Is Your Business App-Savvy?

Apps aren’t just for games and social media any more.

This infographic shows that smartphone use should really be called “app-phone” use. Even though the major apps are listed here, there are endless opportunities for companies to engage customers with helpful apps.

infographic-01

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Companies are finding all kinds of useful ways to use apps, from customer service and sales, to providing fast access to the team out in the field.

For instance, we recently developed an app that revolutionizes how medical practitioner certifications are maintained. We’re getting more and more requests from B2B businesses for app advice. How about your company, are you app savvy?

Concepting: What the heck is it and why should anybody pay for it?

When we describe the process for developing communications for our clients, they sometimes ask, what’s that concepting thing? Here’s an explanation of what it is, and why it’s important.

Concepting is an activity—but it doesn’t always seem like one. The participants are typically sitting—perhaps with their feet propped on a conference room table. At times, they talk. At other times, they seem to be studying the fascinating pattern of pockmarks in the acoustic ceiling tiles—possibly dreaming up new constellations. (“If you squint you can see a bunny rabbit.”)

Is this really necessary? Also, isn’t the term “concepting” hugely pretentious?

Yes and yes. Starting with the second question and moving backwards (just because), the term “concepting” has an unfortunate air of snootiness. (If a client wanted to know what concepting is, we could just show them a desktop-sized reproduction of Rodin’s The Thinker and win gold in the World Insufferable Poser Championship.) We could possibly use “brainstorming,” a term most are familiar with, but a brainstorming meeting, while similar, is not precisely the same thing. It typically involves more people, often from many disciplines within the organization, and it’s a bit more of a free-for-all. A concepting session usually involves two or three people whose primary job is conceiving and executing ideas for strategically planned content. (“Content” is another unfortunate word, but I’m going to stay on task here.)

Why do we need a concepting meeting?

Most projects sound deceptively simple. Our client PrimeSouth Bank once asked us for an ad that would convey the bank’s long history in four south Georgia communities. It wouldn’t have taken us long to bang out an ad that said something like “Serving your communities since 1891.” But our writer/designer team came up with something much more engaging. They proposed a photo of a couple and their daughter, with copy that promised to serve the couple today and the daughter down the road—just as PrimeSouth has been doing for generations. What really gave the ad emotional resonance, though, was its playful reference to a college rivalry everybody in the area is familiar with. It’s the kind of gesture a big national bank would never do—and it’s proof that PrimeSouth truly understands its customers. That kind of idea only comes out of a concepting session. Our team had to come up with—and kill—many lesser ideas before they were inspired to create this one.

concept-design

The first thing we do is review the creative brief.

Actually, that happens before we even go into a concepting meeting. It’s impossible to have a productive concepting meeting without the brief information not only on hand, but in mind. The creative brief informs the direction of our thinking. It tells us why we’re taking on the project, its aims, its audiences, and how we can measure its success, among other things. In short, it takes a good creative brief to bring about good creative.

Next, we get all obvious ideas out of the way.

Whatever ideas first come to our minds, the things we’ve seen before and are most familiar with, we immediately get that out of our system. If a client tasks us with selling a breath mint, we write every Tic Tac® association we can imagine on the whiteboard, then make every attempt to work outside of those listed associations. This is key to ensure your project is not some reheated version of a competitor’s. Nobody is truly excited about a microwave-ready meal.

Then, we chase down lines of thought.

It’s a game of “What if we did this,” in which a charade ensues and we try to quickly sell our counterpart on the notion. If something clicks, we go down that rabbit hole. If not, we wait for the next one, and pitch it twice as hard.
Each resource—that’s what we call copywriters, designers, illustrators, etc.—functions as a sort of check to the other’s ideas. If all works according to plan, an idea arises in which neither party can poke a hole; the idea floats despite the copywriter’s darts and the designer’s blades. We generally aim to have two, often three of these buoyant concepts before exposing them to a more abrasive rigor.

That next test? Strategy and sandpaper.

Now we ask ourselves: how difficult would it be to produce ideas A, B, and C, respectively? How expensive is each likely to be? Assuming a budget of X and a timeline of Y, we can easily rid ourselves of option B, and so on. If we’re lucky, we’ve got two ideas left standing. We’ll then take those to our Creative Director—the one here to remind us that whole lemons can still float.

We also bring in the Strategic Account Director. (This person doesn’t suddenly appear at this point in the process, but rather, early and often.) Strategic Account Directors understand the client and their target audience better than anyone, so they stand by to confirm that the creative remains in line with the brief, the client’s needs, and most importantly with the brand and its buyers.

We have lift-off.

Eventually, an idea passes our gauntlet, and it’s time to make a mock-up that we can show to our internal team and the client. The mock-up goes to the Creative Director, who puts a smiley-face sticker on it (sometimes right away, other times after some adjustment), and then it goes on to the Strategic Account Director. She has her own set of stickers and once she has applied one, the mock-up is ready for client eyes.

After all that, when the concept is out in the world and proving its worth, we might think back to the time spent bouncing ideas around and remember that this is why we love our jobs. It’s hard to come up with an idea, fall in love with it, and then push it aside when it doesn’t measure up. It’s hard but it’s also the most fun thing ever. And when it solves a problem for an appreciative client, we’re ecstatic.

Two Faces for Facebook?

When is it appropriate to show multiple brand personalities in social media?

A client had an interesting question. Their events management business, based at a beautiful, unique location, hosts all kinds of events, from weddings to corporate meetings. They wanted to know, with these very different audiences, should they use one Facebook page to build the brand, or two separate pages which might not be as brand-centric, but would better serve the target audiences?

Opinions from digital marketing and brand marketing professionals varied. They generally had an immediate response, as though the answer were obvious, but their answers differed. Some said it should be one page, others said two.

The one-page argument pointed out that it puts everything in one place, is easier to manage for a team with limited time and budget to keep the page updated, and it would be easier to ensure optimal SEO. All practical considerations, especially for a small business. They also pointed out that if the brand were broken into two pages, it could cause people to pigeonhole them as only a wedding venue, or only a business events venue. Viewers would miss the complete story.

The two-page advocates admitted that it added management complications and would demand additional, precious man-hours to keep the content fresh. That’s especially challenging in a small business where people already wear multiple hats. They weren’t as concerned that people would only get half of the brand offerings if they only saw one page or the other. They pointed out that each page should reference the other with fresh updates for both.

Back to fundamentals: know your audience and speak their language.

The more complicated marketing gets, the more important it is to practice the fundamentals. In this case, that meant putting the target audiences first, and asking, “What’s important to our clients?”

An excited bride-to-be, searching for her dream wedding location, is not going to be inspired by a Facebook page that shows updates with pictures of pinstripe suited executives. Likewise, a business meeting planner will not be comfortable recommending a potential location to his boss if it looks like bridal bouquets will be flying through the air. Because these target audiences are so different, they demand a dedicated page for each segment.

Yes, this means more staff time invested in social media. But here’s the thing with social: it’s, well, social. Social settings demand certain appearances and behaviors. Most of us dress and talk differently in an important business meeting than we do for a Saturday evening cookout with the neighbors. Likewise, companies participating in social media, especially a personal channel like Facebook (as opposed to a professional channel like LinkedIn), need to consider the situation and participate accordingly.

Just as in real life, be socially appropriate for the situation.

Like real life, there is no perfect answer. Weigh your options, make a decision, and then monitor and measure. Remember, too, that you can always change it and try a different way. The beauty of online content is that you can test different tactics to learn what works best.

Christmas in July: Why Your Business Should Prepare for the Holidays in Summer

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “Christmas in July”, a phrase used loosely to describe summer indulgences. It holds an actual function for countries in the southern hemisphere, whose seasons are reversed. And though we find ourselves on the top half of the planet, we are thinking about the holidays even in the 90+ degree heat and a longing to be on the beach or by the pool.

A little planning now makes you smarter in December.

At Red Letter Marketing, we start holding meetings and discussing our holiday plans six months ahead of time, and we recommend you do the same. Ideally, it gets you ahead of the game—no competing for holiday resources, no employees out who’re necessary to complete projects, no last minute dashes for this or that. But to be honest, it simply keeps you on track. It keeps that feeling of “we never have enough time around the holidays” away.

Starting early leaves more time for creativity.

Our recommendation comes out of experience. In the early days of our company, we scrambled. That’s not to say things don’t get hectic still, but it helps greatly when you know in what direction to panic. Brainstorming for ideas in July means they’ll be solidified by summer’s end. Then you’ve got fall for execution, when nearly all employees are in the office. Since holiday projects come secondary to actual client work, it’s good to have these projects in queue for when employees have downtime, or simply need to work on something different for a bit. You’ll be surprised how much cooking gets done on the back-burner.

It doesn’t matter what your line of work may be. Marketing or otherwise, you’re likely responsible to clients, partners, friends, or supporters of some kind. Show them your organizational prowess. Plan ahead.

Oh, and Merry Christmas.

— Red Letter Marketing

Nielsen Media Consumption Updates

It’s long been predicted that TV and radio will lose a Darwinian battle to subscription on demand services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, etc.

The recent Nielsen Q1 2016 Total Audience Report indicates the media evolution trend is continuing, however broadcast—that’s TV and radio combined—is still the most powerful medium. For now.

TV and radio may not dominate the universe the way they once did, and statistics show they continue to lose share. But the chart below confirms their staying power as a resource to reach an audience. If you’re seeking to build awareness with the Boomer generation — who also have the deepest pockets — live TV still holds a 53% share of time spent. Combine TV and AM/FM radio (not streaming services), and you’re looking at 70% of a Boomer’s daily media consumption. Conversely, if your targets are 18-34, you’d best be paying attention to reaching them digitally and by subscription video on demand (SVOD). In fact, the average time per day spent on digital devices in this age group grew 74% in the last 2 years. But still, live television and radio claim a 46% share for the younger generation.

Somehow, AM/FM radio still hangs in there at 17%, though its audience skews older. 18-34 year olds spend an average of 10:19 minutes per day listening to radio, while 50-64 year olds top the average at 15:09.


So what does this mean for your strategic planning and your media commitments?

Broadcast is still a powerful tool to build awareness.That awareness gets translated to better engagement when customers seek your brand in digital mediums. But it’s more important than ever to be well informed, and to aim carefully before you fire off precious media dollars, because the landscape is shifting constantly.

The Bottom Line

When things get complex, applying the fundamentals of understanding how, when and where to reach your customers and prospects is more important than ever.

Remixing the Marketing Mix

The classic marketing mix is referred to as the 4 P’s; that’s Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. It originated in 1960, and over time marketers added additional P’s, like Packaging, People, and so on. I once worked for a corporation that used 10 P’s. (No, I can’t recite them). Whatever the number, the point was to use them as a tool to plan for successful product development, and the right placement and offerings in the marketplace.

The 4 P model has evolved as marketing has moved from a push model to a pull model.

It’s not easy to comprehend how much the world has changed since the 4 P’s was introduced in 1960. That was the era of a push economy. Manufacturers made things, pushed them into the marketplace, and told consumers what to buy. In the digital age, that model has flipped. Consumers have the power and they tell companies what they want (and when and where they want it). It’s true of B2B and B2C alike.

As a result, the movement evolved from the 4 P’s to the 4 C’s (shown below), but in 2005, Chekitan Dev and Don Schultz introduced an interesting model called SIVA. That is: Solutions, Information, Value, and Access. SIVA more accurately reflects the customer-focused strategy that’s required in today’s marketplace.

SIVA

“SIVA supports and builds on the true marketing concept—finding customer needs, wants, or desires and fulfilling them at a profit to the marketing organization.”

-Chekitan Dev and Don Schultz, Marketing Management, 2005

When consulting with our clients on their brand strategy and marketing strategies, I’ve found the SIVA model to be a useful tool. It’s important to always be present for customers, and to meet on their terms. The SIVA model helps provide the discipline and structure to do that, whether working to define the brand position, planning an ecommerce site, or crafting an elevator pitch. It reminds us that marketing exists to help find, convert, and keep customers, and we must never stop seeking to understand how we can better connect with them.

(This doesn’t mean we have to throw out the 4 P’s altogether. They’re still useful for internal management, because all that customer focus doesn’t negate the need to manage a business with discipline to ensure profitability.)

If you aren’t familiar with SIVA, play with it as you plan your next marketing project.

Instead of telling customers what service or product you provide, ask yourselves and your team, “What solution are we really delivering?” I know a company that sells foam balls for industrial cleaning purposes, like the insides of boom pipes that are used to pour concrete in construction work. The customers could care less that this company has foam balls. What they care about is not causing down time due to pipes full of dried concrete. That shift in focus makes all the difference.

Those same customers look for Value—what product will do the best job, and at what price. In fact, they chat about it on web forums, where they trade information and seek education. Companies that help them find Solutions, Information, Value, and Access (often in the form of education) will gain their favor.

Need help adding some SIVA power to your marketing? We’re just the folks to help.

What’s On Your Whiteboard?

What’s On Your Whiteboard?

Every desk at RLM has at least three screens and often more on display: multiple computer monitors, smart phones, and tablets. But our favorite brainstorming and puzzle solving tool is the good old whiteboard. Our main conference room has a 14 foot whiteboard that inspires team members and clients alike to bigger thinking. Every desk has at least one within arm’s reach, and you never know what you’ll see on them.

Research has shown that our brains are more active when we stand, move around, and physically write things down rather than typing into a keyboard. If our whiteboards could talk, they would have many a tale to tell of coding puzzles solved, site maps brainstormed, and headlines rewritten. In the spirit of sharing the chaotic processes of our creative and strategic minds, we thought to put our brains on display – well, our boards (less invasive).

20151001_140106-OlafHere you see the rare inner-workings of German design. This is the board of our Lead Designer, Olaf. Don’t ask us what any of this means. And don’t ask Olaf either. He’s concentrating.

20151001_140148-JonathanOrDesignerOpposite Olaf’s musings you’ll see the board between Garrett, another member of the design team. He can tailor a page like a fine suit, but don’t look toward the top right –it looks like he struggles with analog clocks.

Olaf

We don’t know what Olaf is doing here, but it looks important. Plotting the shortest way to getting his Costco shopping done, perhaps.

Nerf!-20151002-08White board strategy was the key to our Nerf War Victory over our sister company, Dynamic Quest. Here, Marcy plots hallway ambush tactics.

whiteboard-20151002-15-SeanSean always has some sort of strategy plotted out on his white board. And by the way, he is a doting daddy, can you tell?

20151001_140341This board hangs in the office of our creative director, Mike. On this particular occasion the board features a sketch of a print ad; a to-do list, without which Mike would be rudderless; a new floor plan for our office; a rudimentary Gantt chart and a couple of photos of his grandkids. Somehow, he failed to include a sketch of a kitchen sink.

whiteboard-20151002-14-Kitchen

We even keep a whiteboard in the breakroom that rotates subjects every few days. If someone has an idea, they throw it up there and wait for retorts as we swim in and out for coffee, tea, and (on Fridays) our front-end developer Scott’s biscuits. This board is from last fall, when the Carolinas saw unprecedented rainfall.

Some of our clients like to have meetings at our place rather than theirs, just so they can write on our giant white board. But we can’t show those.

Thanks for stopping by!

Google Gives Primacy to Expertly Written Content

Though the all-knowing algorithm remains under lock and key, Google’s Search Quality Guidelines were released less than 6 months ago. A cursory reading of these guidelines shows that Google now gives primacy to content written with higher levels of expertise. In short, the internet’s most powerful force is now behind skillful, authoritative writing that helps people more easily find the information they want. This is especially true in sensitive areas like medicine, finance, and healthcare, where the stakes for misinformation are higher.

More Expert Content

This is great news for us as internet users because we’re exposed to better and better content from more qualified sources. But no dynamic change is without resistance. Content farms—known for paying writers measly sums to generate loads of chiefly insufferable material—were undermined greatly by this change. It was also met with ire by flimsy organizations like Anti-Vaccine Movement, The Flat Earth Society, and Ken Ham’s Creation Museum, all of which claimed their voices were being stifled. Yet overall, Google’s new guidelines make for a better web experience with more respected voices now separated from the masses of chaff.

Lousy Content Brings Lousy Results

These changes confirm what Red Letter Marketing has stood for all along: valuable content that makes a difference for target audiences. There is still a plethora of false prophets in this territory, ready to sell you cheap and easy solutions to content marketing. Some have even recommended hiring a college student on the cheap to churn out blogs to keep your website content fresh. But the fact is, this won’t work, and is even less viable now than when it actually had some—albeit slight—impact.

The New Standard

Though more vital in fields like finance and healthcare, no industry is exempt from Google’s new E-A-T standard. This is the acronym for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. If you’re looking for information on air movement, Google is more likely to drive you to reputable sources like Dyson, Boeing, or Big Ass Fans. Though each of these companies operate in distinct industries, they have expertise in the realm of air flow.

Offering Valuable Content, Interestingly

What’s the lesson in all of this? Chiefly, you need to have an expert writer to produce your content, especially if content marketing is a main artery in your business development strategy. But industry expertise alone won’t cut it. You need to present that information in a way that inspires engagement. Hierarchy of information, scanability, and relevance all become significant elements in the presentation of content. You need to keep a reader interested, even excited about the content. Valuable information that’s poorly presented will drive visitors away faster than a toupee in a hurricane. It’s vital to keep your readers… well—reading. They want to leave the page feeling that you’ve provided something useful and accessible. If you’ve succeeded, they’ll remember, and are more likely to come back. If not, they may end up at a competitor’s site.

As marketers, we take content quality seriously. To do anything less is to disrespect readers, and consequently, customers. Because Google is now reviewing websites using the E-A-T standard, your site ranking is affected by the quality of your content. If you’re wondering how to create effective content marketing that gets the attention of both Google and customers, let’s talk.

Is Marketing Short-Sightedness Limiting Your Business?

Google “define marketing” and roughly 278,000,000 results pop up. The first definition is in this Google-provided display:

marketing

“the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

That definition covers a common, but short-sighted perception of the role of marketing. By this description, companies make a product or service and it’s the job of the marketing department to advertise and support sales efforts. But mine deeper and you’ll discover a larger, more powerful vision for the role of marketing.

True marketing is the discipline of discovering, creating, and delivering value.

Phillip Kotler is the S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. A formally trained economist, Kotler is internationally recognized as the world’s leading expert on marketing and marketing strategy. Here is how he defines marketing.

  • “Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.”
  • “Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customers become better off. The marketer’s watchwords are quality, service, and value.”

In short, you understand customers’ needs, then ascertain the best way to deliver them value. Kotler believes marketing to be both science and art. Science, in the form of research, delivers the critical information necessary to shape marketing strategy. But information without insight is impotent. It must be translated into authentic connections that touch and resonate with people. That is the art of marketing.

Marketing is the discipline that drives all other functions of business.

A great (and still relevant) giant in business management was Peter Drucker. He stated,

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Marketing then, must lead and drive all other business activity. Here’s an example.

One of our clients is a century-old company that had enjoyed success with a traditional, push-driven manufacturing model. They made cabinets on a mass scale, then sent sales people out to sell them to builders. This was good work until imports drove basic builder products into a price point game, radically changing the marketplace. Rather than continue their manufacturing-driven business model—which would almost certainly result in the demise of the business—they took a courageous initiative to change, and adopted a marketing-driven business model.

They listened to their customers as never before. They studied the marketplace and identified ways to create value that would put them in a long-term, sustainable position for success. They redesigned the product planning and manufacturing processes in order to deliver on said value. They focused on using a marketing model to drive business planning and production. Now, as it goes into its 110th year, the company is bursting with renewed energy and stability. The future looks bright.

Use marketing strategy to position your business for success.

Companies that implement a marketing-driven business model can establish competitive advantages that build long term success. By constantly seeking new ways to deliver value, they are able to innovate and align their resources appropriately. Those who treat marketing as a tactical activity, simply to feed the sales pipeline, miss out on the long term power of marketing. When rapid changes occur in the marketplace, they struggle to adapt.

Remember the Drucker quote: “marketing and innovation.” Follow the true meanings of these words, and remain malleable to success.

Interested in learning more about marketing strategy and how it can drive greater success for your business? We love to talk!

RLM Fast Forward: Social Media Edition

Welcome to the first installment of the RLM Fast Forward – our look at the latest trending topics and articles in the world of marketing that we think are worthy of forwarding to our colleagues and clients.  This edition will focus on the fast-changing world of social media as we highlight 5 recent articles that caught our eye.

  1. A map for the minefield. Common Small Business Social Media Mistakes to AvoidFor small business owners, social media is a playing field that can result in a lot of wasted time and energy if not approached in the right manner.  This article provides great advice addressing some of the most common missteps and how to avoid them as you begin your waltz through the social media minefield.  One of my top picks on the list – Mistake #9, Failing to Establish Social Media Metrics – you must ensure that you have a plan to evaluate your effectiveness.Read more here:
    10 Social Media Mistakes That Small Business Owners Make
  2. Does size really matter? Quality vs Quantity of Followers on Social MediaThis short but insightful podcast ponders the question of quantity versus quality when it comes to your following on social channels. The focus is now shifting from accumulating larger and larger numbers of followers to cultivating a truly engaged and passionate audience that will help amplify your content. The podcast also discusses what does (and does not) make for a potentially valuable, influential follower.Listen to the podcast here (Runtime: 3 minutes 33 secs):
    How Do You Measure Passion? Figuring The Value Of Social Media Followers
  3. Let’s get visual. Tools for Creating Quick Visuals for Social MediaAdding relevant custom images to your social posts can greatly boost engagement.  Content with images get 94% more views than content without images (Source:  jeffbullas.com).  So having the right resources to quickly and effectively develop visual content is critical to social media success. This article is titled 20 Killer Blogging Tools for Customizing Your Content but it is every bit as useful for social media content as it is for blogging. The piece offers a nice list of tools for quickly developing custom images to use in social media posts.  Tools, such as Canva, a free, easy-to-use graphics tool that offers templates specific to several types of social media posts and profile page images.There are some great tools here, however, do proceed with caution. There is potential to do more harm than good if the quality of your graphics is low.  Don’t just unleash any member of your team with this easy-to-use arsenal of graphic weapons or you may suffer injury from some friendly fire.  In other words, these tools can make it very easy for design-illiterate team members to design something that does not reflect well on your brand.  These tools should not be considered a replacement for graphic design expertise but rather a tool to better support your graphically-inclined team members.

    See the full list of tools here:
    20 Killer Blogging Tools for Customizing Your Content

  4. Tweet first, ask questions later (strike that, reverse it). Creating a Social Media PlanOne of the biggest issues that we see with clients dabbling in social media is that there is no method to the madness.  Sporadic communications with no clear target or objective won’t get you very far on social.  Before jumping in, take an extra second to aim.  It is important to first define who you are talking to, where they are hanging out (what social channels), what message you want to convey, and what action you want your audience to take. This article will help make sure you are asking all the right questions as you formulate your plan to infiltrate the social airwaves.Check out the full article here:
    6 Steps to Create a Bare Bones and Profitable Social Media Plan
  5. Numbers speak louder than words. The Statistical State of Social Media. If you are trying to drum up some support from decision makers to invest in social media or just trying to make some informed decisions for yourself, you may need to call for a little statistical back-up to help make your case.  The impressive stack of stats provided here can help build a better understanding of the current size and opportunity available across the social channels.This article covers a wide span of statistical information related to the current state of social media – for example, 70% of the US population now holds at least one social networking profile!  Social statistics are provided in a variety of areas, including:
    • Current and projected social media usage in the US and worldwide
    • Demographics of social media users
    • Social media metrics and measurement
    • Social media advertising
    • Social media use by large enterprises

    Get more great social stats here:
    47 Superb Social Media Marketing Stats and Facts

Thinking about ramping up your social efforts? Learn more about our social media services or contact us with any questions you may have about how best to tackle social media for your business.

Four Keys to Eye-Popping App Design

With Great Resolution Comes Great Responsibility

Today’s technology gives us access to devices with extremely high resolution and amazing display capabilities – but not all devices (and all users) are created equally. And as with any comic book superhero, this great power can be used for good or for not-so-good. In other words, with great resolution comes great responsibility. To avoid going to the dark side, do not get caught in these high-res pitfalls.

Avoid the Squeeze Play

When designing for high-res displays there may be a desire to push the limits of size and spacing of interactive elements, squeezing more and more functionality into a single screen. Fingers are not as precise as mouse-based cursor inputs, so don’t get carried away here or your users may struggle. Users may attempt to tap on what they think is a touch control, but if they miss a too-tiny touch zone they may think that it is not actually a control after all. End result: user exits stage left frustrated and confused. When considering the appropriate size of touch zones for interactive elements (and spacing between elements) think about who will be using the app. For example, if you are designing an app for young children, their finger size is much smaller; however, their manual dexterity and fine motor skills may not be fully developed, therefore requiring a larger target zone for tapping.

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

Small font size and extremely fine detail may be possible on high resolution displays but may interfere with ease of use. Just because your device can graphically support a clear rendering of a 4-point font does not mean you should take advantage of that capability. The size of text, level of graphic detail, and related color choices should fit the unique needs of your app audience. Again, it’s really important here to consider who will be using your apps. If you are designing a dating app for seniors, the visual acuity and color perception of your users is going to be much different than an app targeting high school baseball players.

Aim to add fine graphic details and extra text only when it buys its way in to the app by adding value. Does the extra detail aid in the users’ understanding of an icon, make navigation clearer, or reduce scan time? If so, congrats! You’ve made the team!

Prevent Brain Freeze

We all know about brain freeze, right? Eating too much ice cream way too fast – brain freeze!  Well, brain freeze can also occur when you’re hit with too much information too quickly. With high-res displays, avoid the urge to overwhelm the user with too much information all at once just because it is easier to fit more content on to a single screen. The thinking may go something like this: More Info on One Screen = Fewer Screens = Better Experience. However, going this route may actually have the opposite effect, making the user’s experience less efficient and less enjoyable by bogging down the user on a content-heavy screen that they simply may not tolerate. Again, the end result is user exiting stage left to find the next app on the list.

Establish early in the design process the specific tasks that will be accomplished in the app, as well as the associated information required for the user to successfully accomplish these tasks. 

As you are designing the app, walk through mockups screen-by-screen to ensure you are providing the right level of information at the right time for your users. Allow them to effectively complete the desired tasks without overwhelming them. Whenever possible, simplify the experience to guide the user in a clear, intuitive manner that makes them want to keep exploring. An extra screen or two may be okay if you are simplifying each interaction and reducing the cognitive burden of the user throughout the experience.

Honey, I Shrunk the Icons

When developing your app you want to establish a good sense of the range of devices on which it will likely be used, and prepare your design accordingly. Make sure that your app display does not get lost in translation when being rendered on a lower resolution device – not everyone is on a Retina display yet. Device canvases vary greatly between high and low resolutions and between mobile phone and tablet platforms. Make sure you are able to appropriately scale your design for the full range of devices you expect to be used, so that you do not alienate any segments of your market.

If you want your app to stand out in the vast wilderness of the app store, take an extra second to consider both the available display capabilities and your users’ unique capabilities and limitations. There are a lot of choices available in the app store so please design responsibly when going high res!

Thinking about a new mobile app for your business? We can help. Learn more about our mobile app development team or contact us with any questions you may have about the app design and development process.

The Nerf War Rages On

Strategy. Execution. Results.

The battle horn blows. The thunderous clap of a hundred geldings tears through the morning air. The techies approach, weapons in hand, following their gallant leader, Lord Javier: Warden of the North and Defender of the Motherboard.

It is time. The Nerf Wars are upon us.

Red Letter Marketing Creating a Strategy for Nerf War

First, we strategize. Marcy, who’s appropriately the lead project manager at RLM, charts our defenses and assigns positions according to stealth and weaponry.

Tell Stealth To Mind the Monitors - Red Letter Marketing Nerf War

Daniel the Stealth watches the monitors to cue entry into the building. (Maybe he’s checking his email. It looks like he’s checking his email.)

Now we execute.

We flank and shift, fire and storm. Within the first few minutes we have a clear upper hand.

Red Letter Marketing Executing their Nerf War Strategy

Garrett holds the high ground, carefully picking off the techies one by one.

Now the results.

Red Letter Marketing won the Nerf War vs. Dynamic Quest

See here the defeated CEO, Lord Javier, conceding defeat with a smile.

There Is No Other Way To Come - Red Letter Marketing is Victorious in their Nerf War Invasion

Olaf stands victorious near the former front lines, having unloaded enough foam to shame Fed Ex.

That’s our style no matter what we do: Strategy. Execution. Results. (And a little fun thrown in for good measure.)