6 Simple Steps to Making a Mobile-Focused Website

6 Simple Steps to Making a Mobile-Focused Website

You’ll need a different mindset if your website is primarily designed for mobile users.

It’s funny when you think about it, but there was a time when websites weren’t really designed for smartphone screens. They were designed for the much larger monitors of desktop PCs. Of course, when you shrink those web pages you can hardly read and see anything, which became a problem when mobile Internet surfing became more popular. So the more farsighted website owners created their websites for PCs, and then they tried to have a different version for smartphones.

Nowadays, most serious websites have both a PC and a mobile version. In fact, more websites are actually being built for mobile surfing first, before a desktop PC version is created. That’s because more people are going online using the smartphones rather than their desktop PCs.

So how do you build a website that’s more focused on serving the needs of mobile visitors? Here are a few tips that can start you on your way:

1. Strip Your Pages Down

When you’re determined to build a website that’s actually geared for smartphone users, you can’t use overly complex webpages. You have to simply your web pages instead.

There are good reasons for this. One, with a small screen to work with you don’t want to overwhelm the user with too many details. A simple layout works much better so they know what to do. Two, with too many complex elements it’ll take too long for a web page to load, and we all know how impatient mobile surfers are. If it takes more than 3 seconds to load a page, chances are good they’ll press the back button and try another website.

2. Plan for Your User’s Needs

Will they be tapping buttons on the web page? If so, you need to make those buttons visible, and they should be large enough so that they can be tapped easily enough. Will they have to input a username and password? If that’s the case, you’ll have to put in a keyboard interface as well. What if they’re looking for a particular section? You may want to feature a clear outline of your site, and a search bar can certainly help.

You have to put yourself in your website user’s shoes. Pretend you’re the user and you need to find something on your website. You’ should then realize what kind of helpful elements you need to put in.

When you’ve designed your web pages, try them out first. You have to know for sure how they would work within a mobile browser.

3. Don’t Forget about Laptops

When you’re designing with a smartphone user in mind, at least you have a touchscreen working for you so your users can simply swipe along the way to navigate your site. But that’s not exactly the case when your mobile user is actually using a laptop. In some instances, they don’t have a mouse either.

What this also means is that you have to plan for various resolutions to make sure your web pages appear at their best. Laptops are often limited to 1024 x 768 resolutions, and that’s what you need to plan for. In fact, check out the various screen sizes of the most popular laptops so you can have a different version for each resolution.

4. Going with Responsive Layouts

Some people would rather opt for a responsive layout, rather than have a different type of website for each type of Internet device. With a responsive design, your website morphs to fit whatever type of resolution your website user is using.

This can be quite convenient for you. You’ll have the same HTML markup that works on all screens. You won’t have to go with specific stylesheets for different types of devices.

Since you’re focused on mobile users first, at least with this approach you take care of the needs of those using smaller screens. Of course, there’s a good chance that you won’t get an optimal look when you’re website visitor is using a desktop browser. But those are bugs that you can fix later. These guys aren’t your top priority after all.

To help you see just how responsive websites can work for different devices, you ought to do some research on the various responsive sites that are currently in operation these days. Just Google for them and you should find them easily enough. You can then cherry-pick the features that you want to appear on your own responsive website.

5. Don’t Forget about the Navigational Requirements

If you’ve been designing websites all this time with a focus on desktop users, then you’re probably more used to people who can just use a mouse to get around a webpage. That’s not going to fly with a mobile website.

For most website designers, the simplest solution here is to just have your page sections cascade down. Your visitors can just swipe downward to see more of your content. You can also have your links appear constantly at the top or at the bottom of the screen so that they can get around your site more easily.

Just don’t go overboard and put in too many links on your navigational menu bar. Just go with the basic root items instead.

6. Set Up Your Images Properly

Dealing with image content can be problematic when you have such a small screen to work with. One solution is to have a set of images solely for small smartphone screens, while you have another set for normal displays. However, you can’t overlook the need for high-resolution images for iPhone retina displays.

Another solution is to set up all your images to contract and then expand up to the maximum point. This can work just as well for desktop users too. Even HTML5 video supports this setup, so it’s convenient.

It does require a different mindset when you’re building a website that’s more focused on mobile users. The old ways won’t work if you’re used to traditional desktop websites. Whatever you do, just don’t forget to give it a test run on your own smartphone first!

Here are 5 Steps You Can Do to Prepare Your Website for Google’s Mobile-First Index

Author Details
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
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Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com

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PledgeLA to Boost Diversity and Inclusion in The Los Angeles Tech Community

PledgeLA to Boost Diversity and Inclusion in The Los Angeles Tech Community

As the tech sector in LA grows due to the saturation of the tech industry in the San Francisco area, the same problems in Silicon Valley are now coming up. There’s a growing tension between the upstarts of the tech industry and the regular folks in the community surrounding this IT boom.

According to critics, what will follow in LA will be what happened in San Francisco if there’s nothing done about it. Regular people and longtime residents will feel alienated and looked down upon. They will feel like they’re being forced out by the higher rents and costs of homes as well as the prices of regular consumer goods.

That’s why more than 80 entrepreneurs and tech investors are joining Mayor Eric Garcetti and the non-profit Annenberg Foundation to launch PledgeLA. This is the LA tech community initiative that seeks to avoid what happened in San Francisco and to the people there who felt disenfranchised by the growing tech boom.

PledgeLA Features

Features of the initiative include the following:

  • More opportunities will be provided for everyone, regardless of race, background, or gender. So even non-white women who grew up poor should have the same opportunities as the white guys who grew up rich.
  • Those who signed to the PledgeLA agreement will track civic participation and diversity data each year. That data will be made public so that people will know if a tech company is made up of exclusively white males from the Ivy Leagues and other top schools.
  • Startups and funds will report on the composition of their workforce noting various factors. This won’t be just noting age, gender, and race. It will also note socioeconomic origin, educational attainment, and even sexual orientation to see if there’s bias against hiring members of the LGBT community. Other factors will include the status in regards to disabilities, immigration, and military service veteran. Even the tenure at a firm will be noted.
  • The signatories also will come up with a proper code of conduct centered on diversity and inclusion, and diversity will be practiced in corporate hiring.

Good Business Sense

While many who signed PledgeLA did so out of a sense of moral and ethical rightness, it also makes good business sense to emphasize diversity on corporate hiring practices. A Diverse workgroup brings different points of views when it comes to making decisions. It helps with networking for sources of talent, and the diverse work group can help build a diverse consumer base as well.

LA has now become one of the top 5 US destinations for technology investment and it’s now one of the top tech hubs in the country. The top 100 tech companies in LA and Orange County has reported a 24% increase in employment within the last year.

There are a still a few notable holdouts to PledgeLA, however. Tesla and SpaceX have not yet signed on, and nor has Snap. But LA is an inherently diverse area, and such a diversity must be maintained in the tech workplace as well.

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

Appz, a Smart Personal Assistant for Your Instagram

What is Appz and why should you use it?

If you have an Instagram account you know that managing and handling it can be quite the nuisance. You need to spend a lot of time writing comments, replying and talking with customers. That’s why you need every helping hand you can get. And it’s a good idea to try Appz if possible.

This is a really nice Instagram assistance that allows you to do the right amount of maintenance while also automating the processes that eat up so much of your time. What you will like the most about Appz is that it’s a personalized, brand-building assistant.

Once you install Appz, you can automate just about any Instagram process you can think of. It works great for auto-commenting, auto-following, and auto-liking as well. It works great if you want to acquire new followers too because it will like content created by people that have similar interests to you.

How can you use Appz?

The way Appz works is simple, you just need to add the desired hashtag and then it will do the rest for you. Appz will find people that share and access similar content and then you can engage with those persons in no time.

Not only that, but you can also monitor what Appz does via a dashboard. You can see things like engagement stats, activity statistics and so on. Every detail matters and with Appz you really get to have all the info you need in a comprehensive package. The interface is very easy to use and you can easily get a good idea of what people you need to reach, how to approach them and so on.

Appz does a very good job at optimizing your content since it works non-stop to find similar hashtags to the ones you are using and it also creates the best way for you to reach more people on Instagram. It’s nothing forced, everything is natural and it works exactly the way you want.

Why should you use Appz?

You should get the Appz Instagram Assistant: Lifetime Subscription because it makes it easier for you to find followers and generate more leads for your business. You also get to figure out what triggers the engagement, where you can find new followers and how you can promote your business even more. Plus, you can even drive up your likes, increase your reach and affiliate with influencers.

If you want to improve your Instagram presence and acquire more leads or customers, Appz is here to assist. It delivers great value and efficiency, and you will be amazed at how many followers you can get this way. Plus, Appz can be fully automated and it works non-stop for you in the background. Avail this great opportunity and check it out today!

Also, check out these 15 Hacks to Get More Instagram Followers

Author Details
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
×
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

The cost of software development kills innovation by limiting resources available to solve problems

THE PRODUCTIVITY DILEMMA

Let’s face it – software development is expensive.  Really expensive.  It’s not hard to understand why – software development is a complicated and still-maturing industry, and as the sector grows, it actually gets more complicated, not less, because of the acceleration of changes in technologies, programming languages, and toolsets.

As a technology consultant, one who is paid to help build expensive, complex systems, I should be happier than a fanboy on a Fortnite bender about this trend, right?  Wrong – it frustrates me a great deal.  My job is to solve problems and build things that people need, and that gets harder when funding becomes a challenge for our clients.

So here’s the question I’ve been grappling with – how can we make software development more productive to reduce costs?

There are lots of things our industry has done over the preceding decades to tackle this problem:

  • Developed working methodologies to build repeatable practices – Waterfall, Unified Process, Agile, XP, etc.
  • Created design patterns to solve common problems – MVC, SOLID, GoF, and many others
  • Leveraged lower cost resources through offshoring

None of these have been a panacea.  Look at any enterprise and you’ll find competing for SDLC methodologies, loose adherence to design practices, and the common efficiency roadblocks due to offshoring.  While these efforts have been helpful in managing cost, it is very difficult to measure the effect they have really had.

MEASURING PRODUCTIVITY

What to do, then?  More than anything, the focus of productivity has to start with the most human element of all – the individual developer herself.  The focus has to be on how to increase the speed that a developer can turn a designed solution into working code with as few errors as possible.

Anyone who has been in the software industry knows there are broad ranges in developers’ productivity.   It depends on the individual’s ability to understand programming theory, their educational background, years of experience, a personal situation at the time, how much Fortnite they play, etc.

Why is this important?  Quite simply, time is money.  The longer it takes a developer to code a solution, the more it costs.  In today’s environment of nearly full employment, demand for software developers has never been higher, which brings a lot of varied talent into the picture to meet the demand.  Anyone who has hired a developer knows the productivity gap I’m talking about – hiring is an expensive proposition and no matter how much interviewing you do, and you’re never sure what sort of productivity you’ll get until that person gets to work.

Why is measuring productivity so hard?  Because a good measurement involves an apples-to-apples comparison between developers, yet they will almost never complete the same task to produce the same set of code.  Since every development task is different, we cannot establish a baseline for how long it SHOULD take to perform a task versus how long it WILL take a specific developer.  Throw in each person’s differing levels of experience, education, and general abilities with the discipline, and…you get the picture.

Does that mean we’re stuck with technical interviews, coding tests, and answered prayers to create a team of highly productive software engineers?  Not quite.  Agile practices give us an opportunity to solve the biggest challenge in measuring developer productivity – creating a baseline to measure the variance between the estimated and actual time to perform a coding task.

HOW IT WORKS

Every ALM tool – Jira, or otherwise – allows a Scrum team to create story sub-tasks during their planning sessions.  Usually, a developer assigned to a sub-task has an opportunity to estimate the time it should take to complete that task, measured in hours.  During the sprint, developers can then track the actual hours spent so the team can evaluate the variance between estimated and actual hours.

This variance isn’t particularly helpful as a productivity metric because the individual developer may be much faster or slower than the average, and their estimations likely reflect this bias.

The solution to this problem is to have all the developers on the Scrum team estimate each subtask duration, creating a proxy baseline and a more reasonable expectation of the task’s duration.  Then, once a task is assigned to the individual developer, the variance calculations can start to have some meaning.

What meaning are we to glean from this variance? When looking at large sets of variances (hundreds or thousands of tasks over multiple projects), we can observe patterns in individual developers’ productivity.  If they consistently take longer to complete a task than the established baseline, we can look more deeply at the data to find root causes and potential remediations.  Is there a skills mismatch, allocation mismatch, or something else?  Does the developer need more pair programming or training in specific areas?

If a developer consistently performs tasks in less time than the estimations, we have hard metrics to reward that individual and encourage continued productivity.  We can also look at the data to see how we might have other developers emulate good behaviors from these high performers.

IMPLICATIONS

I know I know – I can hear the complaints now.  A small group of 2-4 developers on a Scrum team estimating a task cannot be used as a valid baseline, you say.  It’s a fair point, but any leftover estimation bias from a small sample size of developers would be offset by the volume of variance data we would collect.  As a manager, I care more about the variance trends and less about the exactness of anyone variance calculation.

But wait, you say.  All of this supposes a developer will be truthful in reporting their actual duration on a task.  People lie to themselves and others all the time (just read “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz) – if a developer knows they’ll be measured on variance, they’ll manipulate their actuals to improve their perceived productivity.

Again, fair point, but there is a self-policing solution to this problem.  An employee is generally expected to work 8 hours a day.  If a developer consistently under-reports their actual durations on a task, it would appear they were consistently working less than they should be.

Say a developer is assigned two 4-hour tasks, and he takes 1 day to complete both but only reports 2 hours of actual duration for each task.  We would see a report that shows him only working 4 hours that day.  With enough data points, we could easily spot a trend of under-reporting and take corrective action.

CONCLUSION

Why is all of this important?  As individuals, not just employees, we should all strive to improve ourselves every day.  That’s how society is supposed to work – we do things, we make mistakes, we learn from them and we grow in the process.  But we can’t improve what we can’t measure.  The method I describe is very easy to implement, as long as your team is following the Scrum ceremonies.  With simple metrics and trend analysis, maybe we can finally solve a difficult problem and leave ourselves more time to knock a few more things of that ever-growing to-do list.

Chad Hahn
Author Details
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.
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Chad Hahn
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.