Associations on the Go #tech10


Due to a conference call I unfortunately came into this session a little late, but here’s what I’m walking away with.

Associations On the Go with Peter Hutchins & Amy Hissrich of ASAE

The trend is moving that people want easy to carry devices where they can access large amounts of data. So what does this mean for  associations?

ASAE is hedging on HTML5. Peter brings up that some browsers adopt different tags at different rates. I’d add that there are even developers out there creating mobile browsers that are not standard. I use one on my Android phone because it’s faster than the native browser. Also there are browsers like Skyfire that try to infuse the social web into your browsing experience.

ASAE also tries to be a leader in these technologies so that we have experience with them before they surface in your own association. My opinion is that this is admirable, though difficult since ASAE members have a huge range with regards to their technology skills.

ASAE acknowledges that on their new site, the mobile experience for iPhone users is less than ideal. They’re focused on trying to create something better, especially as the adoption rates skyrocket.

Testing around events is easier. The events are a petri dish for the larger strategy.

Why do people use mobile?
1. So I can stay in touch easier with people
2. I have easy access to information online
3. I can share or post content online
(source: Pew Internet & American Life Project Survey, April 2009.)

10 Tips for building a mobile site:

1. Keep it simple & focused
2. Optimize images – use sparingly
3. Detect & redirect to mobile site
4. Use correct markup
5. No Flash
6. Research screen sizes
7. Link to full version
8. SEO – fewer words
9. Support customization/personalization where applicable
10. Test early & often

Have a strong Point of View on what is priority in the mobile experience, this will help you adjust for multiple acreen sizes (thanks Android!). The idea is that your user should not have to scroll across to see the content.

Three tools to test your mobile experience:
ready.mobie (Also gives you a grade)

Your applications and sites are compared to all the other applications & sites. How can you create the rich experience that people expect. People bring their expectations from other apps to your application as well.

640 pixels has 15 examples of great mobile sites

Thinking that the mobile site will give everyone everything they need is missing forethought, link to the full site just in case they can’t find what they are looking for.

Conference Hubs – integrating the social experience into the mobile web experience. The 3 digit hashtag extension used helps ASAE aggregate the information and knowledge from the individual sessions.

Apps are device specific, you can also leverage device specific functionality. Note from me: Let’s all please call the OS Android and stop referring to it as Droid. That is a specific device. #kthxbai

Most applications are in Java, C or Objective C. Some rudimentary app development is in JQuery.

Most popular types of apps: Games, News/Weather, Maps/Navigation/etc., Social Networking, Music…
(Nielsen App Playbook, December 2009.)

Within the mobile devices, the functionality that people are looking for varies differently. It’s about knowing your marketplace and tailoring the functionality to that experience.

Big question lingering under the surface: Is your app valuable enough to charge?

If you’re going to charge, it better do something. Even if it’s 99 cents, your individuals

Factors for consideration:
– Are you going to charge for it?
– What’s the purpose?
– What’s the benefit? (they said members, but I say your entire profession/trade)
– Are you using a product that have a mobile app version?
Will you app be members only?
Is there a role for video?
Are you ready for public reviews?

AHA CPR Application – A victim of the Haiti earthquake use the app to actually himself while trapped under the rubble with him. (WOW…)

Something I noticed: CES is using the same company that ASAE has done for their mobile apps. (Personal opinion on the mobile app experience for Android coming soon on this blog…)

Sweb Apps, Build and App, Kanchoo, App Maker are off-the-shelf options, though Amy warns that there are many dangers in going this route.

SMS is a different experience than the mobile web. My personal opinion, which I believe Peter echoed, SMS needs to be about urgent need-to-know information from the point of view of that receiving the info. What you deem important and need-to-know may not be what members or attendees think is important.

Location services – consider that you might need to have a presence within these location services. ASAE Technology Conference location has tips about where to charge up, where the coatcheck is, etc.

Measurement: downloads/updates (generic, won’t tell you if someone USED it), purchases, app ratings, mobile giving volume

My idea: Use QR codes to drive individuals on site at events to download the app or direct them to the mobile web.

Feedback they are hearing is that people do not understand the difference between mobile web & applications (“a ha” moment for me!), so you really need to be strategic about what you’re doing.

End thoughts: This is a new marketplace, things are evolving, everything is still new.

Additional reading:

Lindy Dreyer – Mobile apps are a waste of time for associations.
Jeff De Cagna – Mobile apps are NOT a waste of time for associations.

P.S. Plug for a friend of mine. She is an independent iPhone developer, so if you are looking to develop an app, I’m happy to pass her contact info along.


2 Responses to “Associations on the Go #tech10”

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