Six Eye-Opening Mobile Trends for 2016

Six Eye-Opening Mobile Trends for 2016

A big problem that so many businesses face is staying on top of what is new in the niche.  But just because something is hard does not mean it’s not possible.  Generating new ideas often comes after a good hard look at what’s on the horizon.  An easy and effective way to do this is with a close examination of what is trending in your business’ market.

Those of us in the mobile business face great challenges when it comes to following trends because technology is changing so fast.  As soon as one idea becomes popular, it is quickly washed away — only to be replaced by something newer, faster, smaller, and more portable.  That is unless you dig deep and find what is on the horizon.

Here are six eye-opening mobile trends for 2016.  By looking at them, you can help yourself think through your next mobile venture.

Keep Your Eye on These 6 Mobile Trends in 2016

Invest in Smart Phone App Development

Smart phones will soon be to future generations what rotary phones were to the “Happy Days” generation, and the numbers support this growth.  This means that the demand for applications for these phones will be on the rise.

Investing in smart phone app development will certainly yield profit.  In fact, Android’s market grew 65 percent in 2015.

Whether you are considering investing in an app for your business or you are tossing around the idea of starting a white label app development company of your own, you are certain to generate some income and stay current with the market trends.

Knowing How to Use Data Driven Decisions is the Key to Marketing

If your business is not using data to make decisions, it’s a good bet that you are close to (if not already) a failed venture.  You have to use data as the backbone of your decisions — especially if you are in the mobile industry.

Data acquisition in 2016 isn’t the challenge that it was years ago.  It has become much easier to collect and much easier to sort.  If you want numbers, you can get your hands on just about any type of numbers you want.  The key is what you do with those numbers.

Your goal should be to use the data to make connections with potential clients. So what if you know that Mrs. Smith visited Store XYZ seven times in the past month on her mobile device. The trick is finding out how Mrs. Smith’s visits to store XYZ can help your mobile business.

The first step in the puzzle is assuring that your IT department and your marketing department has clear lines of communication.  A solid plan for sharing the information is the first step to utilizing the data you collect.

From there, you need a good team that can actually interpret the data.  Ultimately, your goal in any mobile venture is to find a way to simplify the lives of users.  Your team of data analysts needs to be able to interpret the data and supply it to your marketing department.

After your marketing department is given numbers and statistics that are easy to understand, it needs to take creative and innovative risks based on the numbers.  The more you learn about mobile users and their patterns of use, the easier it will be to simplify their lives.

Of course, there are always going to be people who are just able to follow their gut when it comes to innovation and creative thinking.  If you have one of those guys on your team — you know the type, anything he touches turns to gold — don’t dismiss him.

But for the most effective and practical solutions, look at the data and invest in a team that can interpret the numbers to mean something beneficial to your mobile business.

Say What You Need to Say — 2016 Technology Has Your Back

Don’t hold back what’s on your mind.  In fact, in the near future, you will be able to speak it right to your computer.  The best part — it will understand you.  Many of the industries biggest and brightest are battling with young and innovative start-ups to see who will figure out the best and most effective way to use voice computer interfaces.

Most computers come equipped with some type of voice recognition software, but as we journey into the future, these software applications will become much more innovative, which will allow computers to become even more involved in our day to day routines.

Your desktop is not the only form of technology that is listening to what you have to say. Most mobile devices are already equipped with some sort of voice recognition. Mobile devices are also jumping on board to develop voice recognition apps.  Companies across the globe are looking to develop the most responsive voice apps to stay abreast of the changing trends in the mobile market.

While we are not reaching “Jetsons” status just yet, there are several companies breaking ground in this niche, and it is certainly something to pay close mind to.

“Push” Those Ads — It’s the New way to Spread the Word

Push notifications are a great way to get information into the hands of your customers, and the numbers support it.  First of all, 2/3 of the population owns a smart phone.  And that 66 percent of people check their phones approximately 46 times per day.

That means that you have 46 opportunities EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. to send push notifications to people who chose to download your app.

With modern technology, you can use radiused and geofenced push notifications to offer promotions to consumers when they are near your stores.  To top off the benefits of the push, the best part is there are character limits, so you can say what you need to say in a short and sweet notice.  There’s no need for elaborate and creative copy.

SMS Marketing is the New Social Media

The social media craze has made its mark in advertising — there’s not doubt there.  You have to have a strong social media presence so your customers can engage with your brand.  They virtually do the legwork for you by sharing what you have to say.  But, it’s time to look past social media.  You need to look for even faster and more personalized ways to reach people.

In the past, this was called telemarketing.  Today, telemarketing is a good way to upset people and get called a name or two.  But, this is largely because people are engaging less and less in phone conversations and more and more in text communication.

Phone calls are a thing of the past.  Heck, you don’t even need to call to order a pizza or make a hotel reservation anymore, you can just text your request.  In fact, the research shows that 73 percent of people text.  Of those 73 percent of people, 55 percent of them send over 50 text messages each day.  As SMS messaging becomes the preferred means of communications, it makes sense to use it to advertise.

SMS marketing lets your customers engage with your brand on a personal level.  In fact, app developers are making messaging platforms that are starting to rival the built-in texting applications that come with phones.  Products such as Handcent, Chomp, and Hoverchat, are dominating the Android market.

What this means to you is that you virtually have a direct line to your consumers pockets.  You can tell them everything they want to know about your product.

Let Millennials and Generation Z Guide Your Thinking

Gone are the days of, “If you will build it they will come.”  Today, app developers have to build apps to simplify the lives of their users.  Simply put, this means that you need to look at the subsets of consumers who have technology needs that need met.  Enter Millennials and Generation Z users.

These guys are the ones who are filling the social media feeds with their thoughts, and they are the ones advertising their every move online — and they are doing it from their smartphones.

This means opportunity for you.  What are they talking about?  What do they need?  These kids put it all out there.  Use this to your advantage.  Find out what they need based on what they are saying, then build it.

Conclusion

If you want to compete in the mobile industry, you have to do your homework.  This means looking at the past and learning what has worked, and what has failed.  It also means looking at the data and trying to predict what is needed in the future.

By paying close mind to what’s trending in the industry, you can set yourself up for a successful mobile venture.  These six eye-opening trends should get your wheels spinning.  Look to apply them to what you know about the business and with some hard work, you can develop the next must have app in the store.

Using Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Top Web Design Trends To Watch In 2017

AI-powered chatbots, VR, and immersive storytelling trends will leave a permanent mark on the industry. Photo credit: Mary Whitney/StockSnap.

AI-powered chatbots, VR, and immersive storytelling trends will leave a permanent mark on the industry. Photo credit: Mary Whitney/StockSnap.

Every year, the web design industry goes through some sort of evolution cycle to stay relevant and inspiring.

Last year, I wrote about the top web design trends to watch in 2016, many of which have taken root and changed the way we understand design forever.

This year, like a number of UX experts, I’m betting on AI-powered chatbots, VR, and immersive storytelling trends to leave a permanent mark on the industry. Undoubtedly, we will also see a lot of last year’s trends continue to shape and influence the web design space.

Without further ado, let’s explore what design innovations can give your website a serious facelift in 2017.

VR and 360º video

Although the gadget world was abuzz last year with the exciting virtual reality (VR) announcements, the trend hasn’t made a huge impact on web design trends so far. One great example of how VR and 360º video can be incorporated into web design to create a breathtaking, interactive experience is Peugeot 208’s promo campaign that utilizes both technologies to showcase a new product.

Peugeot 208 promo video takes advantage of the immersive VR and 360º video experience. Image credit: Peugeot.

Peugeot 208 promo video takes advantage of the immersive VR and 360º video experience. Image credit: Peugeot.

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Google’s Daydream VR headset is at the forefront of this movement, expanding our imagination of how the technology could be adapted for everyday use, but many other brands are jumping on the wagon too, including Playstation, HTC, and Microsoft. With so many possible practical uses of the gadget, we’re bound to see VR and 360º video finally bleeding into the web design space too.

Card design and grid layouts

First popularized by Pinterest, card design layouts continue to shape and influence web design trends and we will be seeing more of this dynamic grid style in 2017. What makes cards so appealing is the simplicity, organization, flexibility and responsiveness that they create. Grid layouts are particularly suitable for pages with an abundance of data, as they make the information more accessible and enticing. A web development agency htmlBoutique utilizes the grid layout to create unique compositions of case studies and give their portfolio an extra oomph that sets it apart from typical showcase pages.

htmlBoutique use the card layout to minimize clutter and neatly organize their case studies into grids. Image credit: htmlBoutique.

htmlBoutique use the card layout to minimize clutter and neatly organize their case studies into grids. Image credit: htmlBoutique.

Vice, Tumblr, and Dribbble are some of the most notable examples of card layouts used to create an enjoyable browsing experience and showcase content in a neat and digestible way. With the card layout trend here to stay in 2017, we can expect new takes and spin-offs of this concept.

AI-powered bots and conversational interfaces

In terms of visuals, bots are unlikely to have a big impact on web design, but they will significantly influence how designers think about creating websites. AI-powered bots are going to get even more realistic and complex this year, empowering businesses to automate communication and sales. Using tools like Letsclap, online businesses will be able to connect with their customers via messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat, providing customized customer support and commerce. Conversational interfaces will be a huge shift, helping big brands express different sides of their personality and making them more human and approachable.

By integrating with Chatfuel, brands can build a Facebook bot in less than 10 minutes. Image credit: Chatfuel.

By integrating with Chatfuel, brands can build a Facebook bot in less than 10 minutes. Image credit: Chatfuel.

More than 900 million people around the world use Facebook Messenger every month, so the introduction of Bots for Messenger last year was a welcome addition to the toolkit of communication channels for businesses of all sizes. Any brand can build a Facebook bot now without any coding knowledge. Integrations with tools like Botsify or Chatfuel make the setup process so simple that it’s becoming unusual not to use a customized bot. This year, we’ll see the conversational interfaces reach a higher level of personalization and inventiveness.

High-quality authentic photography

Stock photography reduces trust and is often completely ignored. It’s bad for design and even worse for business. With so many authentic photography sites popping up online, finding beautiful high-quality images is easier than ever, hence, we will continue to see the decline of cheesy stock photography in web design.

Depositphotos’s guide to visual trends in 2017 predicts the comeback of 90s-style photography. Image credit: Depositphotos.

Depositphotos’s guide to visual trends in 2017 predicts the comeback of 90s-style photography. Image credit: Depositphotos.

Studies have shown that images featuring real people have a better chance at converting visitors too. In fact, Depositphotos’ research into visual trends that will define our visual culture in 2017 indicates a growing demand for original, candid images that are easily relatable and capture moments of real life rather than a polished, posed look. To attract and engage customers, brands will be embracing well composed but real-life looking images that contribute to the visual story of their site.

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

IT Company’s Cloud-ready Transition Tied to Client Needs, Technology Trends

One IT company insists that the key to success is assuring the cloud readiness of a client is before implementing any part of a transition plan.

James Farhat, CEO of Applications Consulting Training Solutions, an ISV and technology solution provider based in Jacksonville, Fla., spoke with Small Business Trends regarding his experience in becoming a cloud-ready IT company and in transitioning his clientele to the cloud.

Farhat said that his company’s transition has evolved alongside the needs of his customers and changing technology trends.

“Our transition evolved along with our clients’ needs and how technology has changed,” he said. “We felt like we’re always ahead of the game, or try to be at least, and felt the marketplace was moving in that direction.”

Based on his desire to be a trendsetter, Farhat began moving his company toward cloud-readiness five years ago, to get ahead of the competition.

“Because we did that five years ago, we’re sort of the go-to partner,” he said. “We have a lot of experience and use cases and have had a lot of success. Now that the market is moving more and more that way and adopting cloud-readiness, it’s provided credibility for us, making it easy to get clients and grow the business.”

Farhat started his company based on his passion for technology, a background in training and consulting and a desire to solve business problems.

“I’ve always been in the training and consulting business, but I’ve been in technology for a long time,” he said. “I have a tremendous amount of passion for technology and solving business problems. This is a platform for our organization to do so and to follow the methodology and mantra that we set forth.”

Inhibitors to Cloud Transition

Farhat’s passion for moving clients into the cloud has, along the way, been met with resistance and problems. He cited the following inhibitors:

Need for Education

“Educating clients to understand the opportunity the cloud presents is an issue,” he said. “There’s not enough education out there or enough adoption. I think that’s the biggest problem with a transition. Clients look at it more as a technology feature set versus the opportunity to help save a tremendous amount of cost in their business.”

Resistance From Executives, IT Staff

Farhat indicated that business owners and CEOs resist cloud transition due to a lack of understanding or concerns over security while IT staffers feel their jobs may be at risk.

To overcome such resistance, Farhat said, “We educate people and try to the lay the facts out, such as the savings and cost from the business profit center and that no issues with security exist. In translating it to the IT side, we talk about where the opportunity is for them and that their jobs aren’t in jeopardy.”

Downtime a Concern

Another topic Farhat covers in the education process is making sure that clients understand that downtime is a risk they must face but that there are ways to combat it.

“You are still somewhat at the mercy of the cloud provider to some degree,” he said, “but you’re also at the mercy of the person building the network or your Internet provider, so those have always played a role too.”

Farhat added that education begins during the sales cycle as well as in the proof of concept phase.

He cited, as an example, a large transportation company client.

“We did some education with their leadership and built a value proposition with Partner Sales Executives so they could really see what was going to happen,” he said. “We created a spreadsheet, an executive PowerPoint deck and came up with the best message for them to take all roles into consideration during the decision-making phase.

“We tried to make them feel comfortable that what we’re doing puts them in a better position for speed to market and more agile iterations for delivering technology for their external customers. As a result of that preparation, we ended up closing a $1.4 million deal.”

Time and Cost, Variables in Transition Process

When asked about the time involved in a transition, Farhat said it’s not an “hours” issue but that it depends on the client’s needs.

He also asserted that cost is a variable, and could run as little as $1,200 for a small business with 10 people to millions for a large corporation.

“I think at the end of the day you might have an average cost, fully loaded, of $2,400 a year per employee if you moved everything to the cloud and you had everything cloud based,” he said.

Farhat added that, often, he will bring in a financial analyst who can help the client see the opportunities from an economic perspective, such as the savings the business can accrue as a result of a reduction in IT labor costs or the lowering of maintenance expenses related to manual processes that can now be automated.

Best Place to Start With Cloud Transition

According to Farhat, no one size fits all when it comes to the best place to start making the transition to the cloud.

“You have to look at what your business problem is and what you’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “It is the business outcome that drives where you start.”

Farhat did say that his company has done a lot with platform as a service, advanced analytics in the cloud and sales performance management, building client portals in the cloud.

Conclusion

Farhat concluded his remarks by emphasizing the need to ensure the customer is well educated on the risks involved in making the transition and on the opportunities that exist as well.

He provided this advice to other IT companies contemplating becoming cloud-ready:

“Make sure that the client understands that risks have always existed. That doesn’t mean that you don’t try to drive home the opportunity for the business to save on IT operational management costs and provide a better infrastructure for their organization using the cloud. However, getting them to understand and come to terms with that is not always easy to do.”

Also checkout the company’s cloud ready solution: ACTS Skygraph, a context modeler solution used to simplify SharePoint configuration.

Cloud Photo via Shutterstock

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[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Twitter’s Explore Tab Combines Trends, Moments, Search, and Live Video

Twitter's Explore Tab Combines Trends, Moments, Search, and Live Video

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The feature combines trends, Moments, search and live video highlight
  • The intent was to make Twitter more inviting
  • Twitter has been striving to boost its ranks of users and revenue

Twitter on Thursday added an “explore” tab aimed at making it easier to find interesting content, the latest move to boost engagement at the one-to-many messaging service.

The feature, which was being added first to Twitter on Apple mobile devices and was promised for Android-powered smartphones in coming weeks, combines trends, Moments, search and live video highlights in a single spot, according to project designer Angela Lam.

“Until today, you had to go to a few different places to find each of these experiences,” Lam said in a blog post.

“As part of our continued efforts to make it easier to see what’s happening, we’re bringing all these together.”

The intent was to make Twitter more inviting by making it simple to find news, trending topics, and popular tweets, according to Lam.

San Francisco-based Twitter has been striving to boost its ranks of users and revenue.

Twitter is to announced the earnings from the final quarter of last year on February 9.

Twitter reported a net loss for the third quarter ended September 30 of $103 million, compared with a $132 million loss a year earlier. Revenues meanwhile grew eight percent year-over-year to $616 million, most of that from advertising.

The key metric of monthly active users rose only modestly to 317 million from 313 million in the prior quarter – a growth pace that has prompted concerns over Twitter’s ability to keep up in the fast-moving world of social media.

Analysts have been skeptical about Twitter’s outlook for expansion, expressing concerns about its ability to entice users beyond its core base.

Tags: Twitter, Twitter Explore, Apps, Social, Android, Apple
[“Source-Gadgets”]