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recommended app of the week: LastPass

LastPass Logo

Continuing the App of the Week conversation, here is another app I couldn’t function without: LastPass.

Passwords are a real hassle. Generally, people fall into two camps:

  • Camp 1: You use the same secure password for every account, which increases your vulnerability should your password ever become compromised.
  • Camp 2: You use some customized form of the same password on each site, which over time, become impossible to remember.

LastPass helps fix all of this. This app installs into any browser and stores all your passwords for you. Now this isn’t anything special, because most browsers have built in password storage capabilities. Where LastPass really stands out is you can install this app on all your browsers across all your devices and then access your passwords from the same source. Plus, if you are on a public machine and need to retrieve a password, you can access your password vault through the LastPass website.

So what does this mean for you. No more generic password for everything, forgetting your password for that site you rarely visit, or storing passwords in unprotected areas (like contact lists) for bad guys to find. Simply download the app, set your master password, store your individual passwords and forget about it. Each time you visit a site that LastPass has your password for, it automatically populates your password for you. It’s as simple as that.

Remember, password protection is a very sensitive topic. One you have installed the app, pay close attention to your settings. Protect yourself by ensuring the LastPass settings have been optimized for your specific usage.

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Good Design Can Make the Everyday Better

Kudos to IKEA for this guerrilla marketing campaign that canvased the streets of Manhattan. We’re living in a time when good design matters to more people. Bad design is quickly dismissed or ignored… good design earns people’s respect and attention. Great concept and execution from IKEA. Empower good design.

recommended app of the week: Dropbox

Dropbox Logo

Apps are great, especially when they help to accomplish a task with ease and efficiency. Apps come in all shapes and sizes and run on any number of platforms: Mac, PC, Android, iPad, iPhone. I am especially fond of those that work across multiple platforms. There are a number of apps I use on a regular basis that are so good, I feel they must be shared. Over the next few weeks, I will unpack those that I like and use the most.

Though each of these apps perform a distinct function or serve a specific purpose, they all have common attributes.

  • Most are cross platform, which mean they will run on a variety of machines and devices.
  • All are very well done, performing their specific function with excellence.
  • Most important of all, they are all FREE.

One app I use every day is Dropbox. This tool is amazing. Dropbox is essentially a file storage/sharing app that allows you to save files to one location (computer, mobile device or web) and it automatically syncs that file across all of your other machines/devices. This is a must have app for anyone with multiple devices. Need to move a document from your computer to your mobile device, but want to make sure you don’t have multiple copies floating around, Dropbox does it without a hiccup.

The process is simple:

  • Sign up for a free account at Dropbox.com (you get 2GB of online storage, but can earn more by inviting your friends to join).
  • Install the small app on all your machines/devices.
  • Start adding documents and let Dropbox do it’s magic.

This little app is great and one I just had to share. Check it out, I think you will find it useful.

Understanding Mobile User Mindsets

Mashable.com recently had a post that explored the latest trends in mobile development and design. The post cited author Josh Clark’s conclusion that mobile user mindsets fall into three simple buckets:

Microtasking: Using the phone for short bursts of activity.
Local: Finding out what’s around the user.
Bored: Utilizing the phone for distraction/entertainment.

Can’t speak for all of you, but I think Josh nailed it. The challenge to all organizations desiring connection with mobile users is how your organization will become more relevant within these three mindset areas.

Ask yourself…is your organization mobile accessible and is your content and functionality efficient enough that it fits into the preferences and attention of mobile users? Corporate America is placing a high priority on engaging mobile users, what’s your plan?

How iPad and Tablet Devices are Changing Publication Readership

A recent post at Mashable.com spotlights publishing companies that are closely watching the success of iPads/tablets and digital readership. The article cites Wired magazine’s success story, keying in on the early adopter audience to the digital magazine concept. “The first issue of Wired on the iPad sold 105,000 copies, according to Ad Age. That was significantly higher than the print sales for the same issue. Since then, Wired for iPad has sold an average of 30,000 copies per month, or about 37% of the newsstand sales.”

Keep in mind the infancy of the iPad (a little over a year old) in relationship to the numbers above. This, along with phenomenal sales growth of the iPad and other tablet devices, should be a hint of what’s on the horizon: publication readership on these devices will continue to grow in popularity and preference.

How does this impact your communications strategy?

Reality: New digital devices continue to replace the need for print. Many have scaled back publication printing or are looking at the feasibility of doing so in the interests of cost savings. The challenge is to be aware of emerging trends driven by the iPad and the implications for how you need to communicate in the future. Look around and survey your constituents to check the pulse: how many have smartphones or iPads/tablets? How can you embrace the digital publication movement and make changes for iPad/tablet fans, and, consequently, save time and money? Will you be an early adopter to the developing digital revolution we are in?

How the iPhone and iPad Are Significantly Changing the Future of Your Web Experience

Apple iCons

The sales growth statistics of the iPhone and iPad are staggering:

+ iPad sales have reached over 19 million units in just 12 months.
+ iPhone sales for the first quarter of 2011 topped 18.7 million units.
+ iOS device (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch) sales are nearing 200 million.

Apple’s MO behind their iOS devices come down to this: Simple. Amazing. Revolutionary.

These relatively new devices are redefining the quality of experience and expectations we have in the web world. Consequently, Apple’s influence has significant implications on the current and future picture of your web site.

NO FLASH PLEASE. iPhone and iPad don’t process FLASH. Steve Jobs and the Apple team have made a strategic decision to omit FLASH applications for a number of reasons, spanning from highly technical reasoning to personal preferences. Whatever the actually reasoning for the FLASH departure, one thing is for sure, it impacts you and your website. If you have FLASH on your current site, you can count on iOS device users not getting the content they want and need, essentially cutting the communication line with this rapidly growing audience. Many web developers, including the DC team, are implementing iOS compliant solutions that still offer motion and animation, without the use of FLASH.

THEY WANT MORE. Mobile friendly web sites may suffice for the iPhone, but iPad users expect more than a light, mobile experience. Some organizations have countered the omission of FLASH from iOS by creating a simple, “Mobile Friendly” version of their web site. Though this may prove to be an option for the iPhone, the iPad’s function and user’s expectation are much higher. Because of it’s size, the iPad is capable and expected to display fully-functioning sites. Forcing a user to view a stripped down version of your site causes an immediate disconnect. Also, in many cases, the iPad is not just a peripheral to the notebook computer, but a replacement for it. The overall functions and use of the iPad has caused its users to simply expect more. Once again, we have to design and build web experiences that respect and embrace iPad audiences.

GOING HIGHER. One universal reality of the iPhone and iPad phenomenon is that Apple is creating richer, more interactive experiences for users. With the rapid rise in powerful and engaging experiences with websites and apps alike, users have significantly increased their expectations. Interactive content attracts users while less relevant, static content is likely to repel them. The iOS devices are empowering their users to find and do just about anything, many times with just a few touches. As communicators, we must respect this massive shift in user device preferences and design web experiences that match the iPhone and iPad user’s desires.

One constant for the foreseeable future: expect Apple to continue to lead the charge and the direction of devices and web trends.