Sorry Apple, you guys have a great device in the iPhone 5 but it’s certainly not the world’s thinnest smartphone. While the 7.6mm thick body sounds incredibly thin and sexy, we’ve already found three Android smartphones that come in thinner.
- Oppo Finder (6.65mm)
- ZTE Athena (6.2mm)
- Huawei Ascend P1 (6.68mm)
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say that there will be thinner devices over the next few months. That said, we’re pretty darn sure that a lot of you would happily add a few millimeters to your phone’s backside if it provided some added talk-time and standby.
Motorola, to their credit, has found a way to marry the two mindsets in the Droid Razr Maxx HD. With a 3300mAh battery and more than one full day of usage promised, the Verizon handset still comes in at an incredibly thin 9.3mm body.
Building a website may seem like a small part of your business development, but it shouldn’t be. It’s often the first thing people notice about your company.
Finding a Web designer was one of the easiest parts of starting Altruette. We posted an ad on Craigslist–which seemed like the most unprofessional thing to do at the time–but within days we had dozens of applicants for the job. We just happened to visit a company called Mars Design first, and it was mainly because it was conveniently located near another meeting we had that day. We were immediately impressed with their work, and they were willing to work with our budget.
We realize now that it could have been a serious disaster. Building a site is expensive, and for small businesses like ours, it requires a big percentage of your budget. But we lucked out. We’ve talked with countless entrepreneurs who have struggled to build their own site or have overpaid for a site that they’ve ended up hating.
And for a company without a brick-and-mortar storefront, the look, feel, and functionality of our website is extremely important. The site serves as our only window for the world to see in, and our content must serve as our sales team.
The easy part was finding Mars Design. Figuring out the next steps wasn’t as simple. Fortunately Marshall Cohen, Mars’s founder and creative director, guided us through the process. So we figured we’d team up with Mars–which we still work closely with–and create a plan of action that any start-up preparing to build a consumer site might find useful. Here’s what we learned along the way–and what any business that’s just starting out should consider before building its site.
Choose your team.
Not all studios are the same. Again, we lucked out on the Web developer front, but we haven’t always been so fortunate with vendors. Now we try to meet or interview three companies before we hire a new vendor. So do your homework. Studios come in all sizes and have different specialties. Check their portfolios and ask for references. Look for consistency among their work and a good sense of style. Do they have a specialty such as e-commerce or nonprofit? How big is the team that will be working on your project?
Figure out your budget.
First and foremost, refuse the urge to just find the cheapest quote. We went with a team approach–Mars Design has both designers and developers. We know one-person shops that can do both, but we liked the team at Mars. “The two–design and development–are separate specialties,” Cohen warns. “Because technology changes so rapidly, it’s nearly impossible for any one person to keep up and offer an all-around quality solution.”
And there are other things your studio should consider when designing and developing your site, such as ongoing search-engine optimization and online marketing. Make sure you know what you’re getting. It’s not uncommon to need a couple of revisions to your designs before you’re happy with them. Ask how many revisions are offered as part of the contract. Working with a small team has a lot of benefits. You’ll get the best of both worlds–individuals that specialize in different areas and at lower rates than the bigger studios offer–because it won’t have the overhead costs of a larger firm. And you’ll often get more personalized service, which is one of the things we love about Mars Design.
This is the fun part and will impact your brand well beyond your site. Study other websites and take notes on what you like about them. “Pay attention to details like style, layout, navigation, functionality, color, logo, etc,” Cohen says. The sites you love might not be in the same industry, but don’t discount them. This exercise will also help you nail down your overall branding–things such as logo and colors–if you haven’t already done so. But be sure to review as many competitors as you can to make sure you differentiate your brand. “Also make sure you take time to navigate through these other websites to figure out what you like or dislike about the experience,” Marshall suggests. Do you find it confusing? Is it user friendly? Is the information clear and concise?
Define your goals.
You need short- and long-term goals so that a studio can build your site with your company’s growth in mind. Think about how things may change over time. Early on Cohen asked if we wanted PayPal or a seamless checkout. We hadn’t thought much about it until he pointed it out. Cohen suggested we use what’s called a merchant account instead of PayPal. He made it clear that PayPal is easier and less expensive but that we would be happier with a seamless merchant account instead. We decided we wanted our site to be as professional looking as possible from the moment we launched and followed Cohen’s advice.
Other questions he says you should ask yourself include: Who will manage the website content to keep it fresh? Will you be doing this yourself or having an employee handle it, or would you rather not get involved and have your design team handle it? We do a little of both. If the changes are significant, we hire Mars to do it. If it’s a simple edit to the site, we can usually handle it on our own. Who will manage shipping? Will your products be shipped through a fulfillment house? If so, your website will need to integrate with the fulfillment center’s system. For us, connecting our site to our fulfillment center was our biggest technical hurdle. It required a lot of back and forth, but it now operates seamlessly.
Build a site map with your Web team.
Building a site map is important. “It’s like a family tree–it shows the relation of pages and information within a website. Pages are typically organized in hierarchical fashion,” Cohen says. Your Web design team can help you build the site map and determine which pages are necessary. However, it’s very helpful to start looking at other websites to see how information is presented. Is it broken down into small, digestible pieces? Are those pieces on individual pages or separate pages?
Define your target.
The goal of your site is to reach your target demographic and communicate with them in a language they speak. You need to know your customers so well that your website answers any questions they might have and makes it easy to buy what you’re selling. To help you do that, here is a list of questions to ask yourself and your team:
- Who is your target audience?
- How old are they? Are they men, women, children, or a combination?
- What key information does this audience need? What inspires them? What influences their decision-making process?
- Where do they live? Will they be visiting your site during work or at home? (We always hate when we open up a site with annoying music. It’s fine if customers shop while at home, but it will drive them away fast if they’re visiting while at work.)
- What do they expect when they visit a company site like yours?
- How are they using the site? Are they Web savvy, or are they just beginning to use the Web for online business? What might scare them off?
Choose a memorable domain.
Finding a memorable domain that’s available is nearly impossible these days. We spent months trying to figure out what name best represented the brand we were building. We were obsessed with finding a single word that spoke for the brand, and we weren’t happy until we found it. It was such an unexpectedly tough process that we think it requires a future column of its own.
At the end of the day, working with your Web team will require a lot of give and take. But when it comes to anything technical, heed your Web developer’s warning. Cohen told us early on not to hit a certain button when we were on the back end of our site. A few days after we launched, we decided to post a new blog. It was Thanksgiving morning. When one of us (we won’t name names!) couldn’t get the blog to publish, we hit that button. The site disappeared from the Web instantly. Cohen was forced to get on his computer and get to work. He got the site back up, and we learned our lesson. And we had one more person to be thankful for that day.
When Samsung introduced S-Voice on its Galaxy S III smartphone, it was clear that it was ripping off Siri, the Apple iPhone 4S’ voice assistant. The world clearly has room for more than one, but how do the two voice assistants stack up when it comes to accuracy and response times?
Siri is the incumbent here, and Apple has heavily advertised it heavily with a stream of celebrities. I’ve never found Siri to be incredibly helpful, but with updates in iOS 6 around the corner, Siri looks more promising. S-Voice is a brand-new creation that is mostly playing catch-up with Siri but has some handy integrations with Facebook and Twitter, while Siri can interact with many functions inside the device itself.
Online phone retailer Dailaphone has created an infographic showing a face-off between Siri and S-Voice with some slightly surprising results, including that Siri takes an average 5.6 seconds to respond while S-Voice takes 7.9 seconds. That said, based on average accuracy, start-up times, and response times, I’d almost rather not use either voice assistant and just find the information with a smart Google search.
Let us know in the comments if you use Siri or S-Voice and how they work for you in your daily life. Check out the full infographic below:
- Voice assistant battle royale: Siri vs. S-Voice (infographic) (venturebeat.com)
- Siri = Eliza? (zdnet.com)
- Siri is rubbish, claims analyst (news.techeye.net)
- IBM bans Siri: Privacy risk, or corporate paranoia at its best? – ZDNet (blog) (zdnet.com)
- Study gives Apple’s Siri a ‘D’ for accuracy (techradar.com)
- One-third of Siri users don’t make it beyond calls, web use and texts (mobile-ent.biz)
- Siri Still Behind Google Search On Comprehension & Accuracy (devicemag.com)
- Here’s Why Google Now Is Better Than Apple’s Siri (GOOG) (businessinsider.com)
- Wait, So Apple’s Siri Won’t Kill Google Search After All? (forbes.com)
- Google Voice Search In Android 4.1 Trumps Siri In Everyday Q&A (redmondpie.com)
As noted by BGR, Google’s own Matias Duarte announced on his Google+ page that Android, specifically Ice Cream Sandwich, has been awarded the Gold Prize for best platform at the Parsons School of Design’s 2012 User Experience Awards:
Ice Cream Sandwich won the Gold Prize for best platform experience at Parsons’ 2012 User Experience Awards! Way to go team!
Thanks to Parsons for hosting a great event and thanks to IXDA, NYC UPA, and NYC CHI. We need more celebrations of UX like this!
- Ice Cream Sandwich awarded best platform at Parsons User Experience Awards (9to5google.com)
- ICS Wins Gold Prize At UX Award For Best User Experience (goandroid.co.in)
- Ice Cream Sandwich named best platform experience by Parsons (bgr.com)
- ICS wins the Gold Prize for “best platform experience” (androidauthority.com)
- Google shows their inspiration and exploration of Android 4.0 ICS design [Video] (androidcommunity.com)
- Βραβείο καλύτερου User Experience για το Android ICS στα Parsons School of Design Awards 2012 UX (funday.gr)
isheep = A follower of the Apple cult regardless of the usefulness or real worth of the product. Believes with without question the cult propaganda which installs the almost mythological belief that what they have just bought is the fastest or most user friendly product ever, only to be re-sold the same product, with a few minor tweaks, a few months later with the same rhetoric and complete disregard for reality. Easily mislead by their own egos and think they are being unique and innovative.
- More Than Half Of All Households In America Now Own An Apple Device | Cult of Mac (cultofmac.vanillaforums.com)
- The Cult of Apple (churchofpossibility.com)
- Apple cult mocked by Samsung in Galaxy S II ad (news.cnet.com)
- It’s Time to Stop Talking About the Apple Cult (techland.time.com)
- Apple is Becoming a Patents Cult (techrights.org)
A couple of hours ago, Samsung mobile tweeted the following message: “Destination tgeltaayehxnx”. After some thinking it quickly became clear that tgeltaayehxnx is an anagram for “The Next Galaxy”.
When visiting the url tgeltaayehxnx.com you will see a count down timer on it. What could this mean?
Samsung marketing at its best
The last few weeks things have been crazy with daily leaks, rumors, fakes, pictures and information on Samsung’s upcoming phone. However, we still know almost nothing, the only thing we do know is that Samsung will announce “The Next Galaxy” on May 3rth. However, what this “next galaxy” is remains unknown, could it be the Samsung Galaxy S3?
The tweet that stared this all
One thing is sure, with this new website Samsung will create a huge buzz about the next galaxy.
Of course, we didn’t want to wait until tomorrow so we had a look at the source code to see if we could find some hints about what will happen tomorrow. Luckily for us, we found the following directory:
The Hint button telling you what you will need to do
A button we have found that will be shown once you have finished the puzzel. We have no idea where the button will take us
Solving the puzzle
We know the goal, and we know the letters, so time to solve the puzzle. Of course this is a piece of cake and the answer of the puzzle is: TheNextGalaxy.
So the logical thing to do was visit thenextgalaxy.com, but our path ended their since the site is locked with a password, for now. It seems logical that when the count down timer ends, the puzzle and the site thenextgalaxy.com will be available to the public.
What we will see there is unknown, but it will probably be more teasing from Samsung. We can’t imagine Samsung to announce an device on this site tomorrow, not with a Samsung unpacked event just around the corner.
What could it be? Perhaps Samsung will show a teaser video on the website, similar to what they did with the release of the Samsung Galaxy S2. Let’s hope it won’t be another puzzle and this time some real and valuable information!
What do you think will be visible on that website? Let us know in the comments!
- Samsung to held Galaxy S3 Launch event on 22nd May in London (nvarsos.wordpress.com)
- Samsung teases Galaxy S III with new countdown site (venturebeat.com)
- Samsung begins teasing Galaxy S III launch with countdown on cryptic teaser site (thenextweb.com)
- Report: Samsung Launching Cloud Service on May 3 (pcmag.com)
- Will Samsung follow Apple with its “Galaxy S3″ proto plans? (slashgear.com)
- Samsung’s May 3 Round-up: Galaxy S III and more (slashgear.com)