Are web content management systems properly tuned for mobile?
Earlier this year, Google announced that it would consider the responsiveness and overall user experience of websites on mobile devices as it calculates rank and relevance of a website in search results. Google also said it would favor sites that were optimized for a better user experience on small screens — for example those that use larger font sizes and separate links so that they are easier to tap. Factoring the mobile user experience makes perfect sense in a world where the majority of web traffic is now between web servers and mobile devices.
The effect of the resulting tweaks that Google made to its search engine algorithms were at first discounted by industry pundits, but then later found to be quite significant. For example, Adobe tracked traffic to more than 5,000 sites, which it divided into two camps: mobile-friendly and non-mobile-friendly. Its statistics showed that, compared to mobile-friendly sites, traffic to non-mobile-friendly websites from Google mobile searches fell 12 percent in the two months after the changes took effect in April 2015. So, while Google’s new approach took time make an impact, it’s now clear that websites that deliver a poor experience on mobile devices are getting dinged by the world’s biggest search engine.
It’s easier for smaller website operators
If you’re operating a small or medium-size website with a manageable number of reasonably static pages (say, 10-20 pages), your path to Google redemption is pretty easy: make sure your website uses responsive design techniques. But if you’re running a much larger website, your path is likely much more complicated and possibly beyond your direct control. Ecommerce businesses and dynamic content publishers (enterprise and news media sites, for example) are probably using some sort of content management system, which means they’re completely dependent on their vendor’s ability to adapt to this massive shift to mobile.
Web content management (WCM) systems have become extremely popular with publishers, ecommerce operators and indeed any enterprise that manages a complex website. In a recent report, Gartner observed that the “…Web content management remains a vibrant and growing market, fueled by the aspirations of digital strategists on the demand side and continuous innovation on the supply side. IT application leaders, marketers, digital experience specialists and merchandizers all now view WCM as mission-critical.”
That report looked at just 10 vendors that offer WCM systems — although there are maybe three times that number that were not included. And that’s a lot of websites powered by WCM systems. Since dynamic content (and by extension, a WCMS) is the hub of every enterprise’s interaction with its audiences, it’s important to understand how these systems are adapting to the New World Order of the mobile web.
WCMS vendors have differing approaches to mobile optimization
To understand this, we’ve been talking to several of the WCM system vendors in recent months as they wrestle with how to improve the user experience they provide mobile users. What we’ve learned is that they employ one of four different approaches. Here’s a quick low-down of each, and our assessment of its suitability for a mobile-centric world.
First, let’s define them. Search Engine Land summarizes these rather well:
• Responsive Design. Often referred to as “RWD” for Responsive Web Design, this design approach uses fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images and varying CSS style rules to deliver different user experiences to desktop, tablet and mobile devices — while maintaining the same HTML and URL structure. The site shrinks or grows according to device.
• Adaptive Design. Also referred to by Google as dynamic serving, adaptive design serves different devices using the same URL structure, but it does so by detecting the device and generating a different version of the site’s HTML appropriate for that device. The site has multiple versions that are served through common URLs.
• Dedicated. Sometimes referred to as mDot (“m.”), this configuration delivers different HTML on separate URLs, depending on the device detected. The usual arrangement is to have the desktop site located on the www subdomain and the mobile-friendly site’s pages located on the “m.” subdomain. Pure Oxygen Labs recently reported that 54 percent of the Internet Retailer top 500 brands currently employ this configuration.
As we apply these approaches to WCM systems, crucial advantages and disadvantages become apparent. Let’s look at each and examine the role of the server versus the client, and what this means for user experience.
Responsive Design: this is the approach most favored by WCM vendors. To enable this as a client-side approach, often the WCM system uses a front-end framework developed by a third party such as those from Bootstrap, Skeleton and Zurb.
Observations: While this approach is great for the vendors (since only one codebase is required), it’s not great for users because all the web content is sent to the client, regardless of the device type. It’s simply optimized (via CSS) for presentation on the mobile screen. In our recent responsive design survey of media websites, we highlighted the poor user experience that can result when this approach is used on an image-rich website.
Adaptive design. Typically, the approach taken here by WCMS vendors is to use pre-configured templates (minimally, three) that are selected and served after identifying the target device and categorizing it into one of three screen-size classes.
Observations: In adaptive design, the server responds with different HTML and CSS templates from the same URL, depending on the user agent requesting the page. While this improves the experience for users, it’s not ideal for massive amounts of server-side content because it requires you to create and maintain at least three sets of content and code for each page.
Dedicated/m-dot: most experts would agree that this is a holdover from the early days of website design. The fact that it’s still so prevalent with ecommerce vendors perhaps shows how disruptive and costly it is to ditch this approach on favor of something more modern.
Observations: The single-largest problem with this approach is that it requires a completely bifurcated content and layout strategy: one for mobile and one for desktop. It’s an error-prone approach that Google clearly does not favor.
Trilibis take: User-first is more important than mobile-first
Through our work with some of the leaders in the WCM sector, we frequently hear that user engagement is key for high-traffic web publishers and retailers. For this reason, some WCM vendors are adopting a server-side strategy in conjunction with client-side adaptation, such as that employed by Trilibis’ SNOW technology, which goes beyond presentation (UI) to optimize how a website behaves (UX) on a particular device.
The Trilibis SNOW approach leverages server-side resources to deliver the advantages of adaptive design, only with a single codebase. In other words, SNOW offers dynamic serving on a unified code base (RESS): this provides the positive aspects of both responsive design and dynamic serving. In this approach, server-side code, working in conjunction with the WCM system and client-side capability, identifies the device type and features, then serves up only the HTML, CSS, and images required by that particular device, all from one code base. The result is a highly optimized user experience, reduced page payloads, and a super-fast experience for all users.
For many WCM systems, we think a complete RESS (Server-Side Components with Responsive Web Design) approach is an efficient complement to their existing architecture, and has provided our WCMS partners with a distinct edge in the marketplace, and a future-proof mobile engagement strategy.
To learn more about how Trilibis can work with your WCMS, email Jason Saroyan at email@example.com.
If you’re a VAD, SI or e-commerce solutions architect who specializes in IBM® WebSphere® Commerce websites, we’d like you to know about SNOW IO, a new server plug-in that can make a huge difference in customer experience and, ultimately, conversion to sale.
Website speed can have a massive effect on conversions, both good and bad. And for e-commerce sites, every additional second it takes your site to load reduces your conversion rate by up to seven percent, according to research from the Aberdeen Group. Beyond conversion, slow-loading websites see 11 percent fewer page views and get dinged with a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction. While a number of factors contribute to the overall weight of a web page, in our survey of top responsive websites, we found that the size of website images is a significant contributor to lengthy page-load times on mobile devices. The solution is to optimize the images for each page and ensure the right-size image is sent to the device that requested the responsive web page.
The Trilibis SNOW® Image Optimization solution (SNOW IO) is a great way to complete the entire process. What’s great about SNOW IO is that it goes beyond image optimization and delivers optimized image selection by device type. Installed as a simple plug-in on any IBM WebSphere Commerce server, and specifically validated for use with IBM® WebSphere® Commerce, SNOW IO automatically identifies images used on every web page and optimizes them for thousands of devices. At runtime, SNOW IO works in conjunction with the web server to identify the type of device that is accessing the website, and to ensure it is served only the appropriate images optimized for that specific device.
The resulting performance increases can be dramatic. During tests that we conducted with IBM, SNOW IO reduced the image weight of IBM WebSphere Commerce responsive web pages by 23 to 61 percent. SNOW IO can reduce page weight from megabytes to kilobytes, and shave valuable seconds off overall page-load times. In other words, SNOW IO makes your responsive website even more responsive!
SNOW IO is compatible with Commerce Composer (Feature Pack 7 and better), which means business users can focus on page layout and content without having to worry about right-sizing images. And if your system is using an older version of Composer (possibly with some other web design framework such as Bootstrap or Zurb), SNOW IO will still deliver noticeable customer experience improvements by minimizing both the size and number of image versions sent to the client device.
The combination of Trilibis SNOW IO and IBM WebSphere Commerce addresses a key objective for all online retailers: delivering the best possible customer experience across all devices. To learn more, see Trilibis SNOW IO on the IBM Cloud Marketplace.
You may be wondering how this integration works and how to configure SNOW IO. Bob Balfe, worldwide technical sales leader for IBM’s Commerce program, has developed a helpful video that takes you through the technical aspects of SNOW IO, how it’s configured on IBM WebSphere Commerce, and how it optimizes images used in your IBM Aurora storefront. Thanks Bob!
As I read through Mary Meeker’s most recent report (Internet Trends Report, 2015), I was struck by how much the narrative has evolved over the last three years. Whereas in previous years the focus has mainly been on the interpretation of raw data to derive market and device trends, this year’s report took a sharp right turn after the customary market growth charts to highlight some new and important observations: the growth of mobile advertising and the affect of mobile on crucial business functions. Before I get to that, let’s review the top-line themes of this year’s report:
• After an explosive start, Internet user growth is finally starting to slow down. The number of global Internet users grew by eight percent in 2014, compared to ten percent in the previous year.
• Similarly, smartphone adoption is slowing down: 2014 saw 23 percent growth compared to 27 percent in 2013.
• There are now 2.8 billion Internet users globally, up 8 percent in 2014
• There are 5.2 billion mobile phone users now, up 23 percent in 2014. Of which, 2.1 billion are smartphone users vs. 3.1 feature phone users
• US smartphone subscription penetration was 64% in 2014
• User engagement growth solid: up 11% (2014 over 2013)
• The big 20-year change: people are connected 24/7 with mobile devices
The “Re-Imagining” Continues
This section of the report (which begins on slide 28) contains some key insights. This year’s analysis highlights how mobile has transformed core functions that power enterprises: business communications, payments, business analytics & planning, document signing and transaction management, CRM, HR/training. Across all these areas, mobile has emerged as a platform that has forced ISVs and developers to re-imagine how to factor mobile into the transformation of these key business functions. For each, it’s noteworthy that the user experience on mobile has shaped the design and execution of these apps, making them easier to use, more powerful and more productive than their previous desktop versions. In some case, the mobile version of these apps offers an all-around better experience than the desktop/web version. We’ve come a long way since m-dot websites!
Mobile optimization moves to the forefront
These trends underscore an essential truth: as consumers and business users shift their use of web resources from desktop to mobile, it’s imperative that website architects and designers optimize the user experience for mobile. By optimize, I mean going far beyond simple format and orientation to consider how users will interact with each page. This means re-imaging how presentation, layout, button size, font size, device-specific features and page-load time are optimized not just for “mobile” — but for individual devices.
Understanding how, why and when your users engage via specific channels and devices will lead to a better user experience, and will deliver additional value for your users. Users (especially mobile users) are turned off by inconsistencies across channels, but they’re also turned off when advertisements disrupt and aren’t integrated into their user experience. This means that your ads must be specifically formatted for mobile (how many times have you seen an ad that obscures content, or a close button in an ad that won’t close the ad?) — these are reasons for a user to abandon that page and, quite conceivably, never return to that website. And once that user arrives on your landing page, make sure it, too, is optimized for the device in his/her hand.
How SNOW can help
If you’d like to learn more about how our server-side content optimization technology (SNOW) can transform any website, CMS or e-commerce system into a mobile-optimized and generally delightful experience for your customers or users, read the Trilibis white paper. Or, for a quick overview, watch our video.
We’re delighted to announce that an updated version of the Trilibis multi-device emulator is now available for developers at www.codewithsnow.com. It’s a great way for any UX designer or website developer to ensure that the presentation and functionality of a new website is perfect for all today’s modern desktop browsers, smartphones, and tablets.
Before we discuss what’s cool and new in the emulator, let’s review why there’s need for it in the first place. As we noted earlier, on April 21 of this year, Google’s “mobile-friendly” search ranking algorithm went into effect, accompanied by widespread consternation on the web. Perhaps predictably, #mobilegeddon, the term coined to describe the potential for websites to suffer a decrease in their organic search rank, ended up trending on Twitter. From what we observed, it seemed that mobilegeddon won out over mobilepocalypse, mopocalypse or mobocalypse.
No matter what the term, Google’s decision to negatively score the relevance of a site that performs poorly on a mobile device reflects a trend that has been accelerating over the last two years. Today, many visitor site logs will reveal a significant proportion of visitors are accessing the site with a mobile device of some sort. For many websites, the majority of visitors are now mobile-based.
If they weren’t keenly aware of it before, website owners and publishers worldwide must now assess their site’s mobile friendliness. Google has thoughtfully provided the “Mobile-Friendly test tool”, which analyzes a URL and reports if the page has a design that:
- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, such as Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
The Trilibis emulator lets you evaluate both the look and functionality of a site
What if you need to know exactly how a site looks on every popular model of phone, smartphone or tablet? As part of the development of SNOW (Software eNabling One Web), we were confronted with exactly that need. This led to the development of the SNOW multi-device emulator — a way to test the operation of a website on a wide range of devices.
What is it?
The SNOW multi-device emulator provides an easy way to test the behavior of a site on multiple devices. It can be accessed at http://codewithsnow.com/emulator. The emulator accurately renders any website on many devices used to access the web, including smartphones, tablets, phablets, desktop browsers, and even hybrid apps. It also offers pre-configured groups so you can simultaneously test your website on a selection of popular smartphones and tablets.
The emulator also offers much more than just a quick way of seeing how your site looks in every major device or browser; it lets you access every page of that website within any of the dozens of devices it includes, and even the execution of videos, animations and other rich-media assets. We invite you to check it out and let us know how it helps in your development process.
To get access to the emulator, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There has been lots of news the last few days about Google making changes to its search algorithm and using mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. This is not new news, as Google announced this back in February, along with a guide for mobile-friendly sites and testing tools to give website developers time to make necessary changes to their websites.
So, it is a good day to ask yourself whether your site is mobile-friendly or not?
Today, with changes to its search algorithm, Google has unequivocally stated that mobile friendliness will directly impact a site’s ranking in its search results, and thus how well your company is able to reach and engage with your customers. Google constantly tweaks its search algorithm, so just the mere fact that the company is announcing changes to its algorithm (and thus the amount of news coverage in both technology and mainstream publications), we can expect to see big fluctuations in search results and site traffic patterns.
Whether you are positively or negatively impacted is a function of whether or not your site renders well on mobile devices. In other words, if you have a responsive web site or dedicated mobile site, then you are OK, but if your users are going to a full website on their mobile device, and having to pinch and drag their way to read text and view content, then you are moving down the list and can expect to see lower traffic, lower conversions and lower revenue.
Here at Trilibis, we have long been champions for having a mobile-friendly site and see it as table stakes for an effective digital marketing strategy. Being mobile-friendly is more than just spacing between text and buttons, and fitting the screen width dimension. It is also about performance and site-load time, as well as controlling for device specific features and functions. That is why we created SNOW: to deliver the best possible user experience across all devices from a single codebase. By definition, a site using SNOW is mobile-friendly and optimized at the server for performance.
As we reported last year, the Trilibis SNOW® Image Optimization solution (SNOW IO) has been validated for use with IBM® WebSphere® Commerce. Installed as a simple plug-in on any IBM WebSphere Commerce server, SNOW IO automatically identifies images used on every web page and optimizes them for thousands of devices. At runtime, SNOW IO works in conjunction with the web server to identify the type of device that is accessing the website, and to ensure it is served only images optimized for that specific device.
This brings instant performance improvements via dynamic image optimization to thousands of retail websites built using IBM’s advanced ecommerce platform. As part of the process, Trilibis officially became an IBM Business Partner and joined IBM PartnerWorld as an Omni-Channel In-Store & Mobile solution to help IBM WebSphere Commerce users integrate SNOW IO with their websites.
You may have been wondering how this integration works and how to configure SNOW IO. In response, Bob Balfe, worldwide technical sales leader for IBM’s Commerce program, has just published a helpful video to take you through the technical aspects of SNOW IO, how it’s configured within WebSphere Commerce, and how it optimizes images that used in your IBM Aurora storefront. As you’ll see, it’s pretty simple.
The resulting performance increases can be dramatic. During tests that we conducted with IBM, SNOW IO reduced the image weight of IBM WebSphere Commerce pages by 23 to 61 percent. While a number of factors contribute to the overall weight of a web page, in a recent survey of top responsive websites, we found that the size of website images is a significant contributor to lengthy page-load times on mobile devices. SNOW IO can reduce page weight from megabytes to kilobytes, and shave valuable seconds off overall page-load times.
The combination of Trilibis SNOW IO and IBM WebSphere Commerce addresses a key objective for all online retailers: delivering the best possible customer experience across all devices.
Study Reveals Majority of Leading Business and Technology News Websites Using Responsive Design Perform Poorly on Mobile DevicesMarch 11th, 2015 by Trilibis Blogging Team
Study concludes that responsive design is not meeting a crucial design objective for these publishers, and highlights the need for image size optimization for mobile users.
SAN MATEO, Calif.-March 12, 2015: A survey published today by Trilibis found that the majority of top news websites performs poorly when viewed on a smartphone or tablet. In an analysis of 100 business, technology and entertainment news websites that employ responsive design, Trilibis found that only 26 percent load in less than four seconds on a mobile device, and 27 percent take more than 8 seconds to load. These tests were conducted on a 4G network and should be considered “best-case” scenarios.
“Page loading time is an important part of the user experience for every website – but especially for news sites and blogs,” said Ted Verani, SVP of sales and marketing at Trilibis. “If a page loads slowly on mobile phones, visitors will go elsewhere for their news. Additionally, page-load time on mobile is now a key factor in determining search engine rankings, and also has bearing on the advertising value of a news blog or website.”
1. The page weights of the responsive news media sites in the survey were predominantly high
- 58 percent served pages of which images constituted more than half of overall page weight; 5 percent of the sample served home pages with page weight consisting of more than 90 percent images
2. 74 percent performed badly on mobile phones:
- Only 26 percent provided acceptable page-load times
- 47 percent were bad (4 – 8 seconds to load)
- 27 percent were very slow (8 – 35 seconds to load)
3. Image optimization by device type can reduce image weight by 47–79 percent.
4. Server-side image optimization delivered compelling performance gains on mobile devices:
- Average image weight was reduced by 79 percent
- Page-load times were reduced by as much as 48 percent
Survey highlights the need for image size optimization for mobile users
Tests conducted by Trilibis determined that image size was the primary cause of the sluggish performance. By analyzing the page composition of each website, Trilibis determined that the mean home page weight of the sites in the sample was 2.4MB, with a median weight of 1.6MB. For desktop computers with high-bandwidth connections and abundant local resources (disk, RAM), page weight is not a major concern – but, for mobile devices, it certainly is.
While a number of factors can contribute to the overall weight of a web page, the size of images is typically one of the most important. This is particularly true for image-rich business and technology news websites. Trilibis examined the relationship between image weight and overall page weight of the 100 news websites in the sample, and found that images constituted more than 50 percent of overall page weight for 58 percent of the sample.
When it analyzed page-load times, Trilibis found this was acceptable (i.e. less than four seconds) for only 26 percent of the sites surveyed. Page-load times were between 4-8 seconds for 47 percent of the sample, and in excess of 8 seconds for 27 percent.
Device awareness + responsive design yields benefits
Trilibis also looked at whether image optimization could deliver a lower page weight without compromising user experience, and whether server-side processing could improve website performance on mobile devices. Before server-side optimization, the total image weight of all 64 responsive websites was 81MB. Trilibis’ device detection and image optimization technology dramatically reduced the page weight for every class of device: down to 43MB for desktop browsers, 18MB for tablets, and 17MB for smartphones (a reduction in page weight of 47 percent, 78 percent and 79 percent, respectively).
Ted Verani of Trilibis noted that, for many of the news websites in the sample, the use of responsive design was not meeting a crucial design objective: delivering an excellent experience for mobile visitors. “The news blogs and websites in this survey are typically heavily trafficked, highly dynamic, and image-rich. In terms of revenue generation, publishers are principally concerned with page views and engagement — both of which can be negatively affected by longer page-load times. In addition, publishers aim to cultivate reader loyalty, which could also be negatively affected by a sub-par user experience,” he said.
Recommendations for website designers
- Carefully managing image size is crucial to ensure responsive websites load quickly and deliver the best experience for mobile users.
- Delivering a truly exceptional user experience on the Web requires more than simply redefining layout and styling for the screen width of a particular device. A successful One Web strategy should optimize website assets for specific classes of mobile device.
- To optimize performance on mobile devices, consider the use of server-side technologies in conjunction with responsive design techniques. For this survey, Trilibis used SNOW IO (Software eNabling One Web), its server-side technology that adds automatic device detection and image optimization to responsive websites.
Trilibis® is an experienced player in the mobile and multi-device web development community. Our flexible technology solutions and software simplify multi-device web development for top consumer brands, such as Abbott, CNN, Fandango, Match.com and Univision, as well as enterprise software solutions like HP and IBM. SNOW®, the company’s core product, is the first markup-based, server-side responsive design technology for a true “One Web” experience. SNOW enables developers to create device-optimized, high-performance websites that work perfectly on all PCs, tablets and smartphones. Trilibis is a private, venture-backed company located in San Mateo, California. For more information, visit www.trilibis.com or follow @trilibismobile
Copyright 2015 Trilibis Inc. All rights reserved. Trilibis and SNOW are trademarks of Trilibis Inc. Other trademarks are registered trademarks and the properties of their respective owners.
Trilibis Brings Server-Based Mobile Device Optimization to High-Performance Node.js Websites #nodesummitFebruary 11th, 2015 by Trilibis Blogging Team
SNOW works server-side on node.js websites to take responsive design to an entirely new level of performance and presentation, minimizes network bandwidth, and accelerates page-load times..
SAN MATEO, Calif.— February 11, 2015: Trilibis, the company that makes websites device-aware, announced that its market-leading SNOW® (Software eNabling One Web) website optimization framework can now deliver server-side responsive web capabilities on Node.js enterprise websites. The combination of the asynchronous and highly scalable capabilities of Node.js and SNOW’s instantaneous device detection ensures all website visitors are guaranteed an excellent experience and fast website load times across all devices, even at peak load conditions.
SNOW adds mobile device-specific optimization to responsive Node.js websites
Designing website for optimal performance and content presentation on mobile devices has become a high priority for every enterprise. Responsive design, a popular web design methodology, employs a client-side design methodology that only partially addresses the need to deliver an excellent experience for all devices. And, because responsive design relies on the browser to optimize a web page for the device, it frequently results in longer page-load times — a major concern for operators of websites with massive simultaneous transactions. The solution: Trilibis SNOW for Node.js, which optimizes web pages for every device and adds intelligent device classification that allows for segmentation by device type, screen resolution, browser, features, and more.
SNOW can reduce hosting bandwidth costs of Node.js web servers
With the addition of the SNOW device optimization plug-in, a Node.js web server can detect and profile each client device as it accesses the website, identify its type and features, then serve up only the HTML, CSS and images required by that particular device. This yields two key benefits:
- Significantly higher performance than that offered by classic responsive design techniques. SNOW reduces the payload served to mobile devices by a factor of four and reduces page-load time by as much as 25 percent.
- Web users, especially those with mobile devices, are assured a fast, device-optimized website experience.
“Enterprises that choose Node.js to power their web servers are aiming for the highest levels of performance, both server-side and client-side,” said Meyyappan Alagappan, chief technology officer at Trilibis. “SNOW delivers performance gains on both sides of the equation, and offers the additional benefit of enabling UX developers to customize the presentation of content on any device.”
Trilibis develops SNOW®, a markup-based RESS website optimization solution that uses a single code base to make websites device-aware and deliver a true “One Web” experience. SNOW enables developers to design high-performance websites that work flawlessly on all desktop and mobile browsers, and to unlock device-specific features and functionality that make websites mobile-ready, delightful and profitable. Trilibis is a private, venture-backed company located in San Mateo, California. For more information, visit www.trilibis.com or follow @trilibismobile.
Copyright 2015 Trilibis Inc. All rights reserved. Trilibis and SNOW are trademarks of Trilibis Inc. Other trademarks are registered trademarks and the properties of their respective owners.
This year’s NRF “Big Show” was big indeed — larger than life, in fact (it filled up the Javits center quite nicely). A huge range of companies, ranging from ecommerce platforms, digital development, cloud marketing, and near-field communication services, to offerings from hardware vendors such as beacons, point-of-sale registers and receipt printer companies were represented… and that’s just to name a few.
With so many companies in one place vying for the attention of the wandering ‘golden’ retailer with deep pockets and open purchase orders, it is no surprise that each vendor booth is trying to outdo the next to rise above the noise and get noticed. The result is a sensory assault of bright lights, big signs, gimmicks, giveaways and a general hustle to get yet-to-be-customers to bite. All which can be a little overwhelming at times.
At shows like this, it’s very easy to get distracted and waste one’s time. So it’s important to go in with specific objectives in mind. Ours were to reinforce relationships with existing partners and to connect with potential partners. Often, these partner meetings held are on different floors with restricted access, or in private meeting rooms that overlook the conference floor. I would equate this to being on the floor of a casino, then moving to high-rollers area or table to do your business.
Our business conversations at the show were laser-focused on our ability to provide performance and bandwidth optimization for responsive web design — an approach to web design that is getting increasing attention from retailers. All of our meetings were planned well ahead with specific outcomes in mind. We learned that most, if not all, of our partners are being asked by their customers to implement responsive web design. Even though these partners are trying to educate their customers about the performance challenges inherent with this approach, their customers often still want to push ahead. Which is where Trilibis comes in: we can assist by providing a plug-in technology that automatically optimizes performance and bandwidth on responsive sites across all mobile devices.
One side effect of being so focused at a show like this is that the big trends, professionally marketed or generally inferred, are somehow subconsciously absorbed or read about later on the plane back home. To bastardize a John Lennon quote, NRF trends are what happen while you’re making other meeting plans at the show. That said, as I look back, there were some pretty cool trends and announcements — here are a few worthy of note:
- IBM’s Watson is now a Personal Shopper – IBM’s omnipotent big data machine now helps personalize the shopping experience, reducing shopping cart abandonment.
- HP announced its ElitePad Mobile Retail Solution – a tablet solution to help streamline POS checkout. It plugs right in to HP Retail Expansion Dock and accepts third-party payment entry devices.
- Panasonic introduced the Powershelf – this is basically a smart retail shelf with the ability to auto-change shelf labels, indicate the shelf is low on product inventory, provide mobile advertising through embedded beacons, and more.
- Verifone and Samsung announced a global partnership – aimed at delivering advanced, Android-based mobile point of sale (mPOS) solutions to multi-lane and enterprise retailers.
- SAP SE announced plans to launch the SAP Assortment Planning for Retail application – this enables retailers to cluster stores based on attributes to help maximize profits.
- Tyco Retail Solutions and Creative systems are partnering to accelerate delivery of RFID-based inventory visibility applications for retailers globally.
- Beacons and NFC are the next phase in tying together brick-and-mortar stores with the digital shopper – this was probably the biggest trend and noise at the show.
- Consumers are mobile and social – this is so 2013!
- Loyalty programs work when executed correctly – and they also work when executed poorly.
- Beacons, beacons, and more beacons!
Sounds like a pretty cool show; I wish I had been there. Oh, wait a second…
With the holiday season now in full swing, analyses of the role mobile plays in commerce are showing up in my mailbox every day. The mobile share of all e-tail transactions is now anywhere from 30% to more than 50%, depending on which report you read. And, predictably, much of the commentary focuses on the share of smartphones and tablets, because these are the preferred devices of the affluent mobile shopper. We certainly saw that shift coming and made the jump to OneWeb technologies so that our customers and partners could be on the forefront of multi-device web design.
However, it is interesting to note that there are millions of feature phones still in use. In fact, according to Gartner, it wasn’t until 2013 that annual sales of smartphone users surpassed sales of feature phones. While there’s been a definite market shift away from the ‘m’ domain that was the norm before the dawn of the smartphone and responsive design, the largest brands with millions of users still have sizable audiences using these devices. This poses a real problem for web development teams, many of which have been focused on smartphone- and tablet-centric web strategies such as responsive web design, mobile-first design and adaptive design.
A great example of a large media player that must look both forwards and backwards with its web strategy is CNN. Until recently, CNN had been managing two m-dot sites using a third-party proprietary platform that was scheduled to become obsolete. CNN still had a sizable audience that used older phones, and felt strongly that it wanted to serve its news to all devices — from the newest iPhone to the oldest Blackberry.
That being the case, the web group that oversees CNN.com and CNNMoney.com approached Trilibis to develop a long-term solution that would enable them to provide an optimized experience for the older mobile devices that are still in use. With our years of mobile expertise, mobile publishing technologies and a device database that includes thousands of mobile phones, we were able to offer an integrated solution that included both non-touch smartphones and feature phones. So, if you happen to be walking around with a feature phone, launch that WAP browser and go to m.cnn.com to see their new site.
While our focus is decidedly on the future and helping brands move to a One Web experience using SNOW, our server-side responsive design technology, it is kind of cool to be able to build a simpler site that will run on these older phones. I wonder if situations like this will become more commonplace in future as m-dot expertise and turnkey solutions become obsolete. If you still have a lot of users on feature phones or just think it is important for your brand to be represented on all platforms, let’s talk. Please contact us here.