mobile apps

Common Practices for Mobile App Development

Google Play Store has 2.8 million apps whereas iOS App Store has 2.2 million apps. We won’t be seeing a decline in revenue generation any time soon. Revenue forecast for mobile app development is predicted to reach $80.6 billion in 2020 (it was $44.6 billion in 2016).

We are familiar with the notion of ‘cross-platform’ or ‘mobile-first’ but the patterns or the guidelines and key points are crucial for understanding. While designing end-to-end experiences, we must remember the platform and the rules coming along.

Respect the Platform for Mobile App Design

Native platform guidelines keep on changing, so it’s a good practice to stay on top of recent practices. Hire mobile app development services as good companies have documented patterns and components for each platform (iOS, Android). Designing interface for whichever platform requires understanding of the user. The niche business is planning to target. Get hold on user behavior and then the platform.

Use App Store for Marketing

Google Play Store and IOS App Store are goldmines for researching user flow. Read surge reports and top charts as they will help in better withholding with user mindset. There are stats and tools for extracting the user data, utilize it for the app marketing and virility.

User Benefit Comes First

Design for user benefit, not all use cases are alike, sometimes usual use cases bring exceptions. Avoid approach of designing certain feature or app element for reusability purpose.

Mobile apps offer fast results than mobile web browsing, plus they increase brand visibility.

Don’t Skip Scalability Factor

A mobile app should offer scalability across different mobile devices. A uniformity in design and behavior of the mobile app is necessary. A fundamental rule in designing mobile apps is, display only the relevant information. Don’t burden user with too much information which he may not need.

Smooth Transition between Screens

One of the core features in mobile design is screen transitions. Mobile content navigation through different screens is a big part of user experience. Proper transitions/animations can communicate many features subtly. Reinforce user action by utilizing animations, this is an excellent way to motivate user for CTAs on the screen.

Given above are just few common practices for designing user-friendly mobile applications. Before market launch of an application, ask yourself some real questions such as ‘what is this app meant for?’, ‘Is there truly a user need?’, ‘how this app will solve user problem?’

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Email Marketing: Top 9 Hacks to Improve Your Click Through Rates

Are your emails getting low click-through rates? Isn’t it more like a challenge to get people to open and read your emails? It doesn’t need to be that hard. You are about to learn how to get your emails opened, read and clicked.

Email marketing has the highest ROI in comparison to other marketing methods. Also, ROI is like one of the benchmark analytics which tells us the success rate of our email campaigns.

According to email marketing gold, for every $1 dollar spent, there is 40$ return on investment. Yes, that’s a big number.

Just answer this question.

Which one of the emails would you open, a corporate email or an email from a friend?

Easy to pick, isn’t it?

Problem is, when you’re emailing to a list of people, you think you’re addressing to a huge crowd or act like massive corporate marketing department.

Your subscribers will look forward to your emails when you start behaving like a friend.

Why? Because people trust their friends.

Tone down your corporate tone and be realistic and minimalist in your design approach.

 

Some tips which could help in better crafting your emails are:

1-Don’t address to subscribers, rather make it personal. Write your email as If you’re talking to one particular person.

2-Never waste your customer time, if you don’t have anything of value to say, no need to roll out an email.

3-Use actual name and address, when you add your real name and address, it not only gives personal feel but also puts your reputation at stake. That’s how you build trust.

4-Give reward for reading, make your emails useful as they can add value. A useful tip or solving a user’s pain point is good.

5-Add CTAs (call to actions), but that doesn’t mean to add 10-20 links in an email. Add sensibly 2-3 are fine. Give user a direction to perform.

6-Use power words in the subject line, though adjectives may give a spammy look but they attract emotions of a user to click and read.

7-Keep your emails short, lengthy emails often drop interest of the reader and he may not scroll down to read it completely. Make it short, crisp and purpose oriented.

8-Avoid automating greetings part, personalizing greetings every time you send an email makes it look less robotic.

9-Use ‘you’ word, do you know it is one of the most persuasive words in the English dictionary....

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3 Key Reasons to Have Proactive IT Monitoring System

To proactively manage the clients' network is a big challenge especially for companies offering the services on hourly-billing rates.

Small business owners are at greater risk because they have budget constraints and their data is more like a lifeline. They want the most out of the network and neglect monitoring and maintenance part.

A proactive maintenance plan may include, server event logs maintenance, AV updates and security, firewall activity, hack/spam relay attempts and more. The monitoring is 24x7 and throughout the year, if any unusual activity or event occurs, an email or SMS alert has been sent to the client.

Our remote monitoring and management plan encircles all of the monitoring and maintenance tasks. The benefits our clients get are numerous.

1- Productivity and performance improvement

IT system management and monitoring are not just about the current status or performance but also about identifying improvement areas. That means a system can be restructured in the best possible way through continuous updates. A system starts displaying warning signs before they become critical and difficult to handle. Unmonitored backup system, or unattended antivirus update for weeks or hardware issues, etc. they all could be covered fully with system management and monitoring services.

2- Downtime reduction, little to no business loss

Downtime is worst because it not only affects the end user experience but the reliability factor. Just because your system network is up and working doesn’t mean it is working fine rather it may have issues which may show up in the future. Monitoring systems and apps are as vital as testing your other applications. Try to carry out your tests on different thresholds. A proactive approach of handling system monitoring ensures that the probability of downtime reduces to a minimum.

3- Data-driven insights

System monitoring makes sure how your company’s IT infrastructure is working and also helps in shaping out an overall strategy for handling different processes. Point is, your services should deliver optimum performance. You might not know how a normal IT infrastructure will work like if you don’t monitor. Be able to demonstrate how your IT overall system is working and what should be done to reduce the potential risks at hand.

Hence, a proactive system analysis offers a better chance of preventing major disasters. Regular health checks and evaluation of failure patterns, let you identify any discrepancies in the current system.

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Top 7 User Friendly Features a Website Must Have

Put the ‘customer-first’ approach beyond your services and products to gain trust.

While building a website, consider setting that up as a newsletter. Important elements will go ‘above the fold’ and the less important will go ‘below the fold’.

But, there should be a strong call to action in order to let customers get to you easily.

Mainly, a website does three things:

1- It drives customers

2- It gets customers to stay

3- It converts customers

To achieve these three goals, you have to think of customers’ lifecycle and psyche.

Small business takes pride in having their own flavor and personality. However, experts suggest every business should ‘tell a story online’ through a web design. Do share what your company does and about the team.

Let’s see what a website must have which a customer actually wants to see.

1- Unique Selling Point (USP) of a company

How your company is unique from the rest of the market is what justifies your company’s USP. Don’t exaggerate or lie when sharing about company’s bio. Expertise, number of years, attributes of a team should be added in the bio, as they may themselves separate company from the rest in the industry. A user needs to know USP before he makes up his mind to buy.

2- Clarity and consistency

A website should make a clear sense of what it’s offering. Most of the times, even high-end websites fail to inform users what their main products are and what they are offering in short span of users’ visit.

Many service-oriented companies clutter information on a homepage for competitive reasons. Bring forth consistency and flow by linking up your products and services to your homepage.

3- Contact information

Companies put vague physical locations which makes its customers think if the company is authentic and trustworthy. This is a small step but it helps in developing credibility.

A phone number, physical address, and few building photos are quick yet easy ways to gain customer’s trust.

4- 3rd party validations, not just testimonials

Add client testimonials, rewards and recognition, case studies, any publication clippings etc. are part of third-party validations. Potentials customers want to know who you do business with and what skillset your team has. Do list your clients on your website.

5- SSL Security System

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is an encryption system which offers protection for the exchanged data privacy between two parties (be it a customer and a website).

If you have an e-commerce website, a customer wants to make sure if their personal data (credit card information) is secure.

6- Ease of navigation, clear call to actions

If your traffic can’t find a way to a product from your website, how could they buy from it? Keep your website crisp, clean and easy to navigate. Site owners must study user buying patterns and lifecycle.

Customers can act only if they see buttons of call to actions. ‘Buy Now’, ‘Sign Up’, ‘Read More’ etc. are clear indications for customers to take action.

7- Feedback

Encourage your customer to share feedback about the products and services you are selling, the ordering process, customer service. This will help you to refine your process flows. Even you might get some good stories or blogs to feature on your website....

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AI automation tools for design and admin tasks, some handy tips

Automate and expand your workforce through artificial intelligence smart tools. AI is no more a buzz word but offers practical implication for a business.

Elon Musk, Mark Zukerberg, Jeff Dean, Amit Singhal, Ginni Rometty, and more are already implementing AI in their processes to make them more efficient. They are busy discussing the future of AI prospects but the fact of the matter is, we are using artificial intelligence and machine learning applications in one way or another while we’re online.

How AI automation works?

AI takes large data sets and learns the patterns with time.

There are two categories: supervised and unsupervised AI learning.

In supervised AI learning, human interference is involved as machines see given images and they learn patterns. In unsupervised AI learning, machines are fed with large data sets and they have to figure out the patterns.

We have jotted down some of the AI tools which could be of help for design and administration departments of any business.

1- The Grid, Wix, and Firedrop for Design

The Grid, a famous Kickstarter offers better control and gives full suite with little input of the user. AI named Molly will offer five color palettes in 200,000 different variations.

‘AI websites that design themselves’ is the tagline from their crowdfunding campaign 2014 and it gained popularity.

Firedrop on the contrarily is easy and asks some questions in order to design suitable pattern which fits your business needs. It is in the form of ‘Sacha’, a chatbot which gives user a walkthrough related to website building process.

After Sacha asks questions, it recommends and suggests few options to pick from. Initially, it was used as a design and drop website builder when launched in March 2015. But, Firedrop has evolved into a complete AI design tool for a website.

Wix, a website building tool with AI capabilities. Give it all the content you have and it can provide billions of design options, as said by Nitzan Achsaf, the head of Wix ADI.

Pick any of the options you like and the tool will do all the formatting. However, you can customize changes in UX elements.

2- Tamr, Textio, Intraspexion for administration

Tamar is a helpful tool for data integration and in its core, it solves problems related to data curation. It is a data unification platform where data curation processes don’t work in silos.

Textio uses predictive artificial intelligence technology to let companies list their jobs in an improved manner. It gives real-time guidance on how to improve the hiring.

Introspection, to not let potential litigation happen, this tool is an early warning setup which is based on the deep learning concept.

Though, given are just few AI tools, there are hundreds out there in the market. However, the above mentioned are useful in handling design and management related tasks.

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How to integrate machine learning models into small business?

Small businesses are always open to new opportunities which could give them a leverage in one way or another.

SaaS products, cloud for data storage and sharing, and self-driven digital marketing are the ways small businesses tend to opt because they consume less of a money and offer bigger profit margins.

Machine learning potential is the new thing small and medium companies are eyeing to tab the potential. One sure thing is the automation of workflows and second, data-driven information enables business executives to make better decisions.

What factors are making it easy for small businesses to integrate ML applications?

Machine learning algorithms and pre-trained machine learning models are the two main factors helping small businesses to easily integrate machine learning applications.

What is machine learning?

Before getting into details of how SMBs can seek advantage of machine learning applications, it is important to understand what is machine learning? It’s an AI’s application, having the ability to learn and improve experiences without being programmed by humans.

ML has an emphasis on the development of computer programs with the accessibility of related data which it uses to learn.

Now, get back to how small business can integrate machine learning.

ML Algorithms, Yet to Be Trained

To train ML model, a developer feeds data through algorithm and later uses trained or fed model with new data set. Do you know open source ML algorithms are driving factor for small businesses to extract maximum benefit?

Scikit-learn and Apache Mahout are some popular open source ML tools. They are industry tried and implemented with many algorithms which can handle different problems.

Now comes some constraints, you must have labeled and a good amount of data which needs to be trained through ML model.

Small businesses have hundreds of data points and lot more of first-hand data, sufficient enough to get trained. Through this data, you can get ML solutions like predicting churn rate, etc.

Pre-trained ML Models

Being a small business owner, you might think of first option to be the harder one. Then, there is the second and the easy to handle option, pre-trained machine learning models.

In this model, computation time and data requirement are key concerns. Large cloud vendors are providing pre-trained models as a service. Example, Amazon model which is being used in Alexa is also available at AWS platform.

Small companies trying to achieve the computation time thing through cloud platforms but they failed on the data side. However, with the provided solution, small companies can optimize their workflows just like large companies are doing.

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Managed backups, what services my business need?

Hacks and data breaches have become big concern for organizations. Data loss caused by system crashes and natural disasters is also linked to the system management risks a business should think of.

The only preventive measure is managed backup.

Traditionally, physical hardware is being used for data storage and backup but more and more businesses are shifting towards cloud managed backup services.

Businesses are digital and fast passed, remote access is the key benefit of having cloud managed backup as a user can access his or her data quickly and easily.

Plus, data in managed backup stores at multiple locations and minimizes the possibility for the owner to lose it.

Cut down IT expenditure costs as cloud option doesn’t require data storage on any physical hardware. Large companies though have bigger systems but this couldn’t be easy for small to medium size companies.

Small or medium organizations can save big by not investing in expensive backup services, but it totally depends on the sensitivity, variety and volume of data required to be backed up.

Let's list down what companies should consider before asking for backup service.

1- Determine cloud model

First know different cloud models to determine what type of cloud service your business need.

Public cloud: Offsite data storage center offers flexibility and scalability for a business.

Private cloud: Company builds its own data center to handle all sensitive information.

Hybrid cloud: Mixes up two cloud models, one public and one private.

The type business choose will ultimately affect the backup and the recovery solution.

2- Cloud backup implementation

Implementation of every cloud backup is different and involves varying steps. For strategic revenue generation and seamless integration, it is much advised to go for expert managed backup service providers.

Service providers will guide throughout the implementation process and also offers dedicated support.

3- Data recovery and the cloud model operation

Data recovery for each cloud model is unique. Do understand ‘Recovery Time Objectives’ and ‘Recovery Point Objectives’. RTO evaluates how quickly a business needs data recovery and it could be measured in number of hours or days. RPO tells us that how much data a company affords to lose, again measured in number of hours.

Bear this in your strategy that RTO and RPO work differently for varying data types. Companies should calculate their risk tolerance and business continuity before moving to RTO and RPO.

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What should a PHP developer do to become a good programmer?

In one of the recent surveys, it has been found that nearly 20 million web domains use php. Facebook, Wikipedia, Baidu, Weibo, WordPress, Drupal, etc. are on php. This shows that php is not an only most in-demand backend server-side programming language but it’s popular too.

Let’s sail through some of the tips for php developer if he or she wants to become a good web developer.

Php core functions and classes

If you are trying to perform some common function, then there are fair chances that you could find php function or class which is already existing in the php manual. Check out php.net/manual/en/ before putting your effort to develop common functions.

Single useful file with all necessary settings

Don’t scatter your database connection settings, rather create a configuration file or can say master file which would consist of all the settings. Add that in your php scripts. Later, for any changes, having one single file will feel like a blessing. Using constants and functions throughout multiple scripts is another advantage of having one master file.

Sanitize database inputs for protection

You should have a clear picture of what SQL injections are because if you are not sanitizing your data inputs in a database, it would cause a problem in future. Also, get to know the popular ways of compromising a web application before doing the solution. Cross-site scripting attacks could also be prevented through SQL injection and htmlspecialchars when you’ll be rending html.

Keep the error reporting on while development

Php White Screen of Death may tell you that there is something wrong but will never lead you to the real cause. While in the development stage of a web application, keep the error_reporting and error_display on. It helps in curing the runtime errors whenever they come.

Commenting on a code is a good practice

Documentation of a code needs proper commenting as it is considered to be the good practice. Don’t forget to comment the complicated code parts so when you return to the development after some time, you remember.

Be part of the php developers’ community

Even if you think you know all, there are chances that you don’t. There are thousands of ways to perform a php function and you may be missing out the easiest one. Join php developers’ community in order to know current practices and trends being followed.

Believe it or not, you’ll learn new ways of doing things which you may be missing currently.

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Future of sales is in the hands of chatbots!

Cognitive abilities of the machines have made them smarter even than humans. Humans always wished to run their manual or repetitive errands with machines, thanks to chatbots innovation.

Sales department of companies has been revolutionized with marketing bots. Increase in revenues, customer interaction and accuracy has improved performance of sales teams.

A chatbot is a software which is developed with a purpose to understand and do natural language processing. Just feed any question and you’ll get an instant response.

For instance, as a user, you ask for a certain product. It will not only share the best choices but also other related products. If I’m looking for a gym tracksuit, it may also provide options for shoes.

This is one use case and there are tons of others, shows us that chatbots hold infinite possibilities for businesses. Let’s list and concise few points.

How can sales be improved with chatbots?

Salesperson is an interface between a company’s product and the end-user. In other words, a face of the company and they tend to stay in inevitable pressure on daily basis.

Chatbots brings service consistency and accuracy

Chatbots handle and process data with precision which humans are prone to lose while doing repetitive tasks. Moreover, humans have emotions and they tend to ‘react’ in different scenarios. Bots, on the other hand, keep calm and neutral in all possible scenarios. We can say, chatbot is also a business intelligence tool.

Handles multiple queries, it’s easy to mature leads

Unlike humans, bots can handle multiple similar queries at the same time. This not only saves time but human effort too. Customers used to ask the basic questions time and again. If they start becoming more and more specific, a bot can redirect them to the sales lead. Thus, maturing leads have become easy.

24/7 helpdesk for consumer services

Chatbots are replacing the concept of traditional helpdesks. Key metrics could be fed to the chatbot based on natural language human questions which they tend to ask usually.

Automate transactions for users

Messaging platforms can now be integrated with different payment methods and this is helping customers to do transactions with relative ease. In short, it shortens the sales process and is less of a headache for a customer to go through the entire sale process.

Access performance, for surveys and feedback

Bots could be used for accessing individual performance. They used to extract reports and thus the performance of a salesperson can easily be evaluated, quarterly or yearly.

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Supply chain management and blockchain

Do you need blockchain in supply chain business?

Probably, you will be asking this question because of two reasons. First, you don’t know what is blockchain. Second, you’re considering this new technology due to the hype it has generated over the last few years.

Blockchain is decentralized ledger where transactions or virtual entities could be recorded. This ledger can’t be corrupted as it’s a secure place to do financial transactions or go about digital identities.

In supply chain management, blockchain could be used for keeping transparency and tracking of goods/products, easy and quick.

Why is this technology of interest? Customers now want more transparency and the traditional supply chain processes are complex and expensive to run. Blockchain is not only fast but offers an inexpensive way to keep the trust of the customers intact.

Accurate end-to-end tracking

Each block in the network is time-stamped and is processed in real time. It’s a complete cycle and not just a random procedure, unlike many supply chain companies follow and face loopholes' loss.

Digitize physical assets

Blockchain has made it possible to digitize physical assets. It creates records which stay safe in the form of a block. A block once generated goes for verification through a network of users who are part of the chained process. Once verified through ‘proof of concept’ the data will be stored.

Reduces paperwork & saves cost on administrative tasks

Supply chain management is complex because of a lot of paperwork involve and the administrative tasks. Such things make traditional processes slow and expensive.

High-value goods could be prevented from scams/frauds

Counterfeit products like diamonds and pharmaceutical drugs etc. are high-value goods and prone to fraud. In order to improve transparency of the products, blockchain could be of great help. According to research, around $450 billion counterfeit products are traded each year. Blockchain is a rescuer.

Cut costs on outsourcing contracts

Blockchain relies on smart contracts where there is no third party or escrow company is involved. Hence, making the contracts much more efficient. Blockchain offers all parties the same level of information access.

Challenges - to implement a blockchain solution with smart contracts, proof of concept and digital identities, a willingness of all stakeholders is required. They should be clear of the blockchain concept and how it will be going to work in their supply chain management business.

One thing is for sure, blockchain can lead to more collaborative supply chain ecosystems.

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