This article originally appeared in the August issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
How much experience do you have? Yes, I’m talking to you, sir. It’s your experience that matters.
It’s not a new concept, by any stretch. In fact, the user experience has been driving technology innovation for ages. You’ve seen it in gaming, from Atari’s Adventure game to BioWare’s Dragon Age, from Ultima on the Apple (News - Alert) II to World of Warcraft. You’ve seen it in movies, from Star Wars: A New Hope to Revenge of the Sith (not to mention all the 3D animated films that have been released over the past two years). You’ve seen it in mobile phones, from the Motorola DynaTac to today’s smartphones from Samsung (News - Alert) and HTC. And you’ve seen it in operating systems, from the 30-year-old MS-DOS to iOS 4 and Android 3.2.
In all areas of technology, the incremental changes we witness are a function of driving an enhanced user experience (well, with the underlying drive for driving increased revenue, as well, of course). But, in order to make money, you’ve got to create an enticing and memorable user experience.
It’s why Facebook has more than three-quarters of a billion users. It’s why Twitter hosts more than 50 million tweets per day. And it’s why Google+ may have a chance to eventually overtake both of them – it boasts many of the best features of each. It’s also why HTML5 isn’t a short-term fad.
Initially, though I always believed it would change Web development for the better, I wasn’t entirely convinced it would have the clout many predicted. After a conversation with TMC CEO Rich Tehrani, who quickly showed me the Financial Times HTML5-based Web app, and after listening to Terry Ribb, co-founder and CMO of Relevens, at the recent DevCon5 conference, I decided to give it some more thought.
Ribb explained that we are entering a new era of the Web experience. Where Web 2.0 was about merely downsizing content for mobile devices, Web 3.0 is about increasing content, but doing so in a personalized manner.
“Today’s Web 3.0 leaders are designing mobile life experiences and asking, ‘How do I fit within the user’s mobile life?’” she says. As for the users, they are demanding, ““Give me what I want, where I am, how I want it, right now.”
According to Ribb, the most innovative brands go beyond their traditional businesses as product vendors, but see themselves as offering a service to their mobile customers, allowing them to easily determine what content they receive.
“Innovators – I call them mobile brands – have stopped pushing and are pulling what the client wants and are delivering on those demands,” she adds.
She’s not wrong, and she also notes that the experience, though moving heavily into the mobile environment, must be able to cross environments, creating the same, personalized user experience across all platforms and devices.
Take Facebook, for instance. It has created a desktop social experience that even Google will find hard to beat. Because of that experience, it has also built an almost unimaginable need to enable Facebook sharing from any website with designs on succeeding. The same goes for Twitter. And soon Google+. Where Facebook fell short was with its mobile experience. It’s iOS and Android (News - Alert) apps don’t come close to delivering the same, intuitive, functional experience. But, its HTML5-based mobile site (m.facebook.com) comes much closer to capturing the original desktop experience. All you have to do is replace your app with a bookmark to the mobile site.
Also take a look at the new mobile site from ESPN (News - Alert) (m.espn.go.com). In addition to actually providing cleaner navigation than its desktop site, its videos are also now viewable by iOS users. Sports fans should also check out Sport Illustrated Snapshot, available in Google’s Chrome Web Store. It delivers an as-of-yet-unparalleled interactive, customizable experience.
But, it all goes back to Ribb’s comparison between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0.
“As a business, you have to provide access to all of your brand’s resources,” she says. “And you have to deliver a true, interactive, one-on-one experience.”
We’ve only begun to witness the power HTML5 developers can wield but, if these early examples are any indication, our Web experience is about to take a sharp turn towards becoming an extension of our individual personalities. Sit back and enjoy and new world of Web apps.
Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page. Follow Erik on Twitter @elinask.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi