are then enhanced for the “desktop.” It’s an approach even Google has adopted, as the number of people perusing the web on mobile devices continues to grow at an incredible rate.
Designing for the mobile experience should now be our starting point, not the end. It forces us to focus on the essential content, to build optimized, fast-loading mobile experiences that are progressively enhanced, with the user at the forefront.
As ZURB, the team behind the popular responsive CSS framework, Foundation, noted, “A mobile first approach doesn’t just concentrate on developing for mobile phones; it is also used to develop better usability of sites, develop better use of web real estate and better reduce the amount of unnecessary elements from web pages.”
While the mobile first responsive design technique is still in its infancy, and presents a variety of technical challenges, embracing it means you are building on an adaptive, focused, lean, uncluttered future-friendly foundation.
Read the full article: Mashable