Category: Other cool stuff

Start-Up DNA: The Formula Behind Successful Start-ups

Yevgeniy Birkman has put together one of the most informative and interesting presentations on start-ups I’ve literally ever seen. There’s a lot of food for thought but what makes it special is that this is the view from someone who is in the trenches; a guy that is actually building everyday, not an investor, blogger, pundit, etc.  I’ve embedded it below, enjoy!

Thanks to big homie John Ruffolo (who you should follow) for the tweet helping me discover the slides.

Web Site vs. Web App: The Difference & Why You Care

Guest post by Jason Miller, my co-founder at Carbyn and an absolute engineering whiz. You can follow Jason at @_developit.

When Jaafer asked me to start pouring my tech savvy into a post I started thinking about what would make a great read; something that sticks to the purpose of this blog which is to provide objective free-wheeling thoughts and knowledge, mixed with some humor and maybe even little controversy (after all not everyone will agree with everything I or Jaafer say (even though everyone should!)). So, I decided to write about something that’s becoming an increasingly hot topic in the web/mobile community and has come to be a part of my everyday work (and thoughts)….and something that is effecting web and mobile users every single day.

What’s the difference between a web app and a web site; what differentiates these two seemingly similar but in realty very different entities?

Is a web app? Yes. Is this website a web app? No. Is Gmail a web app? That one is debatable, but yes. What even defines an online resource as being an “app” instead of a “site”? I think the most definitive answer is that web apps transfer presentation separately from data, and do not employ a strict request-response technique for doing so.

Your users called, they want their time back.

Users care about speed, functionality (therein usefulness) and ease-of use. As developers, we can draw rather direct parallels to the technical aspects of web development from these general requirements. For speed, and since this is the web, we’re talking almost exclusively about speed of data transfer (requests take much longer to transfer than to execute on the server). Functionality is created by selecting the most effective set of features for an application (more is not always better). Ease-of-use is important in web apps because we are still collectively helping computer users to adopt a new way of thinking about applications – if a user’s first web-based application experience is horrible, they will most likely avoid using web-based software in the future.

So.. why classify “apps” and “sites” based on what the data looks like?

Users care about speed, and we know speed is most affected by data transfer time, so that’s where we can draw a clear line between the “old” and “new” approaches. A website transfers data and formatting via a single request, which is optimal when loading new pages is the primary means of retrieving new data. A web app transfers formatting and presentation information as part of an initial download process, much like downloading a desktop application. Once this information has been stored, data is then downloaded in a serialized format – optimized for speed in a situation where page loads don’t occur. Examining the data being transferred makes it easy to determine which paradigm something is optimized for. Simply look to sites like Facebook and Twitter, where you can see an evolution in the direction of “web app” for no reason other than to provide a better experience to users.

Doesn’t that mean everything should be an app?

You’re not getting the point – that would be premature optimization at its finest. If you are establishing a web presence for a business, where your needs are little more than an online business card or simple e-commerce site, don’t build an app. Your time would be better spent working with the client to optimize their site for Search Engines or creating PPC landing pages. However, it would certainly be beneficial to apply lessons learned from the world of web apps to your website – things like HTML5’s ApplicationCache and AJAX history can go a long way to improve user experience. A general rule-of-thumb is this: if your project is web-based, data-driven and is its own product, a web app would be a wise choice.

So, there you have it. Apps, both web and native, have an initial download followed by speedy data transfer. Sites throw everything into a pile and download formatting intermixed with data.

How Apple Turns Customers into Fanatics

Just came across this great article from Neuromarketing that makes a pretty compelling case of the thinking behind Apple’s marketing efforts. Chalked full of insight from Psychologist Henri Tajfel’s seminal experiment on what drives people to commit genocide, to Seth Godin’s Tribes, and overall fostering of the ‘us vs. them’ mentality; it’s a very interesting read, check it out.

Google Instant Changes the Game: Forget SEO?

Google launched a new salvo in the search battle today and it’s a game changer. Say hello to Google Instant.

Basically, your results will change as you type. No more multiple search queries and result pages, just change what you’re typing until you see the results that match. This has huge ramifications for search engine optimization companies; although sites should still be “optimized”, the number of actual full searches and result pages returned just got obliterated.

I’ve never been a fan of SEO practices that rely on words on a page. These type of “SEO consultants” simply destroy great design and conversion rate in order to try to fulfill the promise of getting listed on search engines. What good is it if a consumer comes to your site only to run away quickly when being confronted with ugly, confusion? Concentrate on great content, navigation, and design to keep consumers engaged. Optimize as best you can without destroying experience and value.

The simple truth is that users will now spend less time on irrelevant results and adjust searches and results on the fly. Getting user attention will be more about content authority, not putting a bunch of keywords on your site.

Great job Google, you just made search a whole lot smarter and fun again.

Touch-Tablets Are the Future. A 3 year-old Says So.

I watched him as he focused his attention on game play, moving his eyes and fingers side to side. Level 10…level 11…level high score! He’s been on the iPhone for over an hour; something his parents aren’t thrilled about but will take the quiet time when they can get it. After all, 3 year olds can be a handful. Yes, my 3 year-old nephew is an iPhone gaming pro.

I’ve been mulling over whether the coming rush of touch tablets coming to market later this year will mark the future of computing or if they’ll continue to be a novel gadget appealing only to a niche audience of users. iPad sales are through the roof with 2 million in the first 60 days, but a hot product doesn’t spell a consumer revolution. New innovation replacing existing products wholesale is what dictate a new future (think LCD monitors replacing CRTs). In 10 years will we all be using tablets?

What happens when you give a 3 year-old an iPad and let him play with it for a few hours and then take it away and give him a netbook? He looks at it confused and then asks for the iPad back or he’ll throw a tantrum. Just like I expect to be able to do virtually anything online, he expects to be able to do anything by touching the screen. To him, the experience isn’t new and exciting, it’s just the way it is. Anything else doesn’t make sense.

Of course, the consumer behavior of my generation will dictate whether tablets cause a revolution. The more you can do and the easier you can do it on a tablet, the more likely we’ll be ready to ditch the laptops we’re used to.  The more we buy the more our kids enjoy. The more our kids enjoy, the more we’re likely to buy. There’s already helpful sites, like iPadfor Kids, advising parents on the benefits of the iPad and apps for kids.

Just like the rush of ideas, applications, and platforms that made the web a natural part of our lives, the rush of developers working to bring great ideas, experiences, and platforms to tablets have the power to make tablets the new digital ecosystem device.

To my nephew’s generation it’s natural already.