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Decoding Twitter’s new looks

I am not sure how many of us have actually clicked on “Try the new look on Twitter”, for I know several friends who were very apprehensive about trying it. Change, after all, is not very easy to adapt to, more so, after Facebook put all of us through several torturous cycles of forcibly accepting new and changed timelines. Twitter likes to call them ‘web profiles’.

What’s different with Twitter then?

Twitter also started a spate of changes recently – some quite awesome, like the option of viewing pictures in the Twitter time line. Twitter woke up to the importance of images and video – essentially visually appealing content – and decided to include them in tweets.

With the new look now available for every user to try, Twitter seems to have tidied up its act in an attempt to drift away from its boring tweets only look to the more personalised, user friendly (albeit overloaded) timeline.

So, what has changed?

  • Elongaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated header that spans across one end of your profile to another is a no-miss feature. You need to have an image of size 1500×500 at least. Well, the good news is, you can add more informative content in your image.
  • Showcase – akin to the category cloud, the tweets that have garnered maximum engagement through favourites and retweets are displayed larger and more obvious than the others.
  • Straight on the lines of pinned posts on FB, Twitter now allows users to pin specific tweets on their profiles. These pins will be displayed as static content.
  • One of the most wonderful features added now is to let users filter tweets based on various criteria – so that means a sound goodbye to endless mindless scrolling!
  • Now I am debating whether the previous feature was awesome or this one – maybe you could decide for yourselves. Popup notifications!! I find this feature very useful whenever I use Twitter on my mobile phone. What’s more, you can switch them off.

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Responsive Design: Being device inclusive

A recent survey by ReturnPath has turned up with interesting numbers, stating that almost 51% of total emails sent in December 2013 were opened in mobile devices as against 27% on desktop and remaining on webmail.

Mobile Email Users prompt the need for responsive design
Mobile Email Users

The trend started in early 2011, when PC sales dipped down after sale of smart phones shot up and crossed the PC sale numbers. Between 2010 and 2012, the number of mobile Internet users had grown by 45%.

As per another survey by GetResponse that was conducted between June 2012 and March 2013, emails opened in mobile increased by 30%.

What are the implications of this survey vis-à-vis responsive design?

The implications are very clear. If your website/emails are not compliant with a responsive design, they are less likely to be read; and also more likely to get trashed/bounced off.

A majority of global online users carry smart devices, including smart phones, tablets and I-pads. Most of these users are perpetually online, connected to the Internet and almost always available the moment mails and messages pop into their inbox. This means, it is easier for them to just switch on their hand-held devices and check the emails right there, instead of waiting to get onto their laptops or desktops.

Many companies these days are heavily into email marketing and newsletter distribution. Emails and Newsletters is a great way to keep the customers abreast of the latest updates from your industry. However, if your emails are not responsive, which means, if your emails are not mobile-friendly when viewed on mobile and other devices, you lose traffic from your website.

Users hardly go back to their opened emails. Once opened, emails remain read, unless very important. It becomes vital for you to make the email reading for your customers an easy experience on their mobiles.

Most newsletters and emails look great on the Web. However, when opened on phones, a lot of issues crop up, especially those related to layout, design and fonts.

The fact is that only 25% of digital marketers or companies opt for responsive design for their mobile devices. (Email Marketing Census 2013 – eConsultancy)

For example, a very popular product company had a big lead form popup window inserted on its home page for product enquiries. The same web page, when opened in a mobile, was not optimised to re-size the pop up window as per the mobile specifications. As a result, the user was stuck as the close button was outside the scrollable area. On the mobile screen, neither the complete form could be seen, nor the complete window. The only option was to close the browser and abandon going to the site again.

Such scenarios are real time scenarios that crop up when a website is not optimised for the mobile and other devices. The disadvantages of bad mobile design could be humongous, including higher bounce rate and loss of RoI. A bad user mobile experience is not a good sign for any company, be it an e-commerce store or a real estate company.

Decoding responsive mobile design

Responsive Mobile Design
Responsive Design to cater to mobile users

Building a responsive mobile design is completely dependent on the following key aspects:

  1. Maintain a simple design, no matter how flashy, engaging or wow your web email design is.
  2. Keep it short and sweet – the KISS acronym applies here to the subject line, the actual email, and the format layout.
  3. Be relevant and to the point. Remember that a trash button gets hit easier on mobile than on the computer monitor where there is a lot more space to entice your customer visually as well as with context.
  4. Very practical design tips include increasing the line space, especially around clickable links to enable easy navigation. This also applies to button sizes. Consider the size of a finger that is going to click on the button. Design accordingly. Make sure your call to action is very clear in the final design.
  5. Font sizes need to be determined as per target device platforms because different platforms respond differently to font sizes.
  6. Keep reiterating your testing practices on different platforms to see the results, with focus on the loading time of emails and links within them.

Conclusion:

Mobile customers can turn into conversions on the go. Do not ignore them and ensure that your website is mobile friendly and also compatible with other devices.