Saturday, May 9, 2015

Expansion of Android Landscape Increasing App Developers’ Pain Part 4

Android Development Tools to Ease Life

Previously in part 1 and par 2, we have analyzed acute fragmentation issues on Android OS and in part 3, we tried to get ideas of some concurrent solution existing in the present market. Now, in this recent post I would like to cite some third-party tools, which are capable to change the entire game of Android development and ease the pains of developers at greater extent.

Third-Party Android Tools – Game Changer

With the pace of time, Android being an open and malleable platform, have established a rich ecosystem of 3rd party developers and accumulate treasure of various tools. These vast contributions have gradually changed the ways of how Android application designers, Android application programmers, and Android application testers work and accomplish their challenges with desired success. Let’s check which tools, frameworks, technologies, and services have left or leaving great impacts on the Android app developer community by-and-large. 

Emulator – Genymotion
No doubt, Android SDK carries out-of-box emulators, but Genymotion is faster than those in-built tools so it is getting momentum among the Android community.

Hybrid Extensions and Plug-ins
If you opt for robust functionality, out-of-box features, and excellent user experiences accumulation of various plug-ins are essential such as social sharing plug-ins, cloud integration, email composers, native page transitions, and many AWS like web services.

Chromium WebView
Web components are essential part of mobile app development and for Android platform Google has introduced Chrome V8 JavaScript engine with the release of android KitKat updates. These web components are available for developers in form of WebView. Thus, taking help through WebView may offer modern web standard support to the Android developers in their app development. 

HTML Application Runtime – Crosswalk
We know WebView now and its ultimate benefits for obtaining web services in Android applications. However, by nature web components need constant updates and providing them runtime engine is essential to avoid manual updates of WebView frequently. Crosswalk is giving HTML based application runtime services.

Thus, Android developers can leverage the emerging web and mobile technologies such as:

  • WebGL
  • WebRTC
  • W3C’s SysApps Working Group APIs
  • JavaScript Extension Framework, along with affording access to Apache Cordova APIs

Therefore, the portable Crosswalk runtime engine for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript based applications eliminates constant updates of Android WebView and ease the life of programmers at greater extent.

Android Studio
Google has freed Android developers form Eclipse and ADT plug-in combo by unveiling Android Studio. In Android Studio, you will find Gradle-based build system, code template to create common app features without ditching things from the scratch, editor with Intellisense, abilities to utilize imported classes, etc. These are something that modern Android developers love in the latest IDE and fortunately, Android Studio pass their tests for selection of IDE in Android app development.

In short, aforementioned tools have eased the work and life of an average Android application developer and of entire Android developer community by-and-large. If you opt for any advance level Android app designing as well as Android app programming work, you need to have updated team of hire Android application developers and an established Android development company with the latest infrastructure as well as trained human resources like Lujayn to win the battle. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Best Strategies for Startup Launch Marketing Part 2

In the previous part 1, we have seen some pre-launch strategies for startups for brick as well as online adventures. Keeping the thread continue in this current part, we will check further strategies as pre-launch.

Online pre-launch strategies:
Creating Landing Pages and Final Version of Website

  • Now, as the next step you can create your landing pages in the lab and you can get them on testing servers if you are creating buzz for your brick store only without unveiling full scale website
  • Begin optimization of your landing pages or website especially for online businesses using modern strategies and technologies like SEO, SMO, Performance Optimization, Conversion Optimization, etc.
  • Now integrate code of search engine analytics tools like Google Analytics, Bing, etc, as per their guidelines
  • Finally, integrate social media tools and other plug-ins, extensions, 3rd party tools for Internet marketing

Activities Just before Launch of Startup:
Once your website or landing page is ready and published on the web, begin its Internet marketing by initiating following activities:

  • Write a compelling and informative press release regarding to your release, its date, and time of release.
  • Create off page content like blogs, articles, etc. and post them on good ranking as well as reputed directories or sites
  • Do some social bookmarking of those links with unique meta data
  • Spread their links and some viral messages on social media like Twitter, Facebook pages, and G+ pages.
  • Take part or create funny and engaging contests online and spread your ads there
  • Begin email marketing using modern tools like MailChimp and get feedback
  • Prepare robust and appealing videos of your startup and products or services and upload it on YouTube like audio visual media to get your launch viral

Release Day Strategies
Now, it is time to release your startup and unveils your product, as a brick store or as online storefront, and begins the process of creating your buzz by following simple marketing strategies given below.
  • Now start posting all aforementioned content you have prepared in pre-release step
  • Schedule tweets and emails so you can inform your relevant audience about your launch and engage them further
  • Link submission on list and directory sites to augment your content submitted on various blogs, articles, and press release directories as well as get some back links for SEO purpose
  • Submit links and news in media and social media to bring more traffic and lure your prospective customers through your transparency and commitments of services
  • Attend feedback quickly if any to satisfy the curiosity of your customers or visitors

Post-Release Strategies
If you think once, the launch is finished. Your marketing is over, but that may prove a big mistake in itself. Since, the post launch period is the real buzz time and marketing time, and it may continue forever for your business growth.
  • Now, you should be courteous enough and wish thanks to everyone who contributed you
  • Create buzz on social media and engage visitors more
  • Focus on support, maintenance, and update if needed. These post release care may reward you for longer and will build strong support to your branding campaigns by providing positive reviews from your satisfied and loyal customers.
  • Take some help of print and other traditional marketing methods if your budget permits

If you have good budget, you can think of mobile app release for your online business startup because it may reward you in good deal due to vast and affluent audience on handheld devices. Of course, you need to have good mobile app development company at your side like Lujayn that may help you to get good responsive web designing services at premium rates.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Designing Simple-Predictable-Comfortable Navigation Part 3

Hovering & Tooltips Interaction Events

When we are designing a navigation scheme or a menu, we should consider user interaction events besides the navigation layout, appearance, and links. As the user journey begins with the user interactions with the interface and navigation interface has its own kinds of events.
In this series, we are exploring various aspects of navigation designing for web and mobile. In the first part of this series, we have seen how navigation symbols take parts in successful navigation designs and in the second part of the series, we had explored the target areas further. Now, in this current third part, we are aiming to dig the most common interaction events in navigation menus or schemes designing.
Generally, four kinds of interaction events take place when the users begin interactions with UI and particularly, on navigation menus or schemes on the web and mobile client devices. They are hovering, clicking, scrolling, and typing. Among these, hovering may not applicable in responsive design on mobile devices in particular. However, we will explore some aspects of hovering interaction events in this post because still half of our users are coming from desktops and laptops like big screen devices where pointing devices are in action, not the touch gestures.

Hovering Interaction Event
Mouse over or hovering event is generally used in case of text links effects, tool tips effects, popup fire-up events, and now in pop up of navigation menu. Good web designers know that hovering event on navigation menu may cause accidental opening of menu when users simply traverse on different parts of the website and crossing the navigation bars.
At user experience point of view, it is annoying users and its has simple clue to stop such accidental opening that is giving a delay of 0.5 seconds when curser arriving on the target area. Of course, designers should take care once the 0.5 seconds over, hovering event should take place within 0.1 second otherwise, your users will get bad impression of your website. The same is true when mouse curser go away from the active areas of the corresponding menu button and menu itself. There should be a delay of 0.5 second to close the menu window and it should accomplish within next 0.1 second.
In mega websites, designers take help of another workaround and it is to create a temporary invisible target area in order to avoid accidental appearing or disappearing of popup menu during traveling to the intended links on window/menu from the main navigation button.

With hovering interaction, event tooltips appear as navigation menu for categories and sub-categories items. This trend is gaining ground due to some obvious benefits of tooltips in UX. However, using tooltips on hovering is not entirely problem free and it might have following issues at UX and Usability point of views.
  • It is difficult to know that whether tooltips exist or not
  • It is possible for tooltips to obstruct the next items in navigation
  • There are possibilities of delay problems if they are too short or too long
  • Comparison between items become difficult in tooltip hovering interaction event
  • Tooltips are useless in responsive design when mobile devices are client-devices

Based on the above-described pros and cons of hovering interaction event in navigation design, the team of UX experts and web designers at Lujayn, for responsive as well as static website design, take steps carefully and add hovering events in navigation only in selected cases.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Test Usability in Context through Participatory Design

Participatory Design Test
Responsive websites or mobile apps have different use contexts compared to desktop only versions. Therefore, their testing is always a challenging task. Generally, we take two routes to test, one by general and large scale testing or by broad assumptions while another is the designing of a feature and testing it in its specific ways. In fact, they both are two extreme ends of the testing spectrum, but participatory design of testing can bridge them and offer contextual usability tests.

As we are living in mobile era and almost 50% population use mobile devices to access the web for all purposes including critical shopping. As, the day before yesterday, we were developing websites for desktop users and have used our testing system accordingly. Therefore, we have tough time to offer excellent user experiences and usability on mobile devices in responsive web designing endeavors.

Today we have many advance and appropriate testing systems, methods, and facilities to accomplish our quality maintenance tasks for intricate responsive website development project. For instance, we can run guerilla UX test with the least investment of time and money. Same the way for usability testing, we have participatory design to test our contextual interactions in real-time.

Why We Need Contextual Participatory Test
Yes, contextual testing matters more for the mobile website and application testing. As, we know mobile used in wider and in unexpected use cases and contexts due to its mobility factors against the standalone desktops or laptops with partial mobility. For instance, when a mobile user accesses a website during its commuting route, she has altogether different needs and issues with the website from the other locations like office or home.

If we think on getting out in the field for UX or usability testing with real users in real-time, it becomes impossible to accomplish our project within given timelines. Therefore, we have to simulate much of our contextual experiences in the lab or in the areas of our vicinity in economic and safe ways. In due course, industry has one refined approach for mobile testing and that is participatory design. As, this test takes short time and limited users, as the participants, we can go cost-effective ways without missing much quality credentials.

Steps of Participatory Design Test Session

Step 1 - Intimate Users Regarding Test
At first step, we used to introduce our app and testing points that uncover the actual usage of our app or website or anything creating pains in user experiences. If you successfully brought awareness and put them in right contexts that you want to use product, you would have better cooperation from them.
In this process, you must go in-depth and create questions, which should cover: when, where, how long, what tasks, and how satisfied like categories.

Step 2 – Documentation
Once you soak them in your desired contexts through initial questions, draw a timeline for the beginning and end of the test as well as tell test participants to fill its intermediate steps using documentation techniques. In this documentation process, you can use colorful stickers to overlay their emotions in the range of negative and positive. This way you will capture their happiness and frustration in qualitative as well as quantitative measures.

Step 3 – Sketching Experiences
For this step of test, you have to bring participants in the lab and tell them to recall their field experiences and translate them in some wireframe like designs. Give participant the pen-paper, drawing and cutout equipments, and tap and scissors to stick cutouts on the design of phone and its screens or interfaces, just like we do in prototyping.

Step 4 – Feedback
Now, in this final step, converse with participants after examine their sketches and documents. Place your own imaginative designs on the table or show in modern prototyping tools with interactions and animations. Thus, they will push their boundaries and will provide you valuable feedback on the designs. Thus, they will help you to iterate or refine your development methodologies.

Fortunately, Lujayn has excellent web design and mobile development team with enough experiences in participatory design testing to bring robust outcomes on the table.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Creating the Right Environment and Processes for Collaboration

At present, we are developing very intricate software products for desktop, web, and mobile. The development process demands involvement of a big team of designers, programmers, and others in highly collaborative ways. Thus, creating the right environment and process for the development are challenging for modern project managers as well as software development company. However, payoffs for such hard efforts are highly rewarding and astounding.

In software development companies, it is a general practice of allocating work that they describe features and functionality needs in the software. Unfortunately, never target the final goals of the software and never try to inspire their development teams to think that how users will accomplish their goals. This process involves the development teams around the common vision. 

If we want development team to work around the common vision, we have to foster the culture of collaboration where we have to create an environment and essential self-defending processes. In collaboration culture, each team member would have common understanding of the software and its goals. They have enough space to place their thoughts, opinions, and possible solutions. There would be some discussions, arguments, and finally negotiation or concession on a compromised solution. 

Of course, these all processes will run under the supervision of project manager or team leader who would have vision, experiences, and expertise to lead the teams in right direction with active involvement. In order to foster right collaboration culture, we have created collaborative environment through physical space, virtual spaces, and running discussion or feedback sessions.

Collaboration through Physical Space
In process of creating collaborative environment, we need to mix up team members according to their projects and personality or expertise so they can easily fall in the fruitful discussions. Moreover, we have facilitated their free movements among the other relevant teams or team members to the project by offering open desk, standing table, couches, etc. facilities to they can move around and work whenever needs arise.

The next trait of collaborative environment is to encouraging the flow of ideas and we can do this by allowing them to stick notes, design sketches, prioritization lists of work, etc. encouraging materials on the wall or on the predefined boards. Moreover, we can offer them whiteboards to draw charts or development paths and modify after some discussions.

Finally, we can allow other irrelevant, but software teams or members of staff to run some dialogues informal ways on coffee table, launch or canteen space, etc. places so they can look at the project from entirely different perspectives with the help of people from the outside and can run some guerilla survey for UX and usability if needed.

Collaboration through Virtual Space
Creating physical spaces for collaboration is somewhat costly affairs for many software companies, but modern communication technologies and collaboration software ease our some of the problems in cheaper ways. For instance, we have Campfire, Slack, HitChat, etc. like collaborative communication tools while Basecamp, Trello, Jira, etc. like tools are for collaborative project management. Similarly, GitHub, Bitbucket, etc. are collaborative source-code repository.

Thus, we have enough arsenals to create highly collaborative and effective virtual spaces to work with a team or team members dispersed across the globe and different time zones.

Fortunately, Lujayn has both kinds of collaborative spaces where its in-house web and mobile development teams are working in physical space and its teams of clients are working with its in-house teams in virtual space, particularly in case of B2B clients.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Remote Debugging Options for Mobile Developers

Mobile debugging is hardly proving successful on desktop tools, as simulation of mobile user experiences and its related problems are not possible with desktop screen as well as its pointing devices. Therefore, remote debugging with real mobile devices offers the best-fit debugging solutions.

Remote Debugging in Mobile
For mobile app developers, designing and programming user experiences are challenging tasks at each stage of development. As, real UX is only possible with real devices our attempts to simulate or emulate UX on our desktop or laptop machines is a futile exercise.

Role of Simulators & Emulators
However, practically testing our iOS or Android applications on each real device is not a feasible option at all because of cost, availability of devices, and time spend on testing. Therefore, most of mobile application developers are using in-built simulators provided in SDK of the respective OS platform. For instance, Apple offers official simulators in its Xcode and you can easily use them on your Mac machine. You can test iPhone and iPad screens with their hardware version and iOS version variations. 

Similarly, Android provides emulators for Android devices through ADT tools in Eclipse and in Android SDK. You can create Android Virtual Device (AVD) for the choice of your real Android device to test and can beat the huge fragmentation related issues on the Android platform. For rest of other mobile platforms, you have to rely on their official simulators or emulators such as BlackBerry Simulators, Windows Phone Emulators, Opera Mini Emulators, etc. 

Unfortunately, these desktop based simulators and emulators are only providing limited help in debugging the mobile issues, as they never allow us to physically tap or touch the screen with our big or small fingers or thumbs. They never allow us to rotate or flip the devices to see accelerometer effects in real life. These are some real problems for real UX, which can only be addressed through real mobile devices.

Role of Remote Testing
It is true that Apple is releasing new set of iOS devices each year along with new version of iOS. At other hand, Android is infamous for its hardware and software fragmentation due to myriad of device manufacturers and backward version of Android OS in use in the market. Thus, one thing is obvious neither any individual developer nor any company can afford to buy such heap of devices with big budget. In due course, remote testing labs are offering remote testing services at affordable rates, which are either a community with a pool of devices or through a pool of some manufacturing companies. 

For instance, Samsung’s Remote Test Lab enables you to test variety of Samsung devices using web-based interface to interact with real physical devices and get feedback through remote monitoring software or screen cast sent back to your machine. Keynote Mobile Testing and Open Device Lab are other options to use for remote testing.

Remote Debugging
If you do not want to use remote testing lab option, for many minor and real-time issues are arising frequently, during your course of mobile app development, you have another option to connect your real mobile devices with your development machines using USB like cable connector or Bluetooth like wireless connection. Thus, you will inspect your source code in-action on the real mobile device on your development machine and correct them immediately. 

For iOS devices, Apple has introduced Web Inspector tool in Safari for devices that corresponds with desktop Safari browser and let you perform your debugging tasks easily and in cheap ways. There are wide ranges of developer tools in Web Inspector of Safari that enable you to tap even DOM elements on your mobile devices and access DOM information on your desktop.

Similarly, for Android Google has introduced powerful Chrome Developer Tools in its Chrome browsers of mobile as well as desktops. Thus, you can leverage tons of debugging tools like DOM inspector, Network panel for external resources, Source panel for JavaScript inspection as well as to set breakpoints, and JavaScript console for entire set of JavaScript related debugging.

Unfortunately, not all mobile application developers are accustomed with such remote debugging tools for real world mobile user experiences issues. Thus, they can’t address excellent user experiences in their mobile app development projects. Fortunately, Lujayn has updated team of mobile developers who can address your UX related issues beautifully with cost-effective ways.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Let Us Comprehend CUBI — A User Experience Model Part 6

In the last 5th part of this series, we have seen interaction designing for UX in the UX designing CUBI model. Before it, we have seen the role of content in the UX in second part, while in third part, we have seen how to integrate user goals in the UX design and about business goals in the fourth part. Now, keeping our journey continue in the exploration of CUBI model for UX designers, we will analyze which factors are influencing the user experiences on web and mobile software products and across the diverse screens.

Today usability is prime area where we focus the most, but user experiences are something more than that and rewarding better than mere usability of the product. Thus, apart from the above described layers in the CUBI model, we have to understand and learn about the some important factors that highly influencing the UX designing process while we use CUBI model. Let’s check this user experience factors under the umbrella of CUBI model.

Branding Experience in UX Design
Our general perception of brand is many times limiting up to logo, color theme, and some designing elements. However, in UX designing, branding is not up to visual identity, but extending up to tonality and totality of the brand experiences at every touch point for users. Therefore, it is drawing quite broad picture of branding in any UX design hence it is the most challenging factor for the UX designers where they have to extend their reach at all business processes, business components, communication, transactions, production, and final outcomes of the business.

Comprehensiveness Experience in UX Design
Comprehensive means understanding, clarity, unclutteredness, and organization. If your product design is following the above traits in the design, you can say that you are giving comprehensive experiences to your end-users in the products/software. In due course, you have to make your design scannable, categorized, labeled, and with lack of any ambiguity at all. Thus, it is imperative to avoid excessive corporate lingo, jargon, slang, or unreadable messages at all steps and touch point of the design and organization experiences.

Usefulness Experience in UX Design
If your client organization or its end-users don’t feel any usefulness of your product then you are wasting your time and client’s money both. Therefore, your UX design should address target audience, their needs, and empower them to be productive to achieve their intended user goals and business goals efficiently. If your product is useful or your design proves its usefulness then you will see some tangible changes in their behaviors, actions taking on the product, and their overall performance.

Usability Experience in UX Design
Usability experiences in UX design are:
  • Easy to use product design experiences
  • Intuitive design experiences
  • Findable design experiences
  • Learnable design experiences
  • Legible design experiences
  • Consistent design experiences
  • Communicative design experiences
  • Progressive design experiences
  • Accessibility design experiences
  • Functionality design experiences
  • Corrective design experiences

It is true that very few people can understand such UX designing paradigm in the industry and fortunately, Lujayn has top-notched UX designer in its web development and mobile app development teams so you can leverage your business using their expertise and experiences at premium price tags.

Author Bio:
Shoaib Marfatiya is an eminent writer in web development industry and its verticals. He has contributed a lot by throwing light on very intricate issues of web and mobile development community.

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