Ideas, insights and inspirations.

Photo courtesy of Google. I recently attended Google’s 3rd annual Think Education marketing summit in their New York City office.  Google’s offices are packed with color and excitement, and yes, they really do have chefs who cook every day for the employees!  The event was led by Google education industry experts, and attendees consisted mostly of agency and marketing reps from many higher ed institutions.  So much valuable information was shared about ways prospective students (80% of which are applying online!) are finding and engaging with higher education brands that I wanted to share some of those learnings here. Search Search is very much a part of prospects’ journeys, as they research and collect information on colleges and universities.  Google reported that 78% of converting prospects on education websites are, in some way, influenced by search. It’s critical for schools to ensure high organic rankings in the search results not only to allow maximum visibility for key reputation terms, but … Continue reading

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Luke Wroblewski’s most recent Data Monday post compiled astounding iPad stats. In two years, Apple has sold 67 million iPads, and is by far the leading tablet device. So leading, in fact, that its closest sales competitor is itself—the number 2 tablet is an older iPad, currently on sale at a lower price. With this in mind, I took a quick unscientific survey of a few of our client’s web analytics across higher education, non-profit, manufacturing and banking. This past month, 32% of mobile device visits were from the iPad. With new iPad users coming online every day, and nearly 1/3 of our client’s mobile visits coming from the iPad, it’s a good time to think about how people use these devices, and how they differ from mobile smartphone experiences. Standard websites work fairly well on iPads. On smartphones with touch interfaces, delivering a “desktop” site generally means the user has to pinch and zoom (or squint) to find information. Except … Continue reading

Trickier than it sounds! Some pictures are worth far more than a thousand words.

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In typically self-effacing manner, Ethan Marcotte deflected the gobs of praise and gratitude being offered to him today, on the two-year-anniversary of his seminal A List Apart article in which he first described what’s come to be known as Responsive Web Design. I think this deserves one tiny footnote, and that’s that Ethan didn’t simply write an article. That’s misleadingly humble. Ethan got tenaciously interested in solving a particular problem related to how a proliferating variety of devices and browsers displayed websites. Yes, the author community caught the fever, spreading and advancing the technique, but before Ethan’s article delivered Responsive Design to ALA readers, he noticed something, got intensely curious about it, and put in a lot of dedicated effort to satisfy his curiosity. That’s the part I’m thankful for, and it’s why congratulations are most certainly in order.

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about the need for judicious consideration of whether to embark on an app-building journey or build a mobile-friendly website. A couple of days later, Buzz Andersen at Tumblr said something in an interview that rings true for most of us not profoundly drunk on the Kool Aid of the so-called app economy: Really since the introduction of the iPhone, but particularly after the advent iPad, this concept of “apps as content” has gained a lot of currency, and now every media company in the world feels compelled to be in the business of developing native software as a distribution channel. Despite the press’s tendency to portray this trend as futuristic, I actually think of it as a bit retrograde—particularly since we’ve actually been evolving an incredibly sophisticated medium for content presentation and distribution for over 15 years now: the web. – Buzz Andersen, Director of Mobile Development at Tumblr Good lord, is “retrograde” ever … Continue reading

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Best practices for linking to your mobile site from your full site, and from your full desktop site to your mobile website.

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Once upon a time, a project (the making of, let’s call it, “The Product”) would go like this: Having finished discovery, the project lead, an information architect, and a content strategist would articulate the site’s purpose, structure, content strategy, and page requirements. This would take the form of a package of deliverables including spreadsheets, site maps, and wireframes – henceforth called “The Package”. Next, one or more visual designers – now invited into the project for the first time – would review the The Package, ask questions about The Package, reinvent parts of The Package, discard parts of The Package, and produce a proposed design based on the modified Package. Naturally, the designers’ renovations called for the re-entry of the information architect and content strategist, despite the fact that our process frequently made such re-entries inconvenient if not unfeasible. The project lead, information architect, content strategist, visual designer, and project manager would now enter into the cavernous stomach of a … Continue reading

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In my last post, I talked about how to use analytics to research your mobile website visitors so that you can make an informed decision about your future mobile projects. This time, we’ll look at how surveys and interviews can help you glean insights about your mobile presence (or lack of) from your site’s visitors. Why surveys and interviews? While site analytics gather quantitative behavioral data, online surveys and interviews can also collect more qualitative data, like opinions and self-reported preferences. Though self-reported anecdotes should always be taken with a grain of salt, survey and interview responses can be very helpful for prioritizing ideas, uncovering new insights, and giving a voice to your site’s visitors. Surveys Conducting an online survey is a great way to gain insights about your visitors because you can easily collect data and opinions from a large group of people. Surveys can be structured to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. For example, say that you … Continue reading

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By now, you’ve realized you need a mobile presence. Or maybe you already have one, or are trying to figure out whether it’s really working for you. Is it time for phase two? Your current state aside, chances are you’ve got mobile on the mind. But how do you know what your visitors want? It’s not rocket science. In fact, you have a lot of data and insights stockpiled already. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some details with you about how to conduct your own DIY user research to better plan for your next mobile venture. This week, we’ll start by using website analytics. After that, we’ll explore interviews and surveys…you know, talking to real people. Why use analytics? Almost everyone has Google Analytics or some other web analytics package installed. Even if you haven’t been actively using it, the tool has. It’s been busy collecting valuable usage data. There are a few benefits to using web analytics … Continue reading

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It’s a scene as familiar as your drive to work. The conversation is marked mainly by questions. A 17-y.o. high school senior and his parents discuss college as they clear the family dinner table. What are his options? Why isn’t he interested in business? “Artists starve… how many times do I have to tell you?” Tonight’s conversation lasts longer than most: all of ten minutes before the son withdraws to his room. He knows his parents are right. He doesn’t want to let them down, but plenty of people manage to make a living in the arts. He just needs to figure out how. He reaches for his iPhone and launches Safari. In the Google search field, he types, “art and business dual degree,” and waits for answers to appear. And appear they do – an entire page of options. Schools he’s heard of, schools he hasn’t. Choices. Possibilities. Potential. He closes Safari, swipes twice, taps the App Store icon, … Continue reading

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