Use HTML5 Input Types to Make Users Happy

If you are like me, you get annoyed when they have to switch your mobile keyboard over to the number pad each time they have to enter a phone number in a web form. Or flip to symbols to find the @ sign for email addresses.  With some very simple HTML5 code you can enhance someones user experience with your web forms so the right keyboard for the job shows up automatically.

HTML5 has introduced a property for the type attribute for input elements. The new values are for contact details and include:

an email address (type=’email’)
a website addres (type=’url’)
telephone number (type=’tel’)

For example “<input name=”email” id=”email” type=”email” />”

You’re not going to see any difference when viewing on your desktop HTML5 compatible browsers however if you view the forms with Mobile Safari browser (on IOS) it will automatically use the appropriate keyboard for the job.

The iOS keyboards

The image below shows the different types of keyboards you will see for each of the HTML5 type attributed fields.



Its a very simple enhancement that is sure to pleasantly enhance your users web experience! So coders, don’t be lazy, consider the end user and create for them.  And me.  🙂

Posted in Code, Mobile | Comments Off on Use HTML5 Input Types to Make Users Happy

Writing Content For Mobile

mobile-application-development3While  discussing mobile marketing Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO)  states “The size of the audience makes this – the phone – a mass medium. It’s as important to a marketer as TV. This is as important – if not more important – than television.”  I couldn’t agree more.  As the mobile medium is so much more interactive and measurable. And the content written for mobile consumption must be tailored to that medium.

Intelligent marketers are paying attention to mobile as a highly effective medium for communicating to businesses as well as consumers. The demand to produce mobile content is increasing at an alarming pace. Is your business ready?

Here are some tips on providing the best written content designed for the mobile market:

  • Less is more – your message must be communicated in short blocks. You can apply the “Twitter rule” of 140 characters for each “paragraph.” This can be adjusted up or down slightly – but only slightly – depending on your particular type or style of content.
  • Headlines are king – your headline must grab attention. Make it bold and intriguing so the reader will take the next step.
  • Take some test laps – According to a recent Mashable article you can take an initial run at different techniques to determine what is most effective with your target audience. Note the responses and effectiveness through analytics and by reviewing feedback. If it works, try some other flavors and then rotate the approaches that are most effective.
  • Remember your message – keep your focus on your marketing message and make sure every word is used in the most effective manner to communicate that message.
  • Top down approach – the most important parts of your mobile content should be at the very beginning, which is the opposite of most other forms of writing. Because most mobile readers only spend a few seconds on each subject it is crucial to get the message across sooner rather than later.

The demand for mobile content writing will only escalate as mobile usage grows. Already we see a demand for mobile ready content in blogs, articles and web content for our customers as they recognize the mobile audience reading their sites.  And in our mobile app development we use the above methods to hone our messaging.  Now, put your pen to paper… er… or start typing!

New Onscreen keyboard requires a new mindset

Recently, Chris McMahon passed on a link to me about a brand new methodology of using onscreen keyboards called Swype. While in it’s infancy, it seems really cool. Instead of touching each letter individually, you draw a path between letters and a word matching search engine helps to do a predictive text to speed you up. CNet did a quick video on their site about it from the TechCrunch50 show (see below). It would not work for every project, and introducing a new mindset on input may confuse your customers so you should only use it when appropriate to your audience. And expect to have to give assistance while people learn it, but it can provide an impactful WOW factor to your edgy project! You will definately have people talking about your software.

To integrate, it requires their software which includes an SDK that allows our developers to add the onscreen keyboard to your application. The Swype concept is made up of three major components:

  1. Input path analyzer
  2. Word matching search engine with accompanying word database
  3. User interface – which is customizable by OEM’s such as Electronic Art to match the branding of the application


I’d love to get a project where this would be appropriate, as it could really add some extra bling to the kiosk or digital signage project. Could that be your project? 

A word of caution: No matter if you plan to use a physical keyboard or an onscreen keyboard such as the Swype system… always consider your customer. What will they prefer, what will be most intuitive and easy for them. Test with A/B testing if you have budget. But don’t let the input method get in the way of your killer app and kiosk’s success.

Lesson learned?

CBS launched a new app this week that allows “citizen journalists” to upload photos from their iPhones to The site that was meant to be a way for people to report on news going on around them, but has yielded unexpected results. Instead of newsworthy images most of what I found was photos of people’s kids and pets. Even more interesting, AdAge and Buzzfeed (WARNING: contains partial nudity) have articles about NSFW content being published. The site supposedly has a moderator for the comments and photos uploaded, but things are still slipping through. This is an interesting case where a large company has embraced new technology and the end product is something that potentially could harm how their brand is perceived.

Posted in Mobile | Comments Off on Lesson learned?

A Fine Line, Indeed.

Musing late yesterday afternoon about some very interesting application possibilities involving geolocation technology (location-based services), and  I had that hair-raising moment when I realized how much creepy potential lies therein (hey, I read Orwell’s 1984…). There’s something comforting about being able to drop off of everyone’s radar if you choose to do so. So there it is: the line. That fine line between a super-useful and convenient technology, and a very disconcerting surrendering of privacy. But in reading today, maybe Yahoo has the answer to this conundrum in a little thing they call Fire Eagle. The difference is that Fire Eagle is permissions-based – giving your marketing efforts mobile accessibility while leaving your audience in control of their experience.   Check out the whole story.