Archive for the ‘Web Sites’ Category
Me: “Why would she want to?”
So you tell me. Offhand, I’ll confess to a good bit of skepticism. I can see a number of reasons I’d hesitate to do this.
For starters, as a former corporate brand manager (I was Corporate ID manager for some of the BellSouth companies), I have a built-in aversion to anything that distorts your company logo. Most high-end companies have rules requiring a certain amount of space around their logos. Designers and video producers are always itching to have logos flipping, pulsing and doing other stuff. But when it comes to fancy gadgets, I’ve long since set my default response from “why not?” to “why?”
We’re way past the point where it’s a good idea to do something just because it looks cool. (When’s the last time you saw a “cool links” page?) I’ve used a QR code on a business card, and I guess it doesn’t hurt anything. The idea of embedding your contact info into the code is conceivably useful, since a smart phone app can usually import that straight into your contacts. But it can also make you look like you’re trying too hard. At any rate, how long does it really take to key in a contact? A minute? It takes me longer than that to pull out my phone, launch the code reader app, take the picture and make sure the data went into the right fields.
And even with the business card use, consider this. Let’s say you give me your card and I scan the code on the spot. Great. Now you’re in my contacts database. Here’s the card back. I don’t need it any more.
Only when I get back to the office, I have nothing to get me to focus on you or your product. Even if I kept the card, I’m likely to say “I’ve already got that info entered,” and toss it in the can. You and your message are lost in my contact files — out of sight and out of mind.
Finally, I still have painful memories of the old days when folks rushed to implement the latest tricks on their web sites — times when we had java-driven icons that waved, sites built entirely in Flash, and sites with stuff jumping and blinking all over the page. *Shudder.*
QR codes are undoubtedly a neato technology, and they have a place. Aaron Traffas spotted a story about one potentially useful application just this morning.
I just don’t see much to get excited about. But I’ll also admit that this is a preliminary reaction on my part. I reserve the right to change my mind.
So you tell my why I should, or shouldn’t. I’m listening.
Sure, you have a gorgeous web site. You spent a fortune and endless hours on it. But how does that beautiful site look on an iPhone?
Or a Blackberry? Or an Android?
With some 60 percent of cell phone users now using handsets to access the Internet, it’s increasingly important to make sure your site is functional on handsets as well as on big desktop screens. iPads and other tablets such as the new Android devices aren’t such a big problem, because their screens are big enough to render most sites pretty well. (On the other hand, if your site uses Flash, it’s worth keeping in mind that iPad doesn’t support that technology.)
Fortunately, making your site mobile-friendly may be easier than you think, especially if it’s built using one of major open-source content management systems such as Joomla! or Drupal. These CMS systems not only provide enormous power and flexibility, but they also allow you to install readily-available plug-ins or various functions. For example, I build my corporate web sites in Joomla! and can easily add calendars, shopping carts, RSS feeds, customer service “back ends” and other functionality. On my Joomla! sites, I used a plug-in that allowed me to use a simplified template that looks better on handsets.
If your site uses a proprietary CMS, you’re pretty much on your own. You’ll probably have to go back to the web developer and ask him or her to install software to recognize handsets and use a simplified template that is more accessible on small screens.
Whatever system you’re adapting for handsets, you will hopefully have several choices. Some scripts simply strip out the photos and graphics and render the text on the handset. These are the easiest to install and configure, and you may be able to get by with one. But if the information identifying your site is embedded in pictures, keep in mind that you’ll need to make sure visitors have a way of identifying where they are.
A more sophisticated approach is to use a script that identifies the handset and uses a different template for it, giving you more control over what the visitor sees. For example, I designed a “mobile” template for each site, with no graphics more than 500 pixels wide. (Some scripts will also downsize other photos to keep things proportional.)
Also be sure to make sure you don’t compromise too much on functionality. For example, if you have a shopping cart on your site, you still want it to work for mobile visitors. And if you’re selling products, you probably don’t want the photos eliminated completely.