Tag: mobile

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 31

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

After receiving plenty of hype over the past year, Windows 10 was finally released this week, seemingly avoiding any major hiccups during the process. While the new OS is definitely newsworthy, there were plenty of other stories to follow this week including some intriguing developments in virtual reality and the release of a teaser for ABC’s new Muppets sitcom. So, without further adieu, we present to you this week’s news.

Tech

nokia-ozo

Source = Nokia

If you haven’t noticed yet, the past year has seen some major developments in the world of virtual reality. While a few other companies have already announced their efforts to develop a camera optimized for capturing virtual reality, Nokia decided to finally enter the conversation this past week. Releasing pictures of a product that is slightly reminiscent of a probe droid from the Empire Strikes Back, the tech company excitedly announced their new camera called Ozo.

If you’ve been following the Spry Hive for awhile now, you might just remember us discussing how Amazon wants you to push its buttons a couple of months ago. Now, some of your everyday household items are literally one click away as the internet-based retailer has finally released the first series of Dash Buttons.

Web

As designers and developers continue to focus web pages on providing users with more options and more images, the average size of a single page continues to rapidly grow. Unfortunately, coupled with the rise in mobile browsing, this trend of ‘bloated’ websites is beginning to threaten the user experience on mobile devices.

Design

creativity3

Source = FiveThirtyEightScience

This week, we came across an interesting story from another creative designer that we just had to share. Hitting on the notion of ‘blind searching’, Christie Aschwanden discusses how such a research method could act as the foundation for a plethora of creative innovations. Detailing her experience working on a specific project, she came to the conclusion that, sometimes, you just need to stop trying to be creative.

Development

Do you manage or develop any websites using WordPress? Well, if so, then make sure secure your site by checking for updates as version 4.2.3 of the CMS was released about a week ago.

Whether you’ve been struggling to learn CSS FlexBox or you are just now becoming interested in learning more about the module, a little assistance rarely hurt anyone. Fortunately, you only have to search as far as their domain, FlexBox.io, where developer Wes Bos has put together 20 free, helpful videos for guiding users through the basics.

If you are a developer familiar with Drupal CMS, then you have most likely come across the heated debate currently surrounding the use and effectiveness of ‘Headless Drupal’. Thankfully, Andrew Berry from Lullabot has shed some light on the dispute, highlighting both sides of the issue and, instead of choosing sides from the beginning, asks the question, “Should you Decouple?

Misc.

Finding their way back to television, the Muppets are landing on ABC this Fall in what’s described as an, “office-style mockumentary.” Evidently, an 11-minute clip was recently shown at Comic Con, where it received so much fan-fare that the producers decided to release it the public.

While a Breaking Bad inspired coffee shop is far from the best reason to visit Istanbul, it’s definitely a novel reason. Born from a Kickstarter campaign, Walter’s Coffee Roastery has done a great job at capturing the shows aesthetics, even serving coffee in test tubes and beakers.


As you can see, the doers of this world produced a plethora of topics to discuss over the weekend. Whether it was gaining the ability to push Amazon’s buttons or the lesson about having faith in your messy, yet time-tested methods, we hope you found something of interest to walk away with. So, don’t forget to send your System Administrator some love today and have a spry weekend!

Why we choose the Zurb Foundation theme for Drupal

Posted by kGoff & filed under Web Development.

One of the most important decisions in building a new Drupal website, and, consequently, one of the first steps, is selecting a theme or theme framework. Currently, there are 1,316 themes available on drupal.org.

During our time as a Drupal developers, we have used the following themes: Omega, Zen, Bootstrap, and Foundation. While each of these themes has a variety of strengths and weaknesses, the Foundation theme by Zurb has quickly become our “go-to” theme.

The Foundation theme is built with the Foundation front-end framework. The Foundation framework is a grid-based, mobile-first CSS framework so one can greatly speed up the processes of front-end development for responsive websites.

feature-grid-1

The CSS-based grid system isn’t the only feature Zurb packs into the Foundation framework. It also includes several user interface elements and JavaScript libraries to enhance the user experience.

The fact that it’s a mobile-first framework is one of the main reasons why we chose the Foundation framework. Out of the box, the theme comes with standard breakpoints for mobile, tablet, and desktop. You can easily create your own breakpoint to supplement the default breakpoints.

feature-mobile-1

Another great feature of the Foundation framework is that it is built to work seamlessly with SASS. SASS is a pre-processor for CSS. If you are not familiar with SASS, then you are in for a treat. SASS allows you to use variables, nested rules, mixins, and inline imports to streamline your CSS development. SASS files are compiled into CSS via a SASS compiler. If you are new to SASS or would like to learn more about it, click here for a great resource to help get you up to speed.

But what we like best about Foundation is that it’s not Drupal-specific. In addition to several Drupal sites, we have built WordPress sites using Foundation, as well as custom applications built with PHP frameworks like Laravel. Using a common front-end framework regardless of platform means that front-end developers can work faster and smarter, and worry less about platform-specific methods to achieve the same functionality.

We encourage you to check out the Zurb Foundation theme before diving into your next Drupal project. There may be a slight learning curve if you’re new to Foundation, but learning the framework will be time well spent. Foundation has a great community that is always willing to help if you have any questions about the framework. That said, feel free to shoot us an email or comment with any and all questions!

“Mobilegeddon” In Perspective – What Site Owners Should Know About Google’s Latest Update To Search

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under SEO.

Back in November, I wrote an article titled Why Mobile-Friendly Sites Win at Search. The article described how the “Mobile-friendly” label would begin appearing next to sites that were deemed to be just that on all Google mobile search results. We now know that this was just the first step in the search giant’s emphasis on mobile ease-of-use as a significant search ranking factor.

In what some in the industry are describing as “Mobilegeddon”, Google has announced that starting April 21st it will be making a major update to its algorithm to “expand the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” It also said, “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

If you have a mobile website or responsive website, you will likely be ok (although Google prefers responsive websites as a general rule of thumb).

What does having a mobile-friendly site mean, exactly? In my earlier article I shared a link to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Enter your web address and it will analyze whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, and why.

If your website is older than five years, it probably has not been architected to be mobile-optimized. What can you do? Explore what mobile strategy is best for your business, then work with your web team or web partner to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices.

Spry Digital can also help you determine the best mobile strategy for your organization. Reach out to us here to start the conversation.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 3

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Tips.

Those grey skies and frozen walkways mean we’ve made our way into mid-January, but we’ve got some good tidbits below to warm you up. Here’s our collection of timely hits for week three of 2015.

Tech

We begin with a bit of a technology “checkpoint” of sorts. According to a report from the Swedish communications company Ericsson, 90 percent of the world’s population over the age of 6 will have mobile phones by the year 2020. Think back to what you were doing at age 6, because we were probably playing with an Etch A Sketch and thinking it was alien technology.

When sports and technology combine, the results can be pretty powerful. By now most of us know that Germany won the 2014 World Cup Final. What most don’t know is how they utilized wearable technology to monitor players and make decisions about which personnel to use in their matches to give them the best results.

Revolution CT, SOURCE = Medical Daily

Moving from the combination of sports and tech to the pairing of technology and medicine. Some incredible images have been released by General Electric from their next generation body scanner showing various internal organs in high definition. Truly an exciting time for medicine.

Windows is readying for the launch of it’s new browser, which goes by the name of Spartan. Recently some leaked images of the browser’s design have surfaced, revealing some big changes. Noteworthy is a new inking support that allows users to annotate a web page with a stylus and send those notes on to other users. Expect the official unveiling to come on January 21st.

Apps

They say that an additional display can increase productivity by up to 48%. Duet offers a means to use your iPad or iPhone as an additional screen without experiencing any lag time (Mac only).

This week EFF launched their first-ever mobile app which alerts users to breaking issues related to digital rights. Unfortunately Apple devices are left out for the time being due to the inability to satisfy Apple’s Developer Agreement.

Startups

The Good: This week Popular Mechanics released it’s rankings of the 14 Best Startup Cities in America, and our own hometown of St. Louis came in at Number 1. Businessweek cited the local ecosystem which supported entrepreneurs more than doubling From 2011 to 2013 in the region.

The Bad:  Maintaining a startup isn’t an easy task, and no better is that evidenced by this listing of 17 startups that dropped off the map last year. Notables making the list were Twitpic, Rovio (the creator of Angry Birds) and Living Social. Yes, Living Social…We’re afraid that now you’ll never get that $5 for Ten Yoga Lessons deal back.

Development

Just like it’s name suggests, Meteoric combines the best of Meteor with Ionic components and makes building cross-platform apps much easier. It allows you to build Meteor apps with Ionic with no Angular required. See it here.

Glenn Maddern wants you to know that Javascript is good, and wants to help you get excited about it. So he’s put together this amazing GIF beat-matching project to display new javascript ES6 features.

We end by extending a Happy Birthday to our object of affection, Drupal, who turned fourteen this week. And in observance of the past year, here’s a Drupal Retrospective 2014 to take-in.

Thanks as always for following-along with us.

Why Mobile-Friendly Websites Win At Search

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Web Design.

It’s no surprise that mobile traffic and referrals from mobile sites like Facebook are surging. While it’s convenient having the web at our fingertips, websites that require you to pinch and zoom to read content or to interact with the site are becoming more of a nuisance. If your website is not built responsively (or “mobile ready”), you may be turning off visitors and potential customers.

To help users find mobile-friendly content, Google announced this week that they have made changes to search results that will call out sites that have mobile-friendly content.

Example of Google's mobile-friendly label

Example of Google’s mobile-friendly label

With the change, Google is adding a “Mobile-friendly” label next to sites that, according to Google, meet the following criteria:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

How do you know if your website is considered mobile-friendly? Google provides a mobile-friendly tester for that. Type in your address and in seconds you’ll know whether your site is seen as mobile-friendly by Google.

If not, it may be a good time to consider a responsive website redesign so that you don’t lose out, as we expect this feature will drive more traffic than ever before to sites that have been optimized for the mobile experience.

Dispatches from The Spry Hive 2014: Week 36

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Tips.

Well, it was a short week for many of us after the holiday, so that just made Friday arrive more quickly. But hey, even better – it made our own weekly roundup of what’s new, good (and creepy?) come back around in a flash. So let’s get to it…

Apps

Now, how many apps do you have on your phone that could be deemed as “creepy”? Don’t answer aloud, because Apple has taken upon itself to target these by updating its App Store review guidelines:

“We have over a million apps in the App Store. If your app doesn’t do something useful, unique or provide some form of lasting entertainment, or if your app is plain creepy, it may not be accepted”

How’s that for some definitive parameters? So much for the upcoming launch of “Doggie Tinder.” Dog parks may now rejoice.

For those who always picked “Truth” over “Dare,” you’ll dig the news that Reddit has launched a new mobile app based on it’s extremely popular “Ask Me Anything” interviews. Now, as for a “Dare” version of said app – don’t ask.

Dev and Web

Think the value of documentation is waning and just want something you can get your hands on? Then you might applaud this take on how prototyping is replacing documentation in today’s world.

If you’re looking for a nifty way to test your local website on a mobile device or iPad, take a look at this method utilizing MAMP.

Startups

A recent ranking by Forbes placed SIU Carbondale on its list of most entrepreneurial universities in the US. This comes based on what Forbes calls its “entrepreneurial ratio” which it describes as “the number of alumni and students who have identified themselves as founders and business owners on LinkedIn against the school’s total student body.” Way to go, SIUC.

Another nod to St. Louis-based startup Pixel Press, which is partnering-up with Cartoon Network. They’ll be producing a create-your-own video game app for the network’s most-watched show “Adventure Time.”

Miscellaneous

Talk about a mirage. Raise your hand if you happened to notice that 75% of IKEA’s catalogue is computer-generated imagery? Gone are the days of CG being confined to things as trivial as giant dinosaurs and oversized monkeys climbing the Empire State Building.

Madden Glitch

From the realm of the incredibly-darned-cute, a spectacular new glitch in the Madden ‘15 NFL game features a tiny, tiny linebacker (1-foot-2 to be exact). But this kid’s got game! Does it make it somehow more perfect that he appears on the roster for the Tennessee Titans? We think yes.


That’s about it for this (abbreviated) week. Stay frosty.

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 11

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

Well, I’m going to be honest. That whole “Spring Forward” thing kinda kicked our butts this week. But today is Friday and we have many pies in honor of the geekiest of holidays, Pi Day (3.14).  So as we sat around the kitchen table stuffing our faceholes with nine kinds of pie, here’s what we chatted about:

  1. If you missed it yesterday, check out Appcropolis‘ contest to create a wicked mobile app that benefits a worthy nonprofit. Winners get prizes and the satisfaction of knowing they did something awesome.
  2. Why should you care when one tech company buys another? What does it all mean?
  3. Missed SXSW or totally sick of it? One thing we bet you’re not sick of: Oreos. SXSW had a vending machine that 3D printed edible color Oreos powered by Twitter. What a world.
  4. Want a beautiful, open sourced framework for mobile apps using HTML5? Check out Ionic.
  5. “Is it possible to upload and read the WhatsApp chats from another Android application?” YES.
  6. Sometimes weird ideas can be brilliant. “We had to create a circumstance where we were allowed to fail at a very high rate.” Inside the unexpected success of Fred Seibert, the cartoon mastermind behind Spongebob Squarepants and Adventure Time.
  7. Tired of Googling the syntax for curl and don’t have time to wade through the man page? Get examples right from the command line.

That’ll do it for this week. Have a delightful weekend, behave yourselves out there.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive

Posted by Julia Koelsch & filed under Tips.

This is the first of a semi-regular series of links and articles that caught our attention this week.

1. We like HipChat a lot and use it as our internal group chat. Now we like it even better with the discovery of hidden HipChat emoticons.

2. Nifty list of .htaccess tricks.

3. There are tons of articles about how we all check email too much. But this article presents an interesting alternative: deep work.

4. This little tool is invaluable for testing responsive behavior.

Mile-High Inspiration from DrupalCon 2012

Posted by Julia Koelsch & filed under Drupal.

I had the fantastic opportunity to attend DrupalCon 2012 for Spry Digital. We met many fellow Drupalers, attended tons of sessions, and enjoyed a pint or two of Denver’s finest brews. I was blown away by the quality of the presentations as well as the friendly and supportive community that make up the Drupal community. I’ve had a little time to reflect on the past week, and am really excited by some of the trends that emerged:

DrupalCon Denver 2012

Collaborative publishing for every device.

1. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile!

The theme for the conference was “Collaborative Publishing for Every Device”, and the message came through loud and clear. Luke Wroblewski, author of Mobile First, gave a compelling keynote address on this topic. I’m writing this post on a mobile device, and chances are that a significant portion of those reading this post will do so on a mobile device. How does this impact our site development process? It means that:

  • The focus must be on the primary content and message of your site. Clever design is great, but it’s wasted effort if a user can’t find the information they were looking for when viewing your website on a smartphone.
  • The days of optimizing for the average desktop screen resolution are over. Page content should shift as needed based on various screen resolutions, so don’t get hung up on the pixel-perfect desktop experience. Here’s a clever example that demonstrates how page elements can shift around.
  • Speed and page size optimization are as important as always, but it must be done carefully. Poorly optimized images look even worse on high-resolution screens like the latest iPhones and iPads.

2. CSS preprocessors are hot

The days of spaghetti CSS are numbered. With technologies like SASS, LESS, and many others, you can write cleaner markup and modularize your CSS. These technologies have been around for awhile now, but many sessions I attended demonstrated how easy it is to use them in your projects. As we rely more on CSS to provide a richer online experience to a broader range of devices, these tools will help maintain your sanity while maintaining your CSS.

3. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Websites

Many of the “coder” sessions I attended covered topics like security, performance, and the operations side of development. The Drupal platform is secure and performs great out of the box, but developers need to know how to write secure and well-optimized code, regardless of your language and platform of choice. Security covers many aspects: not just avoiding writing code that can be compromised, but also automating repeatable processes and monitoring all aspects of your environment to provide a rich set of data for trend analysis. Tools like Hudson can help automate repeatable processes like site deployments and cron jobs. Monitoring tools like Nagios can monitor and report on all aspects of your environment to ensure your site continues to be fast and secure.

One last observation – while I learned lots of great Drupal-specific techniques, much of what I took from this conference can be applied to any web development project.

Thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors that helped make DrupalCon such a worthwhile experience!