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Survey reveals slow shopping websites affect visitor buying habits

Published on November 30, 2012
Tags: Usability, Web Development London

A recent survey by Monitis, a cloud and web app monitoring company found that many online shopping websites are not fast enough with new data providing warnings that many consumers have cancelled their orders due to slow response times.

Findings from 1006 online shoppers who were polled by Opinion Matters on behalf of Monitis, found that 56% of those taking part, when quizzed about website response times, spent more than two hours a week shopping online and admitted they had cancelled an order if the response times were slow.

74% of respondents also believed they would switch to a competing online shopping site if they felt they could have a better user experience and the website was a lot faster than the one they were currently using.

Other important findings from the survey found that in 81% of respondents, the number one reason for choosing to shop online was to make purchases instead of shopping at stores in the high street.

61% also found that price was the most important consideration when it came to choosing what to buy online. Meanwhile 61% of online shoppers might leave a web page and search for a competitor whose site doesn’t take longer than 30 seconds to load.

What does this mean for online shopping during peak season?

With the festive season approaching, online retailers (vendors) will need to ensure that their websites are providing shoppers with an efficient user experience which is efficient, but the onus is on the web developers and designers to avoid downtime as the holiday rush approaches. This is particularly important as for online stores, their success is solely focused on the minimum threshold of their uptime; so for every moment their website is down, they lose sales.

One of the ways in which an online vendor can ensure they make good sales is to have sufficient developers working on the system for maintenance in case the website goes down. Another option is to ensure the website is easy to access and highly usable, as 56% of respondents to the Monitis survey indicated that when comparing one retail site and why they went to another instead to do their shopping, website usability is an incredibly important factor, second only to price and reputation.

Online vendors should also have a good idea of the best time to shop online and according to the survey, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. is the most popular according to 40% of all respondents, while 32% preferred to do their online shopping in the early evening, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

All of these factors are things which a website vendor should take into account when thinking about how their visitors use the site during peak times, when demand for online shopping is high. Sub-optimal performance and a poor customer experience can result in transaction losses, so businesses need to learn how to optimise their website and strengthen their online stores for such occasions.

By Chelsey Evans

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Is developing mobile web projects easy with Adobe Edge Inspect?

Published on November 23, 2012
Tags: Mobile Application Development

Adobe is adding to its range of tools and services for mobile web projects by introducing Adobe Edge Inspect which is designed as a workflow and preview tool which can be simulated across multiple mobile web browsers.

This is useful if you need to pair your smartphone and your tablet with your computer so you can work across all devices simultaneously. It’s also the ideal tool for web developers and designers who want a more efficient and streamlined experience when working on apps and other web projects.

What makes it different?

One of its key features is that it allows you to take screenshots of your mobile content from a number of connected devices while providing you with synchronous browsing and remote inspection. For example you can pair multiple iOS and Android devices wirelessly to your computer, while with Edge Inspect you can also browse in Chrome to ensure all connected devices stay in sync.

Edge Inspect also has a number of development tools which allow changes to be made to HTML, CSS and JavaScript, while updating the device instantly. The screenshots are also easy to use as simply by pressing a single button you can connect all devices and then send and save them with your colleagues. It also allows you to transfer all screenshots to your computer and specify which folders they will be sent to.

Other features which Edge Inspect gives the user, to name just a few, include; Localhost URL support, the ability to hide and show Edge Inspect UI on mobile devices, HTTP authentication support, URL management, Cache management, HTML support as well as Amazon Kindle Fire support. The web technologies it utilises includes HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.

Adobe’s commitment to enhancing web creativity

At one of Adobe’s recent keynote sessions in San Jose, California they announced the availability of Adobe Edge Inspection which used to be called ‘Shadow’ alongside a number of other programs they are introducing for editing.

Adobe Edge Inspect is just one valuable tool which web developers and designers can use from a new set of powerful HTML5 tools which make it easy to make beautiful websites, mobile apps and digital content.

Adobe’s passion for giving creative people the ability to do anything they want with Web technologies is why they’re contributing to the Web platform in a big way, by making the Edge Tools and services available for free. This is a great move by Adobe who are giving professionals the tools and freedom they need to change the web, by producing visually appealing content across multiple platforms.

If you want to get started with Edge Inspect and the other tools available from Adobe, you can get a free Creative Cloud membership which gives you all the sources you need to create, collaborate and keep your projects in sync across a range of devices. This handy tool is ideal if you also want to install any of the new Edge Tools and Services along with publishing any apps and websites.

By Chelsey Evans

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Mozilla release Firefox 17 with new Facebook and social app integration

Published on November 23, 2012
Tags: Web Development London

The release of Firefox 17 by software developer Mozilla offers many new features, many of which offer numerous performance improvements and an integrated preview of Firefox’s impending integration with Facebook, known as Facebook Messenger for Firefox. This social integration in the form of a social sidebar, will form part of a social API which will in the future support other social networks.

The Facebook Messenger for Firefox app is completely opt-in, meaning that once you visit the Facebook Messenger for Firefox page and turn it on, you’ll see a social sidebar onto which you can receive Facebook chat and updates, comments and photo tags. There is also a ‘Like’ button in the URL bar so you can like pages and share websites that haven’t yet added their own.

Other key features of the Social API include giving web apps, news feeds and document editors a more permanent position in your browser’s window. By Mozilla choosing to extend their Social API they are moving the position of social websites away from tabs and into a social sidebar so that you can browse any number of internet pages while staying in touch socially on facebook, without having to switch tabs or even log in.

The future of social media and internet browsers

What does this mean for the future of internet browsers? It means that other social websites such as Twitter might follow something similar, allowing for easier integration between social networks and browsers. It could also form the focus of other websites who start looking for ways to tap into the Social API by building tools which will enhance their presence and communication on the internet.

In regard to privacy, Tom Lowenthal of Mozilla’s Privacy and Public Policy team says that, “Nothing will change in regard to the privacy of your data”. Although facebook is tracking what you do, it doesn’t mean that the site has access to any additional information present in your browser. It’s the same as whether you’d logged into the site without any of the new social features.

Another important element of Firefox 17 is that it marks the second “Extended Support Release” (ESR) which is a version of Firefox from Mozilla which is a community-led project. It allows organisations to benefit from the speed, flexibility and security of Firefox while getting the support they need. The ESR is designed for groups who deploy and maintain the desktop environment in large organisations like universities, schools, county and city governments as well as businesses.

Web developers will also find that it has many additional tools such as HTML editing, while the Style panel now allows developers to manipulate styles on a page. The new Style panel can do this same thing and work in real time with the document object model (DOM). It also gives greater access to rewriting any website copy as the live previews means you can quickly edit ideas without going into HTML templates or opening a text editor. 

By Chelsey Evans

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Does the internet need a new web development model?

Published on November 16, 2012
Tags: Web Development London

Since its formation, the internet has undergone numerous changes, the most significant of which is the change from being a system-centred database to a user-centred system which focuses on the needs and demands of customers.

When the internet was created it was designed as a virtual library, where if you didn’t find what you wanted you carried on looking or just gave up. During this period, users rarely complained if they didn’t find what they wanted.

During the 90’s, the web developed into a new era known as the ‘Transaction Internet’ phase. The internet was no longer used for just finding out new information but for carrying out functions which would’ve previously been done on the telephone, mail or in person. These type of transactions expanded so that users could get new accounts, make payments, contributions, get licenses, permits and all other kinds of transactions.

By developing the internet for use in this way, the user-driven web was born and by 1999, the web refocused its efforts from being based for designers and managers to shifting its accessibility to users and consumers. This change meant that users had control over what kind of content they wanted and they demanded systems which functioned how they wanted. Designers had to change their approach to web design and development to make it user friendly.

Is a new development model needed?

According to a recent article by CMS wire, the internet has developed dramatically since the 00’s and over a decade on with user demands increasing and organisations adding more transactions to enhance their presence on the web, it might be time for a new web development model to come to fruition.

The web system community has been looking to the business system community because of their proven methodologies for developing and providing a stable presence for their brands.

A big reason for this is that the user content on the web is nowhere near as predictable as in business systems. The web system community has tried to apply system development tools to any tasks they have, but the results have often been less than hoped for. Increasingly this is because while these methods work, new challenges are arising as a result of failing to meet core assumptions based on these methods.

Business systems are designer controlled meaning they offer a more professional insight into how to make the web system successful. Web based systems in contrast are often controlled by their users or providers of the information. Business systems are internal and designed to make the system successful, whereas web based systems base their ideology on building the necessary support into the system, based on whatever the user requires.

What does this mean for future web development?

A combination of the best of both business systems and web user driven systems is undoubtedly the way forward. Providing rigor into the system could ultimately improve the user experience while appeasing both the providers and users.

By Chelsey Evans

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eCommerce overtakes the high street as the King of Retail

Published on November 14, 2012
Tags: Web Development London

For the first time, internet shopping has overtaken the high street as the UK’s favourite way of shopping. New research from Tealeaf has shown that 83% of adults were pleased with their online shopping experience, compared to only 81% being in favour of visiting a bricks-and-mortar shop.

Surprisingly, it was not the youngest age group which preferred online shopping over traditional high street shopping, but the 34-44 age group which saw 85% satisfaction with online shopping and only 78% for traditional shopping. The survey was carried out online, but the results were weighted in the direction of high street shopping in order to eliminate any sample bias towards online shopping.
Signs of the high street slowly dying out have been apparent for some time. Only one in five consumers visits an high street travel agent when researching or booking a holiday, compared to the 80% of people who now book their holidays online or otherwise independently. This is symbolic of the general shift in attitudes with regards to retail and is backed up by this most recent research.
Increasingly, the mobile web is being used to make purchases online - a sign that perhaps the PC and laptop may have only a very short reign as the King of Retail. Tealeaf’s research showed that smartphones were used by almost a quarter (24%) of UK consumers to research products, with half of these making a purchase directly using the mobile web. Those aged 25-34 were most likely to have made a purchase using their mobile phone with 29% responding affirmatively, with only 19% of those aged 18-24 saying they had purchased products using their smartphone.
A recent Tradedoubler survey showed that a massive 71% of smartphone owners had researched products using their phone, with 32% doing so on a weekly basis. These people, however, mostly (38%) chose to complete their purchase using another method with only 25% choosing to complete their purchase on their smartphone. Interestingly, smartphone apps still lag slightly behind the mobile web in terms of the percentage of people who actually complete a sale, with only 12% making a purchase using a smartphone app. This is a trend which is repeated across the different age ranges.
When it comes to product research, 39% of 18-24s admitted to having used their smartphones to research products which they may be interested in buying, with 19% of them having used a smartphone app in order to do so. 19% also opted to purchase through the mobile web, which is significantly lower than the 12% of those who chose to buy a product through a smartphone app.
Whichever way you view the figures, it is clear that the retail sector is changing enormously. Only time will tell which methods of buying emerge as the King of Retail, but it seems that an air of change pervades throughout the industry. 

By Chelsey Evans

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