Five Reasons Why HTML5 Rocks For Mobile

Andrew Holden is co-founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO) at Weever Apps. Andrew is a web development expert and frequently writes about mobile visitor engagement and online best practices.

HTML5 is everywhere this year!  Google supports it.  Facebook’s all over it.  It’s clear that HTML5 is the future for mobile.

Ok, that’s cool. So what is HTML5 and what does it do for mobile?

Great question! HTML5 is the latest version of HTML – the standard for presenting and structuring content on the World Wide Web.  One of the great advancements with HTML5 is that it allows websites to function like mobile apps by offering design capability that is mobile friendly, as opposed to laptop/desktop friendly.  This means websites can be designed to fit mobile screens and have a user interface that is easy to control and highly functional with a touch screen. The term used for this technology is “web app”.

For practical purposes, there are two ways to implement a “web app”.

  1. Websites can be designed so that they can scale from a desktop monitor down to a smart phone screen.
  2. An independent web app can be designed, which will open when a website is accessed on a mobile device.

This new approach of presenting mobile content is breaking down barriers – including time, money, and the ubiquitous App Store.  The doors are now being opened to individuals and small business.  Big players are also gravitating to this alternative as they recognize the benefits.

Here are the facts about the mobile market:  50% of all local searches are now on mobile devices.  This is largely due to smart phone ownership surpassing cell phone ownership in the US and other countries.  Despite this notable adoption, most businesses don’t have any mobile solution of any kind – let alone the subsequent marketing benefits.  Unfortunately, traditional app development is just too time-consuming, expensive, and technical.

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Bing Undergoes Redesign

I would guess not many of you have noticed this, since much of our audience probably regards Bing as a joke, but the team over at Bing has redesigned their search results pages. The page is now much cleaner than it once was, with a true no-nonsense feel. The only items on the page are the search results, one or two ads and a list of related searches.

In addition to cleaning up the overall design by removing all of the color splashes and by moving the related search list from the left to the right, they’ve also removed your search history and the ability to narrow your search results by time period.

Although the page’s color palette now resemble Google more than it ever has before, the actual layout of the page is much more minimal than Google’s current design. Below, I’ve included a comparison of Bing and Google. Both searches were performed within an incognito window, so I am not signed into either service. If you’re interested in more details about the redesign, you can view the official post on the Bing blog.

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Using Media Queries on Windows Phone

More than likely, you probably haven’t noticed, but Windows Phone 7 devices don’t fully support media queries (used mostly for responsive and adaptive designs). However, media queries can be used for designs presented on Windows Phone, you just have to know how to do it.

For the most part, I have seen designers and developers include media queries within their stylesheet(s). Windows Phone 7 will ignore media queries directly in your CSS. Instead, you have to set up separate stylesheets for each media query. For instance, rather than having the following code in your main stylesheet:

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WordPress 3.3.2 Released

In the midst of preparing WordPress 3.4 as a stable public release, the WordPress team chose to put out a security update. WordPress 3.3.2 includes a handful of bugfixes for WordPress itself, but also includes security updates to three of the external libraries included with WordPress.

One of those external libraries is Plupload, which is used by WordPress to implement the current media uploader. Plupload is a library developed by the team behind TinyMCE, and supports uploads using HTML5, Silverlight, Flash and more so that it will work in almost any browser. In December, a security update was released for Plupload that stops cross-domain scripting in the Flash portion of the library. That update was included in the new version of WordPress.

The other two libraries are no longer used by WordPress out-of-the-box, but they remain packaged with the system for backwards-compatibility reasons.

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WordPress 3.4 Beta 1 Released

Last week the WordPress team released beta 1 of WordPress 3.4. The blog post announcing the release clearly and boldly recommends that this beta version should NOT be used in a production environment. The goal is to release version 3.4 in a production-ready state in May. Here are some of the new bits in WordPress 3.4:

  • Theme Customizer with Previewer
  • Flexible Custom Header Sizes
  • Selecting Custom Header and Background Images from Media Library
  • Better experience searching for and choosing a theme

And some of the under-the-hood changes:

  • New XML-RPC API for external and mobile applications
  • New API for registering theme support for custom headers and backgrounds
  • Performance improvements to WP_Query by splitting the query (Please test!)
  • Internationalization improvements (improved performance and locale support)
  • Performance and API improvements when working with lists of installed themes
  • Support for installing child themes from the WordPress Themes Directory

If you find a bug while testing version 3.4, the WordPress team asks that you post the details in their alpha/beta forum.

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.eduGuru Summit 2012 – Virtual Marketing & Technology Conference

In just a few weeks, I’ll be presenting a session explaining how to write a quick WordPress shortcode, and then explaining how simple it is to turn it into a widget. If you’re interested in attending this presentation, I encourage you to do so.

In addition to my presentation, you can attend six fantastic presentations on marketing strategies and five other awesome sessions on development and technology.

All of these presentations are part of the 2012 .eduGuru Summit, a virtual conference targeted at Web and marketing professionals in education. Just because it’s targeted at people in higher education, though, doesn’t mean that the lessons learned and knowledge shared at the conference are exclusive to higher education.

The conference is being held on April 10 and 11 this year. The best part about the conference? It’s completely virtual. You can attend from the comfort of your own desk (you might, though I do not guarantee this in any way, even be able to attend the conference using your iPad).

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First Impressions of Windows 8

Windows 8A few days ago, I went ahead and installed the Consumer Preview of Windows 8. To say I’m impressed would be understating things a bit. As a Windows Phone 7 user for the last 16 or 17 months, I have become extremely familiar with the metro UI, and am overjoyed to see it coming to the desktop. The whole experience so far has actually inspired me to seriously consider buying a new touch-enabled PC (my current PC is over 5 years old at this point, so it’s probably time to update anyway).

What’s Right About Windows 8?

The new interface is inspired. It’s unique, and it’s easy to use. If you’re a long-time PC user, Windows 8 will require you to entirely rethink how you use your computer; but in a good way. No longer do you have a “Desktop” (well, you do, but it’s an app within Windows 8). Instead, you have a screen full of tiles that you click or tap to open applications. All of your applications (with the exception of apps that have to run inside of the Desktop app) open fullscreen with no chrome around them. Each native app has 3 different formats: Full screen; minimal snapped; and maximum snapped.

When an app is full screen, it takes up the entire screen (duh!). Nothing else appears on the screen at all. You can bring up context menus for various actions by right-clicking (I’m not sure what the multitouch gesture is). You can then “snap” an app to the left or right of your screen. When an app is first “snapped”, it appears in a minimal state. It only takes up about a quarter of your screen’s width, leaving the other three-quarters available for another app. Then, you can open a second app to show up in the larger portion of your screen.

Want to keep an eye on the weather while surfing the Web? Snap your weather app to the left or right, and open IE in the rest of your screen. Want to keep your email visible while you’re playing PinballFX? Snap the Mail app to your screen and open up the game you want to play. If you get an important email while you’re in the middle of your game, you can either handle the email message in it’s minimal state, or you can double click the divider bar to maximize the Mail app (snapping your other active app to the other side of your screen).

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Saying Good-bye to Brizzly

It’s been quite a while since I’ve tried to use Brizzly, but I did enjoy the features they offered. For a long time, it was one of the few Web-based interfaces I could use to manage my social media accounts. The other day, when I was temporarily using a computer that didn’t have Chrome installed (so I couldn’t use ChromeDeck), I tried visiting Brizzly only to find that they were shuttering the service.

Today, the official notice went out to Brizzly users. Following is the message that was sent out:

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Using Custom Post Meta to Retrieve WordPress Posts

The other day, I was in the process of setting up some custom post meta for an event post type. I needed to add a start date/time and an end date/time for the event as custom meta information. Once I got all of that set up, I needed to modify the loop so that it retrieved the events in order of their start date/time; but I also needed to make sure I only retrieved events that hadn’t yet ended (based on their end date/time).

In the past, this wasn’t really possible with WordPress. You could either order posts by a custom meta value, or you could limit your query to posts that had a specific custom meta value, but you couldn’t do both. Then, in version 3.1 of WordPress, the meta_query was introduced to the WP_Query class. Now, however, you can use the traditional orderby and meta_key properties to sort your posts by a specific meta value; and you can use the meta_query property to limit the posts that are returned.

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HoverIntent in WordPress

Whenever you’re working on a new WordPress theme that includes hover (mouseover) effects, especially dropdown or flyout menus, you might want to include hoverIntent. HoverIntent is a term that describes a concept through which you delay a hover action until a certain amount of time has passed, in order to make sure that the user really intended to trigger that action.

We’ve all been on websites with dropdown menus that tend to get in the way of the content, and pop open as soon as your mouse touches even a small portion of them, and we’ve most likely all been annoyed by it. The idea behind hoverIntent is to measure the speed of the mouse movement, attempting to determine whether the user actually intended to stop on the item or not. If the mouse just moves over an item with a hover effect, but doesn’t stop on it, the hover effect should not be triggered; if, however, the user’s mouse does slow down enough or stop on the item, the hover effect should be triggered.

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