AMPed Up

accelerated mobile pages

Image via USC Annenberg Media

Life is short and a user’s attention span is even shorter which is why accelerated mobile pages (AMP) could be important to make mobile reading less vexing. Google launched the project stating last year on their official blog, “We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously.”

The Accelerated Mobile Page Project’s initial premise was for readers on smartphones to access content better and faster with a current client roster listing mainly publishers such as Forbes and NFL. Bigwig eBay took the plunge to have AMP structure thousands of webpages, meaning this open source initiative could start listing a lot more clients in the future. The faster loading time answered those immediate search engine questions whether figuring out where to brunch or emergency plumbers in your area.

However, AMP is not the cure all to mobile optimization. If brands are ready to invest, they best be ready to anticipate customer problems and respond quicker than ever before. The future of mobile lies in getting the right message to the right customer ready to greet the consumer and anticipate their problems. This article details the future of AMP and several areas businesses will want to examine thoroughly before committing.

Read the full article here.


Instagram and Snapchat Stories: Why There’s Room for Both

insta versus snapchat stories

Looking Back

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a good visual app is worth billions – for example, Instagram and Snapchat. The former built its premise on cataloguing images, the latter built its premise on vanishing images. The two apps have undergone many makeovers and feature updates since conception, but have always stayed in their own lanes. Until August 2nd, 2016.

At The Moment

Instagram recently released “Instagram Stories” feature which allows users to post a picture or video to their followers which only lasts 24 hours before vanishing. Using the same premise of a Snapchat story (even the same name!) was an intrepid move. Picture the archetypal Western standoff with Instagram growling “this visual app world ain’t big enough for the both of us”. Comparing the two, identical attributes include users posting an image or video which can be written or drawn on with pen or typed text as well as filtered to be lighter, black & white, etc. The post goes to the top of the page amongst other stories and instantly the user can access a private list of which followers engaged with their story.

Snapchat developed the concept first, almost three years ago, so of course their app has more features. Snappers can edit videos with cool effects such as slow motion, hyper speed, and reverse. Users choose how long an image can be displayed, from 1-10 seconds. You can use surroundings to brand images such as current temperature, miles per hour, and geofilters. Celebrities verify their account with an emoji of their choosing making it easier for users to discern between their friends and all 700 members of the Kardashian’s clan. Users also have an alphabetized list of those they follow so one can rewatch someone’s story.

So what does Instagram do? They have more pens to draw on the stories with…? While yes that’s true, other than the cool pens, Instagram Stories is very bare bones. Its charm comes from its ease and clarity. Brief tutorials answer many questions Snapchat deliberately avoided. While watching stories, a consumer clicks on the user’s story they wish to view – but Snapchat’s interface immediately takes you to the next user’s story.I’ll be watching a live stream of Bonnaroo wondering how my friends met DJ Khaled and then got on a plane until I realize I’ve been watching three separate stories with one just flowing into the next. Instagram has an explicit ending when each user’s story comes to an end.

The main basis of Instagram, which Snapchat deliberately does not include, is permanence. While the Instagram feeds update every second, profiles exist as catalogued images with comments that stay for years and years. This is better for selling or sharing content to be digested as hyperlinks and words can stay on a profile for longer than a day. Instagram facilitates finding similar accounts for followers; something Snapchat does not do. For example; if you follow Ina Garten, Instagram will conveniently suggest the accounts of Giada DeLaurentiis, Food Network, and Bobby Flay.

Going Forward

I don’t FB message my boss a PDF he needs even though Facebook message has attaching capability. I don’t post all pictures from a vacation to Instagram even though I don’t have a limit on how many pictures can be on my feed. I don’t send my roommate money for the electricity bill over Snapchat even though Snapcash allows me to do so. This is how we operate. Even though platforms have the capability, we intuitively choose what social media to use based on context of the content; we evaluate our context between quality, quantity, post right now with almost no editing, post later with lots of edits, casual, formal, funny, serious, just to friends or also to people we’ve never met.

Instagram Stories will attract and keep businesses, blogs, and those users who never really understood Snapchat. Instagram stories makes a user’s page richer. For big brands, celebrities, and serious bloggers, those gorgeous photos that make their profile so captivating come from a mini photoshoot with a DSLR camera and then an edit in an Adobe editing program like Photoshop, rather than Instagram’s provided filters. This process takes some time between multiple devices such as expensive cameras and editing software. so Instagram stories allow users such as these to continue sharing their brand without requiring the same intense processes. For example, clothing brands can share sneak peeks of fall catalogues, and television shows can share behind the scenes of upcoming seasons.

Instagram Stories will take away some of Snapchat’s users, but ultimately brands will go to the watering hole where their customers drink. There will still be plenty of snappers. Snapchat’s fun comes from its transience. Those who enjoy it will not abandon their geo-filters, their editing features, and their ability to send fleeting images privately. For now, there’s room on the phone for both.

  • 07.29.16

Microsoft “Invite” Makes Keeping a Schedule Easy


Maybe you’ve heard of their competitors, the scheduling apps that don’t require users to keep a detailed weekly inventory of meetings the way Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook do. The products trying to make scheduling easier include Doodle, NeedToMeet, WhenIsGood, and more. Users have long been jumping ship from Outlook to these competitors because they’re frustrated with Outlook’s clunky scheduling platform, but Microsoft is now trying to bring those users back into the fold. The app, Invite, syncs to Outlook calendars and provides a cleaner UX for users to schedule meetings – even across organizations. Maybe they’ll add this functionality to the Outlook app eventually.

Check out the app here

  • 07.26.16

Facebook is Using AI to Identify Offensive Content


With 400,000 new posts and 180 million comments every minute Facebook needs to protect users from offensive photos. They’ve been testing a new AI and for the first time the software has reported more offensive imagery than users. A big step forward for sure but the surprising part is that Facebook is sharing these new accomplishments with Twitter, Google, Netflix, and Uber.

Read the article here

  • 07.21.16

2016 Product Design Industry Report


InVision, a prototyping platform, fielded a survey of designers to uncover those professional datapoints that people don’t like to talk about but love to know: Salary, title, which kind of companies designers work for, and more. The report, called the “2016 Product Design Industry Report,” offers a snapshot of today’s design world, and you’ll want to read it if you’re working in design or if you want to. The survey also covered questions like how much designers are coding on the job, what tools they’re using, and whether they prototype in their role.

Check out the report here

  • 07.19.16

Facebook Testing New Notification Feature

Image via SocialTimes

Image via SocialTimes

Facebook tests a lot of new features most of which never see the light of day. But this new idea is interesting. Instead of tagging your friends in a post to make them aware, Facebook is trying out a more subtle approach with “Notify.” (Our name for the feature.) Notify will alert a small group of your friends about the particular post without having to tag them in the post or in the comments. This will make the copy more visually appealing and reduces the volume of spam in the comments.

Read the full article here

  • 07.14.16

Twitter Adds “Stickers” Capability


Image via Engadget

In an effort to increase engagement and make the platform innately more social, Twitter is taking a cue from Snapchat and launching Stickers. Users can now dress up their photos with different stickers, including special themes for summer, graduation and more. Stickers will also be searchable using the hashtag #stickers so people can see how other users are customizing their photos and videos. While users can only add the stickers from their mobile devices, stickers can be viewed and searched on the desktop application as well. Learn more about the latest product launch from Twitter here.

Click here for the full article

  • 07.13.16

Litigating for “Likes”

Image via Ubergizmo

Image via Ubergizmo

Generally speaking, people don’t like to be told what to do. So trying to force your customers to “Like” you on Facebook is never a good idea. This apartment complex tried to put this into their lease along with permission to post photos of their residents. To say it didn’t go well is an understatement.

Read more

  • 07.11.16

What’s the Best Time to Run?

Image via Lifehacker

Image via Lifehacker

The Weather Channel’s app just levelled up in the microinteraction game. They know people want to check the weather, but by following the customer decision journey to their users’ next steps, they realized one common purpose for users was figuring out when to go for a run without melting. It’s a great evolution of their products’ usefulness, and it makes you wonder what other microinteractions might evolve out of following the customer decision journey. The app could detect when you usually leave for work through your location data, then let you know whether you need an umbrella as you’re headed out the door. It could scrape city data for your area to let you know it’ll be beautiful outside this Sunday, so you could attend the farmer’s market downtown. Read up on what we think is the first of many great microinteractions to come.

Read about all the new features here

  • 07.08.16

Less News, More Familiar Faces in Your Newsfeed


Facebook’s updated newsfeed will now feature more content from your friends and family. A welcome change for users as that means we’ll see less ads when we log on. But as marketers this surely means more competition and possibly higher prices to make sure our social content is actually delivered.

Read the press release here

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