Improving your backend experience on Drupal

For one of my projects I’m actively working on at the moment, I spend a lot of time on the backend of a drupal website.  I often find myself looking for ways to make the backend processes more efficient, looking for good modules or ways to make the drupal website faster.  A few days ago, I came across a presentation given at the Drupalcon in Portland last year.  The speaker provides many useful tips on making the drupal backend experience better and I thought it was very helpful for me at least.  I highly recommend this presentation to those that manage drupal websites.

Download: Secrets to Awesomizing® Your Editor’s Back-end Drupal Experience

Original page: link

Have fun!

2014 US Digital Future in Focus

comScore has recently published 2014 US Digital Future in Focus.  The report examines how today’s digital media landscape has changed over the past few years and where it’s headed in the future.

Some of the key findings in the report are as following:

Multi-platform users on rise

For the first time ever, the multi-platform users, those using desktop, smartphone, and tablet, constituted majority among digital media consumers.  In the beginning of 2013, this group represented 48%.  By the end, it was 56%.  This presents challenges for publishers as they attempt to engage consumers on different platforms.  As wearable devices such as Google Glass gain some traction, the digital media landscape will be more fragmented.

Smartphone entering ‘late majority’ phase

With smartphone penetration reaching 65% of US mobile users, the smartphone adoption is entering the late majority phase of the technology adoption lifecycle.  On the other hand, tablet adoption is still in the early majority phase with 34% market penetration.  However, 83 million US mobile users still do not have a smartphone and 157 million do not own a tablet.

Mobile content driven by apps

Mobile apps accounted for 85% of internet time spent on mobile devices in 2013.

Cross-platform integration is the next era for ad measurement

Media companies and advertisers will benefits from having cross-platform integrated advertising strategy.  It will meet the needs of advertisers more efficiently and result in increased marketing ROI.  They can also reach out to the desired audiences with more optimal cross-platform allocations.

There are many more useful findings in the report and I highly recommend that you take a look.

You can download the report from here.

Millennial Moms are the America’s Most Digitally Connected Consumers

mom-tabletBabyCenter has released their latest report titled “2014 Millennial Mom Report”  The report looks at the millennial moms, referred to those moms born between 1980 and 2000, compares them to the Generation X moms, those born before 1980, and provides a lot of useful insights about this demographic for marketers.  This report, along with other resources I’ve come across including this and this, strongly indicates that this consumer group is probably the most digitally connected group in America with strong buying power, making it a valuable segment of population for marketers to target.

When it comes to time spent online, the millennial moms spent on average 4.3 hours per day compared to 3.6 hours for generation x moms.  This includes tablet, smartphone, and laptop.  An interesting trend is that the millennial moms spent more time on tablet and smartphone (2.2 hours)  than on laptop (2.1 hours).  For generation x moms, it was 1.6 and 2.0 hours respectively.

When it comes to looking up for information on mobile devices in a month or less, the millennial moms reported following:

  • 76% said they looked up a recipe
  • 76% said they searched for parenting advice
  • 69% said they managed finances/paid bills
  • 64% said they made a purchase

When it comes to using social media, taking/sharing photos, listening to music and watching movies online, the millennial moms were clearly ahead of the generation x moms.

This one is interesting.  The question asked was if a mom has used the social and mobile platforms to pursue a new business idea or to make a supplement income.  We’re talking about sites like Etsy, TaskRabbit where users can sell items they made or get paid for running errands.  The millennial moms were clearly ahead of the generation x moms in embracing this new activity:

  • Started selling items I made using social media: millennial moms 39%, generation x moms 24%
  • Started a business; promoted through social media: millennial moms 37%, generation x moms 27%
  • Got paid for running errands: millennial moms 15%, generation x moms 9%

It’s evident that, for busy moms, there’s no better place than mobile devices in staying connected with family and friends, searching for parenting advice, and shopping online.  Just looking at my wife, she is constantly chatting with other moms using KakaoTalk (Korean equivalent of WhatsApp), sharing news and information about raising kids.  This is definitely a consumer group that has a potential to make greater influence and should be watched closely to identify market trends and opportunities.

Rise in mobile referrals highlights need for mobile optimization

According to this blog post by Shareaholic, more than half of Facebook referrals came from mobile devices.  Facebook referral has long been used by marketers to drive traffic to their sites.  With acquisition of WhatsApp and a focus on international reach, Facebook will continue to be a favorite marketing platform for marketers in the years to come.  The mobile referrals, now at 51% of all Facebook referrals, will continue to rise as well.

What this really means for businesses is that their sites should be optimized for mobile devices.  If not, they will lose out on this opportunity to drive traffic to their sites from Facebook mobile referrals as well as Google mobile searches.  Now is the time for businesses to make some investment in realizing mobile optimization and providing the best mobile user experiences.

Facebook-Mobile-Referrals-Report-February-2014-chart

Time Spent on Mobile Tops Media

According to a report by eMarketer, US consumers now spend more time on mobile devices than on desktop and laptop combined.  When looking at the total time spent on media for 18+ adults in the US, the Digital (mobile, desktop, laptop combined) accounted for 43.6%.  TV, Radio, and Print accounted for 37.4%, 11.9%, and 4.5% respectively.

Breaking down the Digital further, mobile accounted for 19.4% whereas desktop (and laptop combined) accounted for 19.2%.  2013 was the first year where mobile overtook desktop.

The time spent on mobile has been increasing on average 77% from 2010 to 2013: 3.6% in 2010, 7.1% in 2011, 13.4% in 2012, and 19.4% in 2013.

Share of Time Spent Per Day

For total of 12 hours spent on media in a day, US consumers now spend nearly 2.5 hours on mobile devices.

Now, out of those 2.5 hours spent on mobile, where do you think people spend most time on?  Obviously, it’s social media which accounted for 28.4% or  of those 2.5 hours.  Social media is followed by video with 12%.  I’d be curious to see where reading/writing email ranks along with social media and video.

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Simple Map Link – Drupal module

DCApp has a section for business directory much like Yelp. It provides information on local Korean businesses including phone number, address, website, description, photos, and user reviews. The site as well as each business listing is optimized for mobile devices using the Bootstrap theme so that users on mobile devices can easily get the information they need.  This includes ability to tap a phone number to call the business which is already taken care of by mobile browsers.  Another feature I wanted to provide to users was opening a map application such as Google Maps or Apple Maps when an address is tapped within mobile devices.  After doing some research and realizing that no such module exists on Drupal, I decided to create a module for it.

Simple Map Link is a Drupal module that turns an address in the text field into a clickable link that launches map applications such as Google Maps or Apple Maps.  On mobile devices, it launches native map applications.  The module is currently at the sandbox status on Drupal website.  You can use following command to create a git clone:

It’s a fairly small module and I don’t think it will turn into a full-blown community project unless more features are added.  With this being my first Drupal module, it took a couple of hours and I learned how hooks are used in Drupal.

Here is a screenshot of module in action.  The address highlighted in red in the first image is clickable and launches native Apple Maps application on iPhone. The same link will open Google Maps on Android phones.

 

Simple-Map-Link-Drupal-Module

DCApp for Android is released

DCApp for Android is finally released.  You can download it from Google Play.  For those that don’t know what DCApp is, it is an information exchange community for Koreans living in DC/MD/VA.  One of the main features of DCApp is coupons from Korean restaurants and businesses around here.  DCApp iPhone app has been developed to make it easy to use coupons.  The iPhone app has been out for a few months now and the Android app is finally released.  The main website (www.dcapp.org) is built with Drupal and interacts with DCApp iPhone app and Android app through REST API.

The Android app has minimal features for now: getting list of coupons from the site, displaying each coupon in image, and sharing the coupon URL link on KakaoTalk, a popular messaging app that almost all Koreans use.  The app also features basic caching mechanism in order to improve performance.

Initially, I considered using an HTML5 mobile app framework known as PhoneGap because I have never developed any Android applications before, not to mention never working with Java before.  However, after spending some time setting up a development environment (Eclipse, Java SDK, Android SDK, and Spring framework) and getting “hello world” up and running, it was fairly straightforward.  The only issue I had was reading and parsing XML since Drupal custom content types can be complex with many unnecessary elements and attributes.  It took me a lot of reading documentations and visiting stackexchange to finally figure everything out.

Although still early in the product roadmap, DCApp now complete with all four applications for each use case:

  • Web Portal – For desktop users who want to browse and post contents on DCApp fast and easy
  • Mobile Web – For users on the road who want to browse DCApp quickly from their smartphone
  • DCApp iPhone – For users on the road and with iPhone who want to use DCApp coupons (reading and posting other contents will be supported in the future)
  • DCApp Android – For users on the road and with Android phone who want to use DCApp coupons (reading and posting other contents will be supported in the future)

For any products that requires user interactions, I strongly recommend that all four of above use cases be supported in order to provide the best user experience.

Here are some screenshots from DCApp Android:

Responsive Design Meeting Recap

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I organize a monthly meeting called Reston & Herndon Web Development Group.  We had one this week and the topic was Responsive Design.  I’ve been meaning to have this meeting earlier but had difficulty finding a venue sponsor.  Arzo from The Buller Group was kind enough to provide space at her office.  Not only did they provided space, they also provided food & drinks.  If Arzo is ok and members of the group liked the location, I hope that we can continue using this location.

I shared with the group topics we can cover in 2014.  I’ve been trying to come up with a set of topics that are relevant to web development and will help web developers get better at what they do.  The topics are:

  • Model-View-Controller
  • Database
  • Ajax
  • Scalability
  • Performance
  • Usability
  • Testing
  • Security
  • Web Services
  • Content Management Systems

Following topics were also suggested from the group:

  • Javascript / NodeJS / Angular
  • Accessibility
  • Internet of All Things
  • Privacy
  • Web GIS
  • HTML5
  • Website Traffic Analytics
  • Augmented Reality

These are all great topics and I am going to work on organizing these topics and weaving them into meetings for 2014.

We did not have any presenter or speaker this time.  So at the suggestion of Dee, a member of our group, we watched a 15-minute video on responsive design to facilitate the discussion: Responsive Design vs. Mobile Websites Explained.  The follow-on discussion focused on what people thought of responsive design, pros and cons of having responsive website vs. dedicated mobile website, and how responsive design/mobile site can be further improved.  It was a great discussion and I hope everyone learned something from the meeting.

It was great to see familiar faces: Sean and Dee.  I also got to meet a couple of new folks: Justin, Terrance, Brad, Michael, and folks from The Buller Group.  There were a few people at the meeting that I did not get to meet/talk and I hope to talk to them next month: Abdul, David, Sam, Chandra, and one more person whose name escapes me.

Tech News Weekend Reading 11/10/12

Articles

Gartner: Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013 (link)

How Media Companies Can Think More Like Startups (link)

HTML5 Does Have a Mobile Future (link)

How We’re All Haunted By Feature Creep (link)

The Intrapreneur’s Playbook (link)

11 Gorgeous Examples of Responsive Design (link)

Reports

Sandvine – Global Internet Phenomena Report (link)
– This is a bi-yearly study on Internet traffic trends that’s usually pretty revealing.

Video Demos

Hub Spot Demo (link)
– Time to get a real sense of what Boston’s fastest growing company is all about.  Inbound Marketing 101.

 

source: Technews Condensed