Social media integration – where do we draw the line?

As new projects arrive in the inbox of Coast Design, the protocol of creating new and redesigning existing websites is continually evolving.Of course, the pre-production process is still consistent with the mapping of the site, user journeys and wireframing.

The post-production process Coast follows includes important areas such as validation, accessibility, integration of analytics packages and testing.But the implementation of new sites can raise important questions when it comes to integrating social media. These methods are growing in importance and are vital for major brands but where do you draw the line? Will clients learn to adapt to social media? If they are willing to engage in social media and networking, what techniques do you push first?

The battle of the social music player

I may be a bit late to the fold but I downloaded mflow this week, my initial reaction was that this was the game changer that we’ve all been waiting for.I’d heard some buzz about it on the grapevine – mainly via Twitter but I had to check it out for myself. The concept is vastly different from it’s competitors, you ‘flow’ music to your friends and music is ‘flowed’ to you by people that you follow. It already has big name endorsement by DJs including Zane Lowe and record companies are also eager to flow their latest pet project.

This, I thought, would be my way back into a music scene that I had missed. I have spent the last few years listening to the same old music but I’m determined to keep fresh and not resort to telling younger kids that ‘music was better in my day’. Mflow could be my way back in! The interesting bit is that you earn money if a track that you flowed is purchased, this little additional incentive to spend hours and hours online may prove priceless in the long run. Having said that, the music is a little bit more expensive here, so what’s to stop people searching for the track on iTunes and getting it for cheaper?

Internet World Expo

So, having just spent the morning wandering around Internet World at Earls Court in London, it has opened my eyes to quite alot in the world of the web.Before you entered the arena, you had to get past the Rackspace – ‘no more servers’ demo. But having to wait for my team for 20 mins, it grew increasingly annoying and made me determined to have an in-house server just to spite them.

On entering the exhibition floor you are immediately confronted with some major companies including multinationals that smaller startups will have difficulty competing with.

Opera Mini – Not all that its cracked up to be

Opera mini

Hell froze over this week when Opera mini was officially launched in Apple’s App store.What? Apple are conceding to competition on their own device? The launch of Opera Mini has been a long time coming, but what started off as a rumour finally became a reality but how and why have Apple allowed this to happen?Opera are, arguably, the kings of standard based browsers. They have a cult following in the community and will continue to flourish due to their rigourous approach to accessibility and web standards.

But, they suffer from the competition of rival browsers including Chrome (which has been marketed to death) and their arch nemesis: Internet Explorer.Until now, your only viable option to surf the web on your iPhone was to use Safari, which is perfectly fine as a mobile browser but then we have never really been able to compare it to much else. The release of Opera Mini has allowed us to compare the quality of Safari.

The most notable attribute of Opera is it’s speed!

3D what?

No sooner was it announced that the iPhone was stealing many portable gamers away from more traditional consoles, Nintendo announced the 3DS.A new iteration of the outstanding DS series, it will actually render 3D graphics without the use of glasses. Nintendo are constantly at the forefront of technical advances in gaming and there’s no doubt that there would be no XBox or Playstation without them. (The fact that the first Sony Playstation was codesigned with Nintendo is testament to this).

But, Nintendo have always taken the same stance as Apple in waiting until it is ready to announce their product. What makes this announcement even stranger is that it came straight after the release of the DSi XL in Europe. Although it has been out in Japan for many months, surely an announcement like this will put off any would be DSi XL purchasers?

Web design protocols

As web design continues to grow, we seem to be bombarded with an endless list of client requirements that we need to adhere to.Some are interested in accessibility, some think they are avid designers themselves, most won’t take no for an answer.There are a number of tools available to help alleviate some of the production time associated with our projects. Most of these tools are battling for our attention and they mainly deal with the initial planning of a project or website.I’ve recently been using Slickplan to create simple site maps.

Everyone can draw a sitemap if they really wanted to, but why should it take an hour when it could take 5 minutes. Slickplan is really easy to use and, although it’s not extensive, it will quickly produce a site map that your client can read.The hole in between a sitemap and a design is plugged with a wireframing application. In the past, I’ve been using PowerPoint to create wireframes. The presentation is largely dependent on the library of elements at your disposal but again the process can be slow and largely dissappointing. It can be quite difficult to line elements up and even if you manage that, it can still look quite poor.

IE6: The Demise

A couple of weeks ago I tweeted “just finishing another website, is it still too early to disregard IE6”.It seems that for once, I hadn’t spoken too soon.First Google, then YouTube announced the end of supporting arguably the worst browser of all time. Had I pre-empted this massive switch off?

Probably not, I’ve been moaning about IE6 for a number of years, as has the rest of the web development community.But now the time has truly come to rid the world of this old cumbersome beast. The only bad point is that with a full scale TV advertising campaign in full swing, it may only increase IE8’s market share. (Cue annoying fanfare – 7 second demos).

The iPad looms

The iPad is looming but will it succeed?Hindsight is a wonderful thing, it’s so obvious now that it was always going to be called the iPad. How awful does iSlate or iTablet sound, whoever circulated those names should be ashamed.There’s no doubt that the iPad is a welcome addition to Apple’s roster of products. We all knew that they had no intention of entering the netbook market.

The big question would be Mac OSX or iPhone OS? Again, in hindsight, that’s obvious too. Why would Apple bust a gut getting Snow Leopard working on a tablet when there is no direct competition for a tablet of this nature.Snow Leopard would have bumped up the price and reduced the battery life and after living with an iPhone for the past year, these are important points.Instead, by jumping on the iPhone OS, Apple have capitalised on one of the major successes of the past few years. Apps.

Blippy, why?

The launch of Blippy raised a few questions recently. 1 – is there room for another realtime social network? 2 – Is this an indication of how comfortable or näive society is with registering their financial details with a new social media start up? But the underlying factor is ‘what’s in it for me?’At present, it looks like most posts are apps from iTunes but you are able to link it to sites such as Amazon. Do I really want the world to know that I may have bought a 50″ TV from Amazon?If you have a facebook profile, and lets face it, who doesn’t Do you post up your holiday pics or your status updates to say that you are going away?Before you know it, those ‘friends’ you have on facebook will know where you live, when you are away from the said address and what you own! You will be ripe for the picking.Now this may seem like an extreme version of events but the BBC’s Virtual Revolution recently stated that out of your few hundred facebook friends, you actually interact with less than 10! Suddenly the scenario seems that much more feasible.The fact remains though, what’s in it for me? Will online checkouts soon have the option for a discount if you offer them exposure by broadcasting your purchases to Blippy? If so, the consumer will have to weigh up the discount vs the cost of broadcasting this information.Perhaps though, in an age where identity fraud is rife, people are being a bit too blasè with the importance of thei information.I’m not saying that Blippy will fail, if it offers integration to fellow networks like Twitter and Buzz, then it will succeed. I am just stressing the importance of what information we should share.If I broadcast that ‘i like Nutella on my toast’, I don’t care if no one listens. If I broadcast that I’ve bought a new iMac, there may be repurcussions beyond belief.

The Return

So, after a 3 month hiatus, I’m back in the world of WordPress – arguably the worlds favourite blogging engine?I fell in and out of love with wordpress quite quickly. Initially I was impressed with the ease of installation and backend interface. It almost seemed too easy to get blogging!But then, I encountered the limitations and grew frustrated. It quickly became apparent that although you can create a fully fledged website in WordPress, it becomes increasingly hard to manage. Off I went in search of a more powerful CMS to use in my own projects. I had been using MySource Matrix at work and the backend interface is very easy for administrators to manage the content. But the installation process was really confusing. Maybe MySource Mini is more up my street?Failing that, I looked at Drupal and Joomla! With no time to learn both through and through, I bought a few books and got down and dirty with Drupal. Nothing against Joomla, but I may try that one next year! For now, the power of drupal awaits!I’m looking to launch with a new commercial site soon and have plans to start some ecommerce sites as well! Hopefully this will prove to be the right choice!But, it has made me recognise the importance of WordPress. We must use the best tools for the job in any instance, I’ve returned to WordPress with this site for a number of reasons. I don’t care if I don’t receive any hits, this is as much an experiment to help improve my writing than attain a community of blog followers! The fact that I’m able to sit and write this blog on my iPhone whilst sitting on the long tube journey to Stockwell is testament to the fact that you use the best tool for the job. The versatility of wordpress will enable me to keep the blog going in a variety of situations, which is the fundamental flaw in most blogs.So.I’ve returned.It took less than 24 hours to get the entire blog up, customised and running. And that is owed in part to the huge community of developers that wordpress has. Hopefully, I’ll have a similar experience with Drupal.