Four Mobile Options for Libraries

I just read Your 4 Mobile Options by Paul Boag. Good stuff! In the article, Paul suggests that there are basically four options when it comes to having a mobile presence (taken from Paul’s article – you should go read the whole thing!):

  1. Responsive website: A responsive website is one that adapts to whatever device it is being viewed on. Whether that is a desktop computer, tablet or mobile device, the same website will display the same content using a visual design most suited to that device.
  2. Native application: Native apps are applications that run physically on the mobile device and are coded specifically for the operating system of that device. These are the applications you typically find in either the Google Play or iOS App Store.
  3. Web application: A web application shares characteristics with both a native application and a responsive website. As with a responsive website a web application is built using HTML, CSS and Javascript and lives entirely online.
  4. Hybrid application: A hybrid application is essentially a native application built with HTML, CSS and Javascript. By building it with web technology it is quicker to develop and easier to publish to multiple platforms (e.g. iOS or Android). The downsides are that performance tends not to be as good and they lack the design style of each platform.

Which one of these options should libraries use? Paul says this as a general rule of thumb: “A good starting point is to ask whether users are primarily completing a task or accessing information.”

I’d agree – that’s a good starting point. I’d go a bit farther, and say this – figure out what your mobile users are doing, and how they do it, and more importantly – WHAT they want to do. Then figure out the right flavor of mobile accessibility that best meets those needs. Also, figure out what you can do. For example, when my library was still on Horizon for our library catalog, we chose Boopsie because they could create a mobile version of our catalog (something our vendor hadn’t yet figured out). So we went with an app-driven mobile catalog.

We’re on Polaris now, and it comes with a web-based catalog that works great. Will we stay with our Boopsie app? Not necessarily, since the mobile version of Polaris works well. More on that later this year!

One other thing – if you haven’t yet started to think about the mobile web … why not? Pick something – anything – and start. Your smartphone-loving public is waiting!

Pic of Paul Boag from boagworld.com

iPads at the Airport

Like iPads, and think they could work in a public space? Check this video out! I recently saw a bunch of iPads at the Delta terminal at LaGuardia airport in New York, and took a short video of them. Here’s a link to some photos, too.

Basically, here’s what I saw – hundreds of iPads in the airport terminal gates, secured to tables with a cable. Each iPad had airport info, news, games, a restaurant menu, and web access apps installed. You could order items from the restaurant via a credit card swiper beside the iPad. No signup, no waiting list – just find an empty iPad and start using it. Here’s a couple of news articles written about this experiment.

The only real problem I saw was one of sorta gross smudges on the iPads. Thankfully, I also saw someone walking around, cleaning the screens.

iPads in the airportI think this type of setup could easily work in a library setting! Here are some starter thoughts on potential uses:

  • catalog-only computers
  • computer “overflow” – get out the iPads!
  • Simple browsing stations. Who needs PCs?
  • Complete mobile technology in the library – no PCs needed (with those handy self-service tablet checkout machines that were being shown in the exhibit hall at ALA Annual). Just check out an iPad, then take it wherever you want to in the library.
  • Out-of-the-building events
  • For staff, they could work nicely as roving reference tools.

Question – how does your library use iPads or mobile tablet technology? I’ll start: so far, we have some iPads that staff can check out for a learning opportunity, we have experimented with them for roving reference, and we teach a class on using an iPad. How about you?

ALA12 Presentations

As promised, here are my two ALA12 presentations. There was some great discussion at both!

and

I also participated in Battledecks. It’s not for the faint of heart! My goal wasn’t so much to win – more to say something coherent on every slide, and attempt to stick to the topic. And I think I achieved that, with some humor thrown in to boot. So mission accomplished there!

Let’s Make Some Mobile, Mmmkay? #Blogworld

BlogworldPresenter: @SaraSantiago co-owner of @RollMobile

Some stats: US smart phone penetration just hit 50% (Neilsen, 2012).

One in four US mobile phone owners use the mobile web every day (Antenna Software Report).

Gartner predicts more people will be accessing the Internet with mobile devices than with their computers by 2012.

If I access your site, what will I see? If it’s not mobile-friendly, people will go find another site that is.

White space time = commute time, getting ready for work, etc. People digest content during that white space time.

Google – howtogomo.com/en/#gomo-meter – looks at your website and tells you how mobile-friendly it is

Responsive design/Adaptive design – discussion about what they both are.

WordPress – install a mobile theme for your blog. Check out http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-mobile-pack/

Other blog software was covered too, including Movable Type, TypePad, WordPress.com, and Blogger.

http://www.lmgtfy.com – Let Me Google That For You

Once you make a mobile-friendly site, test out everything – make sure it works. Click the links, play the video, scroll through the site, click the navigation, etc.

QR Codes: use a link shortener first, then make your QR Code. Makes the code less dense. IF you use a QR Code, the place that code resolves to HAS TO work on a mobile phone. You KNOW the user is on a phone… so make whatever the QR code is pointing to work on a phone.

Sara’s Rules for Providing an Awesome Mobile Experience:

  1. Think. Plan. Resist “shiny new object syndrome”
  2. Remember, you aren’t creating an experience for yourself. So ask your audience what they want.
  3. Please. Don’t make me feel like you hate me. Make it easy and make it work.
  4. HTML5 is not a verb. Do some planning before you do responsive design, use HTML5, etc.
  5. Be the ball. ME – what in the world does this mean? I’m not sure, and all she said was “this is the best advice that I’ve ever heard.”

Smartphones, Libraries, and your website

I was just looking at March 2012 statistics on my library’s website. Here’s what I saw:

  • 39,161 visits to our website in March
  • 3486 visits via a mobile device.
  • that means slightly more than 11% visited via a mobile device
  • Those devices? Mainly iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches – 57.89%
  • That fits with the web browsers that visited our site – 14.11% were Safari (think ithingies here)

Now look at Pew’s newest Smartphone Update, released on March 1: 46% of American adults are smartphone owners as of Feb 2012. There was an increase of 11% in just 9 months.

And check this out – it’s not just wealthy people getting smartphones:

“Nearly every major demographic group—men and women, younger and middle-aged adults, urban and rural residents, the wealthy and the less well-off—experienced a notable uptick in smartphone penetration over the last year. Overall adoption levels are at 60% or more within several cohorts, such as college graduates, 18-35 year olds and those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more.”

So my question to you: are you designing for mobile? A mobile app, or a mobile website?

If you haven’t yet started building with mobile in mind, now is definitely the time to start – you are very close to alienating almost half your customers. They are interacting with their favorite sites online using their smartphone (think Facebook, Amazon, Youtube, etc.).

Wanna be one of those favorite sites too? Then you had better get that mobile site up and running FAST.

smartphone photo by Bigstock