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Category Archives: App Development




I’m Obsessed with the New Instagram Update

Instagram has had a very similar UI since it was created. The tired old brown icon has occupied a space on the grid of my phone screen(s) for almost six years, but I’ve been using it less frequently over time. Simply put, I just got bored of it. The content became less interesting (blaming the friends I follow for that one) and the stagnant, dated UI didn’t compel me to check this drab feed of selfies and memes. Luckily, the update I got this morning for Instagram caught my attention immediately, and may have breathed new life into the application entirely.

Instagram ditched the brown and beige icon for a very eye catching gradient. The app itself has lost most of its color, opting for almost entirely black and white UI with a pink color for elements like notifications. It looks very “Apple”, and we’re expecting a similar look coming to Apple Music soon, which won’t matter to Android/Windows users, but there is definitely something that can be taken away from this update and the effect its having on users.

Instagram UI Update

Through exploring, I have found very few new features in the newest Instagram update, so it’s safe to say this is solely a UI update, and I’m so excited to use it again. As a developer or business owner, it would be worthwhile to take this into consideration for the systems your customers use. If adding new features or services isn’t having the effect you expected, or just isn’t something you’re doing right now, a new look can be enough to trigger more engagement.

Keeping your UI up to the current trends is critical to maintain and expand your user base. Unless you’re offering a highly specialized product, chances are there’s a competitor out there whose website or app has a cleaner, more user-friendly design. Users will gravitate towards interfaces that look simple, make it obvious where they should navigate to get their desired result. Using familiar elements to your design will make the user feel like they know what they’re doing, even if they’re seeing it for the first time.

Responsive Design v. Mobile Website: What’s the Difference?

Mobile website_responsive designShould you have a mobile website or a responsive website?

This is a debate among website developers, SEO companies, and business owners alike. As a decision maker within your company, how do you determine which is the best platform for your business?

What is the difference between the two platforms?

A mobile site is a replica of your website, optimized to be viewed on smaller screens such as phones and tablets. In this instance, the server does the work to deliver a page that is smaller, easier to navigate, and loads quickly. It is important to point out that having a dedicated mobile app created for your website is not the same as having a website that is optimized for mobile.

With responsive design, the website has been coded to recognize what is accessing it, and automatically adjusts according to a device’s screen size and orientation. After the device is identified (phone, desktop, etc.) the best version of the site for that particular device is rendered. Well-designed responsive sites will deliver the same comfort and usability to the mobile user as the desktop user.

Important considerations you should know about mobile sites and responsive design: 

Domain Identification

A mobile site has a separate domain from your main site: m.domain.com which identifies it as mobile only.  Changes made to a website need to be made on both the standard site as well as the mobile site. It is more costly to have a developer maintain both sites, and – if you’re not very careful – can cause for a disjointed user experience.

With responsive design you have just one URL for your website.  Any changes made to the site rollout through desktop and mobile simultaneously.

Search Engines Favor Responsive Design

Statistics report that 65% of website traffic comes from Google, which makes their opinion crucial in your decision to create a responsive website. Google prefers responsive web design because content that lives on one website and one URL is much easier for users to share, interact with, and link to than content that lives on separate mobile sites.

User Experience

Responsive design allows for a cohesive user experience; one website that looks equally awesome on all types of devices. A website optimized for mobile will, in most cases, sacrifice content for usability. A desktop user and a mobile user probably won’t consume the same content, and it’d certainly be delivered in two very different ways. In this case, a website designed specifically for mobile will deliver a better experience to the mobile user. However, if someone were to share you mobile site with someone using a desktop, his or her experience would be rather poor. While mobile sites look awesome on mobile, they do not have the ability (like responsive websites) to look awesome on any other platform.

Looking for More Information on Responsive Design or Mobile Websites?

Call 866-820-8910 today and speak to one of our Project Managers regarding your website needs.  Our design team will collaborate with you to create a visually appealing Digital Storefront designed to attract and convert potential clients for your business.

We’re Here to Help: Newtek Professional Services

iStock_000018278455SmallAs a small business-centric company, we understand that many of our customers face limited personnel, budgetary, and technology resources. This is why we offer a range of professional services to address various needs beyond the core technology products we provide and support.

It’s important to note that when we say professional services, we are not referring to general customer and technical support – if you have an issue or need assistance with something, our customer and technical support teams are always available, 24/7/365, at no additional cost. That’s a benefit you receive as a customer. But if you need help beyond that – if you need help manually installing an app, or configuring your server, or redesigning your website, or need someone to setup and configure new email accounts (and so on) – our teams of professionals are here to help at an affordable rate.

CONTACT A CUSTOMER SUPPORT SPECIALIST:

1.877.323.4678 | techservice@thesba.com

Types of Professional Services, with examples:

Web Design and Development

  • Custom-built websites or applications
  • Website modifications/improvements
  • Budget-friendly business websites

Digital Marketing

  • Search engine marketing/optimization
  • Digital advertising

Server Work Requests

  • Application installs (must be applications/software our engineers have experience working with)
  • Server configurations
  • (Servers with the Managed Server Care Bundle receive 3 hours/month of work requests at no additional charge)

Server or Website Migrations

  • Moving from on-premise to off-premise systems
  • Moving from one hosted system to another
  • Moving a website from another hosting company to Newtek

Extended Support/Concierge Requests

  • Application installations
  • Email setup
  • Spam and content filtering configuration
  • DNS modifications
  • Database imports and exports
  • .htaccess re-direction
  • much more!

Bottom line: If you need help with something, let us know. While we can’t do everything under the sun, our teams of professionals are here to help your businesses as much as we can.

Please note that rates vary based on request type.

4 Signs Your Biz. Is Ready For a Mobile App

HiResFor the last few years, mobile app usage has grown to such a colossal point that lately it seems like every business thinks it’s a necessary part of their development; “App up or perish in obscurity” is the new thinking. The problem: not every small business needs a mobile app, nor does

If you develop an app that your customers never end up using, not only will you have wasted significant money, but every time someone looks at your app, sitting unused on their device, they will begin to subconsciously associate your company is stagnancy and irrelevance – not exactly great branding. This is what we mean when we say that as much as a well-timed, highly engaging app can give your company a marked boost, an app that serves no practical purpose can do more than fail to help your company – it can actually hurt it.

If your company is currently debating whether or not to take your business mobile, take note of the following 4 signs. These are good markers for whether or not mobile app development would be a smart use of your time and resources.

1.     You have enough money

Mobile app development is not cheap, nor should it be. By now, there are individuals and companies out there who offer super cheap mobile apps but this is a situation where you truly do get what you pay for. The only thing worse than not having a mobile app when you could genuinely benefit from one is having one that looks or functions cheaply. Don’t cut corners here: if you don’t have enough money to hire a fantastic developer, you don’t have enough money for a mobile app right now.

2.     Your app opens growth potential

Like any other investment you make, there needs to be a possibility that the addition of a mobile app to your customer outreach arsenal is going to foster growth for your company. How exactly that looks for your business is a very unique formula, but that’s what makes the research part before development so crucial – you need to identify which parts of your market you aren’t currently fully engaged in, figure out how to reach them, and brainstorm ways to trigger that engagement with a mobile app. Until you’ve figured out that equation, there’s no real reason to dig into the process of going mobile.

3.     Your app fills a need in your market

You absolutely must check out what your competition is doing in the mobile market (and really, you should always be aware of your competition, not just when it comes to mobile) before you solidify your plans. Even companies who offer similar services and products can function very differently in terms of what their mobile app does. Ideally, your app will be the only one to fill a certain need in a market.

4.     Your app serves your business model

For example, if you run a yoga studio, maybe your app allows students to sign up for classes, pay their dues, and check schedules. The idea is to find a way to have an app support your preexisting business model, not create some brand new service or function that you didn’t have before.

[Newsticker] New Disney Touchscreen Lets Viewers “Feel” Textures

screen-shot-2013-10-12-at-12-25-39-pm1Disney is truly taking their world-renowned interactive experience to the next level, having developed a way for your hand to actually “feel” a texture upon a touchscreen – without changing the surface of the screen.

Yep. The future is quite literally at hand.

By utilizing a series of electric “zaps” it can recreate the feeling of a particular texture to a subject’s interacting fingertips, while the related images appear on a screen.

[source: Mail Online]

The Algorithm You DON’T Know About (Yet) That’s About to CHANGE the WORLD

GS2The debate about which computer algorithm is truly “the most important” rages on. Yet, in most circles, there are a few answers that are generally accepted (and they usually appear in this order):

  1. Binary search – the first non-trivial algorithm that most learn and still do today.
  2. Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) – amazing. When combined with Convolution theorem, it’s close to magic.
  3. Hashing – thought it’s not actually and algorithm, it is one of Computer Science’s most powerful ideas.

Now, there are a few others, but that’s them just above, for the most part. Wait. Hold up. We are talking about changing the world here. And despite our tech-savvy audience, this may all sound like gibberish.

Let’s back up a minute.

Just so we’re all on the same page, an algorithm may “sort of” be defined as an effective method by which to solve a problem, expressed as a finite list. In short, an algorithm might be best expressed as “a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations.”

Now the list above certainly contains the ingredients of such iterations that have undeniably changed the way we connect with and “see” our world. But, today’s article is about something just a tad more mainstream (unless you are a developer and understand the sheer beauty of the previously listed examples.)

Time to switch gears. Know anything about the stock market?

Well, the best and most highly compensated traders on Wall Street have gained huge amounts of wealth with a benchmark of being correct on their trades approximately 56 percent of the time. To put that in perspective, that’s a mere smidge above 50 percent, or a simple flip of an unbiased coin. To them, the difference really is just a smidge.

Now traders don’t place trades on every stock. No, they gather information, widdle down their choices to a select few, and then try to make educated guesses about what’s to come. They use tons of software, formulas, theorems, gut feelings, historical precedent, and yes, algorithms as tools to make better decisions. Again, the great ones – they’re right about 56 percent of the time. And those people … trust me, they’re loaded (and regarded as super hero’s amongst the financial world’s elite.)

Now, keep in mind, the financial markets aren’t the only free trade market that garners the attention of all creatures great and small. Another one is resultant of all the action that takes place in the wide world of sports. You guessed it … wagering.

From Vegas, to Monte Carlo, to office pools, to high school locker rooms, wagers of all types are placed. Millions per day, in fact, with dollar figures extending beyond 10- to 100-times that. Internationally, this market (whether “above or below the line,” legally/geographically notwithstanding) is worth billions, upon billions … upon billions, of dollars.

So what’s the point?

Apparently, an upstart (or start-up, whichever you prefer) alliance of anonymous “Gray Suits” (allegedly a “coven” of mathematicians, computer scientists, finance guys, and perhaps one or two white-bearded wizards) have debuted their app, the Gray Suit Project, on both The App Store and Google Play (for Droid).

Here’s the thing, it predicts major North American sports outcomes at an unprecedented rate of nearly 65 percent. While the app is new, their audited results go back years. That means their new algorithm, is, well world-changing.

Why?

Well, they can’t predict the entire future. BUT … anyone with any sense can figure out what they CAN do. You see, when they pick (selections anointed as winners by their delicious, mysterious, and insanely private proprietary algorithm), they’re right a good bit more than half of the time. Yes, it seems they are predicting the future at a pace that means bankable results.

So, what’s the catch? Downloading the app will cost you 99 cents. Say what?

Now, if you want the day’s algorithm-selected picks for any of the particular sports on season … it’s another $1.99.

Um, yeah, a buck ninety-nine.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Right. Definitely not a serious price to pay for what amounts to MUCH more than a “smidge.” Something tells me these “Suits” are driven by something other than money. No, I would bet they are after something far bigger. They want to be right. They want to keep being right. And, while I don’t know for sure, I bet they aim to be right about a few more applications, beyond sports, as time passes – and, at least for now, it seems they’re beginning to get some attention. And I bet, they bet, that sports was the quickest way to get there.

Yeah, so I’m thinking this might be the just thing to DOMINATE my office football pool. Oh what, you’re not?

Find out more about the Gray Suit Project.

[News Ticker] Music Streaming Site Turntable.fm Debuts Two New Features

turntable-fm-avatarsThe streaming service Turntable.fm is one of my favorite things. It’s the perfect combination of internet radio and social network. It’s like a hundred different chat rooms for music lovers with around the clock, hand-selected, genre specific (or not if you prefer to keep things random), uninterrupted spins from like-minded humans around the U.S.

But the user interface (whilst whimsical and amusing) looks like a children’s game. Rendering it almost impossible to use at work, which is precisely where a never-ending loop of streaming music is most effective.

Lucky for me, and other office minions of the world, Turntable.fm has added a mini player! The mini player will display a very stripped-down version of Turntable rooms, which is particularly accommodating for users at work. Turntable CEO Billy Chasen says the new mini player was created for users that “just want to relax and listen.”

In addition to the mini player, Turntable.fm is launching a pay-what-you-wish premium membership called Turntable Gold. Admittedly, after using Turntable for free for over two years – I was a bit annoyed when I caught wind of this subscription news. But after checking it out, and verifying that it is actually pay-what-you-want ($1 – sorry not sorry), you’re looking at a new Turntable Gold Member. Of course the service is still available completely free, but the Gold addition gives users some fancy extras to spice up the environment a bit. If you haven’t already, I urge you, check out Turntable.fm. The service is available in a desktop version and as a native app for Android and iOS devices.

jp tt

The best room you ask? Why Trance Out! of course.

Downtime Communications Made Easy

statuspageStatusPage provides a service that all modern businesses need, but very little have the time or resources to produce correctly.

The high-flying start-up offers a hosted status page for any company with a website, service, or application. For those of us in the hosting industry, network problems are inevitable; and little is more infuriating than the dreaded outage or data center disaster. It’s only a matter of time before the angry phone calls begin to flood in, and social media pages are overtaken with negative comments and questions. Enter StatusPage.

The custom pages report downtime status, communicate issues, provide uptime reports, and other metrics to a businesses’ customer base. StatusPage also allows companies to communicate with customers directly about the issues and how they are being fixed – both within the website, and through email/text. Customers will also be able to find a history of previous incident reports within the site. Businesses can sign up for free and build their status page internally, and then pay if they choose to make it public – all under their own branding and domain of their choice.

Best part about StatusPage? It’s affordable. In fact, with the basic plan beginning at $19 per month, it is a service that’s hard to ignore.

[App Of The Week] IFTTT (If This Then That)

App-of-the-WeekWith all the different apps you use every day wouldn’t it be nice if they were all synched to make you more productive/efficient? What if when you added a new contact your email automatically sent a “great to connect with you” message? What if every time someone on Facebook or Instagram tagged you in a photo it automatically saved to your phone? Well, with the new App of the Week released today – all this is possible, and more.

If This Then That is a relatively simple app that allows you to make “recipes” for your Smartphone. The app links a multitude of applications on and allows them to communicate with each other in myriad new ways. It can even track websites for new information and send you a text with a link to the information when it detects certain key words. While features like this have been previously introduced, the notion that they are all available within one simple app is groundbreaking.

There are 67 different channels (apps) on this app including all social networks, email, SMS, and phone calls, just to name a few. The fact that IFTTT makes the process of setting up each individual recipe so simple and easy-to-understand is what gives this app boundless potential and a likelihood for widespread acceptance. Just check out some of the things you can do:

ifttt

[App Update] Just.me for Android

Just.me-logoMessaging app Just.me is ready to make bigger waves in the (increasingly) crowded mobile communications space, as it is now available on the Android platform. After pulling in over 250,000 iOS users in just 90 days, Just.me looks to control the post-traditional social networking mobile messaging boom. Apps such as WeChat in China, Line, and KakaoTalk have obtained “tens of millions of users apiece” since launching in 2011.

Just.me launched on iOS in April and places a strong emphasis on social features. The app supports one-on-one messaging, group messaging, and public broadcasts (similar to Twitter/Google +). The app can also function as a private journal or cloud storage service – like Evernote – sends/receives email, and video/voice phone calls.  As of Thursday, the app will allow limited correspondence for non-smartphone owners. Just.me is now live in the Google Play Store, check it out.

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