Posted By Emily Nicholls Monday, October 8, 2012. No Comments
For those of you not in the “techno” loop, an API (or Application Programming Interface) is typically made available by a data provider. Website developments firms, such as my own, will then integrate with the API to extract 3rd party data. Data changes frequently and thus an API provides a means of keeping the content of a site current. Sometimes, however, no API is available. In such scenarios other methods must be employed to retrieve 3rd party data.
At bemoko, one of the many techniques we employ in the development of our mobile sites is termed as harvesting.
Harvesting is the process of accessing the pages of a 3rd party website and selecting (identifying) the data to be extracted (using XPath or CSS selectors). The harvesting process may either be real-time access of your web site, or a batch process that periodically gathers new content ready for the delivery of your web site.
At this point, many of you in the know will be shouting, “beware screenscraping” and will be warning those within earshot of the horrors thereof. These “horrors” insist that …“screenscraping is an ugly, ad-hoc, last-resort technique that is very likely to break on even minor changes to the format of the data being snooped.” – http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/S/screen-scraping.html
Some of our recent projects have seen bemoko triumph in the screen scraping arena. In our recent development of a cloud based mobile app we adopted a flexible approach to the data harvesting process. User account status was gleaned from an XML API for the purposes of verifying the login process. Further to this, concurrent share price information was extracted on a just-in-time basis from our recent client’s PC website, ensuring that on each page request the user was presented with the latest stock information for the purposes of securing their trade. The client chose not to expose an API to bemoko since they wanted to be free to change data provider at a later date. One key concern for both our client and bemoko was that of “harvesting robustness”. This phrase simply measures the ease by which a mobile site (or any site built by means of a harvesting process) breaks due to data selection failure as a direct result of PC site alterations. The approach taken by bemoko has initially been one of education and prevention.
bemoko’s initial approach has been to agree with our client as to the areas from which data will be scraped so that changes to such areas are not made without forethought as to the effect on the mobile site. Approaches, such as avoiding extremely specific data selection have also been adopted.
bemoko, as a leading UK mobile developer, are never content however to merely stand still, and work is soon to be underway for the infusion of highly advanced harvesting techniques into the bemokoLive platform.
One of our core philosophies at bemoko is to embed the best practices gleaned from real world experience into our technology platform: bemokoLive. This has proven to maximise the quality and speed of delivery of new mobile web initiatives and saves wasting significant time and money re-inventing the wheel.
The techniques to be fused focus on scraping directly into a client moulded API (CM-API), reflecting the individual client’s needs. The bemoko software may then readily screen scrape data from the client’s PC site (or any other site) into the CM-API. The client can now readily review the harvested API data to review whether changes to their PC site have had an adverse effect. This data exposure is of all round benefit, not just benefiting the client but facilitating a single data access point for other apps and whatever else may wish to integrate with the systems. Amazingly, this data consolidation exercise, facilitates the total abandonment of the PC site whilst still allowing the mobile site to function fully, the mobile site being dependent on the API and not on the PC site – all but eradicating any objection to screen scraping on the basis of breakage.
bemoko will continue to exceed expectations by introducing measures to identify harvesting areas within the site from which content is to be extracted. Changes to any content outside of a harvesting area would be guaranteed to not result in data access issues. Other procedures and processes will also be in place such as alerting clients and developers in the event of data collapse, facilitating a swift and immediate response. With such functionality soon to be in place within the bemokoLive platform, the speed and reliability at which such integration will be achievable will be unsurpassed. It’s just another example of where embedding our deep expertise into our technology platform delivers immediate and ongoing value to our clients.
Posted in: mobile
Posted By Emily Nicholls Monday, October 1, 2012. No Comments
I was at a mobile conference last week (yes another one!) and the speaker… a “leader” in mobile (yes another one!) asked the audience if anyone 5 years ago thought that mobile would be as big as it is today.
I was the only one in the audience to put up my hand. “really?” the speaker boomed over the microphone! Looking particularly annoyed as I had seemed to have completely ruined his presentation…”how can you justify that?” “well” I replied. “In 2007 I along with three other like minded mobile experts put a little over £1m of our own money into building a mobile platform that would deliver mobile web and cloud based apps to any and all mobile devices regardless of OS, screen size and network”
My point here is that if you are still evaluating if mobile is a good idea for your business then it might already be too late for you! The debate has moved on I’m afraid, it’s now not whether to do it but how to do it well – those that are doing mobile are using old techniques adopted from creative agencies still stuck in the dark ages of PC web and are gradually feeling the pain of cost, complexity and poorly performing mobile sites.
There is a repreave for anyone without a mobile site…skip the “early adopter” poor attempts and move straight into dynamic delivery using tools and software designed for mobile, this might just speed you through the process and might even leapfrog you past your competition.
Please feel free to share or comment
by Phillip Clement
Bemoko, mobile partner of Cable and Wireless attends Retail Week Technology Summit 25th-26th September 2012- London
Posted By Emily Nicholls Monday, September 24, 2012. No Comments
London 24th September – bemoko, the leading multi-channel optimisation specialist who in March this year was selected by Cable&Wireless Worldwide (C&WW) to deliver mobile and multichannel technology and expertise to form part of C&WW’s integrated communications solutions will be joining them for the two day Retail Week Summit on the 25th and 26th of September at the Victoria Park Plaza, London.
The two day event will bring together 250 European retail CIO’s, CTO’s and IT directors to learn, debate, and share best practice regarding latest technology solutions.
Bemoko will be available over the 2 day event to discuss how their software delivers fast, secure and highly resilient mobile and multi-channel solutions for retailers wanting to succeed in this fast moving environment.
Phillip Clement Sales and Marketing Director at bemoko commented “this event will allow us to showcase our partnership with Cable and Wireless and how the joint technology and expertise delivers unrivalled benefits for retailers adapting to the new multichannel landscape.
Bemoko creates an unrivalled mobile user experience from your existing web content – with the crucial operational simplicity needed to meet your business goals. bemoko allows you to quickly gain access to unbeatable performance across smart-phones, tablets, e-commerce, social media…and whatever comes next.
For more information, contact:
+44 844 264 0909
Posted in: mobile
Mobile has always thrived for applications where immediacy is paramount and retailers should not fall short of allowing the customer to complete their transaction whenever and wherever the customer may be. Waiting until the user is back at their PC may push your customer to connect with one of your competitors. Taking payments is not difficult, so let’s take a look at how you can take payment on your mobile web site and complete the customer’s journey.
Payment options at your disposal include:
- Online wallets
- Credit card – similar to what you might expect on a PC site
- Direct operator billing – payment taken of the customers bill
- Premium SMS (a.k.a PSMS) – SMS sent to customer that gets
Various on-line payment service providers, such as Bango, CellPoint Mobile, Braintree and PayPal provide hosted solutions that allow you to get up and running quickly for these different payment options. Note that service providers may not give you all of the 4 payment options above.
These hosted solutions work by taking the user to a payment page provided by the payment service provider so that payment can be taken. A typical flow for this is :-
- The user makes the product choices on your web site filling up their basket
- When the user is ready to purchase the products the user is directed the payment service provider page. This is typically by an HTML form that takes the user off your site, although you should be able to customise this page so that it looks like your brand. If you decide to take payment details on your site rather than redirecting, be sure you understand the PCI compliance rules that govern storing credit card data.
- When the payment has been confirmed a back-end callback can be made to your web site to confirm the purchase is OK and the user is taken to a thanks page on your side. The callback is necessary to reduce chances of unscrupulous users fooling your site into thinking that the payment has been received.
- Your site delivers a thank you page AND sends out email or SMS confirmation to the user that the order is on its way.
Note that the callback may occur in a couple of stages 1) payment has been authorised – i.e. funds reserved and 2) payment captured – i.e. funds transferred to your account. So do be ready to handle either of these signals – if you’re dealing time sensitive products, e.g. take away delivery, then you’ll want to put the order in motion as soon as the payment as been authorised. Otherwise you may want to hold off on putting the order in motion until you’ve had confirmation that the payment has been captured.
Do compare the commission that each of the service providers takes on each payment as this can vary significantly from one provider to another and from one payment option to another (e.g. credit card vs PSMS).
When it comes to 3D secure, the user experience has not yet been optimised for mobile, although it does work. If you choose to disable it then you may improve the user experience, but you will be taking the risk that payment is fraudulent since 3D secure does give you extra security for your payment.
As always – monitor your site. When you start taking payments, ensure that you monitor how much your site takes every hour and send out alerts if orders drop off during an hour. This can be an early warning signal that something is misfiring. If you are using a platform to deliver your site, such as bemokoLive, then these alerts and the monitoring come built in, making it much easier to ensure that every order gets fulfilled.
If you want to talk to us about how to start taking payments on your mobile web site and take use of some of our existing payment integrations modules then please get in touch, feel free to share or comment on this blog
Posted in: business, iphone, java, mcommerce, mobile, mobile design, mobile search, mobile technology, mobile UX, mobile web, multichannel, public website news, responsive design, smartphone, social, tablet, transactional, web optimisation
Posted By Emily Nicholls Thursday, September 13, 2012. No Comments
Responsive design certainly has it’s appeal, based upon if what you read is true that is ie: people spending more time on your site, content display etc… It initially looks like it is the panacea to solving the growing problem of delivering content to different devices.
What responsive design misses is that mobile users have different needs and context from someone using a 21″ desktop computer. Trying to squeeze a desktop site into a mobile sized site is not necessarily the most optimal experience –the Channel 4 site http://www.channel4.com/news/ as an example is over 2MB in size. Not only does this take a long time to download on a phone (over 2 minutes on a test I did), the phone then throws away half the content as isn’t displayed. To top it all, the site didn’t display properly on my Samsung S3 after I’d waited all that time. Setting something to display:none doesn’t mean it doesn’t get downloaded.
Adapting content based solely on screen size versus users needs overlooks usability issues and differences between touch and click based interfaces.
Responsive design definitely has its place, but if assuming the only difference between desktop and mobile is screen size is not a strong basis for building a lasting and long term mobile strategy that will enable your brand to thrive.
There are common misconceptions around responsive design that will ultimately undermine the capabilities and the power of mobile devices, so we appeal to you to think carefully about the savings you may gain at the start and think about 6-12months from now when changes, development and where you want to see your business and brands positioned.
If you recognise and harness the strengths of mobile and it’s platform and ensure that you design the User Experience, Navigation and develop for your customers/users then you will quite simply create something that’s not just good but outstanding.
Please feel free to share and follow us to read more about this and other topics around mobile web
Posted By Emily Nicholls Wednesday, August 22, 2012. No Comments
PIZZA HUT DELIVERY LAUNCHES MOBILE ORDERING
Pizza Hut Delivery has launched a new mobile version of its UK website to allow customers to easily place orders for delivery or collection from their mobile.
The site is a mobile-optimised version of the main Pizza Hut website. When a customer visits www.pizzahut.co.uk from a mobile device to order a delivery and enters their postcode, the site automatically appears in the format which best suits their screen.
The exciting new version of the site enables customers to pick the ‘Hut’ they want to order from, and gives them the ability to place future orders, see the latest deals and promotions and share their orders with their friends by linking directly to social media.
Mags Dixon, Chief Marketing Office for Pizza Hut , said “The customer experience is always a priority for us, so we’re delighted to be able to give people the opportunity to order online from any mobile device in such an innovative way. We’re giving our customers exactly what they told us they wanted, and we’re expecting a large proportion of our sales to now come from mobile.”
To build the site, Pizza Hut Delivery commissioned Bemoko, who gave the mobile optimised website all the functionality anyone would ever want, including click to call, a location map, a deals maker, the option to enter a voucher code into your basket, and the ability to make an order via Facebook Connect.
Phillip Clement, Sales and Marketing Director for Bemoko, said “Pizza Hut Delivery wanted the best user experience across the widest range of handsets with fast download times and full analytics. They wanted maximum flexibility and agility moving forward, but they also wanted it delivered fast.”
About Pizza Hut Delivery:
Pizza Hut Delivery opened its first UK store in 1988, and its first franchised store in 2011. There are now 300 Pizza Hut Delivery units across England, Scotland and Wales. Pizza Hut Delivery is a wholly owned subsidiary of YUM!, one of the world’s largest franchisors; around 76% of the 13,000 Pizza Huts around the world are franchise owned. Pizza Hut is one of the UK’s most popular social media brands, according to a SocialBakers 2012 report.
Bemoko creates an unrivalled mobile user experience from your existing web content – with the crucial operational simplicity needed to meet your business goals. Bemoko allows you to quickly gain access to unbeatable performance across smartphones, tablets, e-commerce, social media…and whatever comes next.
Posted in: business, facebook, fast food, iphone, mobile, mobile design, mobile search, mobile technology, mobile UX, mobile web, multichannel, PC website, pizza hut, press, public website news, retail, smartphone, social, tablet, transactional, web optimisation
Posted By Emily Nicholls Monday, August 13, 2012. No Comments
London – 13th August 2012 – bemoko, the leading multi-channel optimisation specialist today announced that it has completed the development of a mobile dealing site for retail stockbroker, The Share Centre.
bemoko were tasked with creating an optimised mobile website which takes existing information from The Share Centre’s desktop site and customises the content to appear on any mobile or tablet device.
A mobile dealing site was crucial to The Share Centre as the number of customers using their mobiles to deal is increasing. It was also important to ensure the company remain competitive in the current market.
The Share Centre wanted to allow access across a wide range of mobile devices rather than device specific apps. Working with bemoko and implementing a mobile web app meant they were able to achieve this goal and crucially ensure that the system was robust and secure enough to give customers confidence executing high value financial transactions via mobile.
Mat Diss, Managing Director at bemoko, commented: “creating a seamless website for mobile is our niche and we are extremely pleased with how we have developed the mobile UX with The Share Centre. It has a strong, clean and straight forward approach to it giving the customer the information they want in less clicks”
Guy Knight, Sales and Marketing Director at The Share Centre, said: “During busy dealing periods as much as 10% of customer deals come from mobile devices. We hope to see a significant increase in access and dealing via mobile now that we have optimised a site for this purpose. Working with bemoko has allowed us to provide our customers with a truly flexible online dealing experience via mobile. Customers can deal quickly, on the move, from any device. ”
Welcome to better mobile, Mobile is mainstream – your mobile web presence helps to define your brand.
bemoko creates an unrivalled mobile user experience from your existing web content – with the crucial operational simplicity needed to meet your business goals. bemoko allows you to quickly gain access to unbeatable performance across smartphones, tablets, e-commerce, social media…and whatever comes next.
For more information,
Contact: Emily Nicholls
Tele: 0844 2620909
Follow Me on:@bemoko
Posted By Ian Homer Monday, August 6, 2012. No Comments
Over the past 5 years bemoko has gone from strength to strength in the design, development and hosting of mobile web sites, continuously pushing the level quality from both a user experience side and an operational one. Over the next few months we will share some of our core best practices and hands on advice that provide the foundation for our delivery. This will cover aspects including:
- how to mobilise your PC site, even if you don’t have a content API
- making payments on mobile
- putting the right content in front of the user at the right time – don’t think of smaller screens as constraining the user experience
- delivering to other devices other than just mobile
- testing across the myriad of devices
- improving quality and success by observing your system and know what is and isn’t working
- performance testing and tuning – every fraction of a second counts if you want improve user satisfaction
- penetration testing and security
In the early days we started with the creation of whole host of simple sites, such as marketing micro sites, customer acquisition, conference programmes and on-line games. These provided a rock bed for our philosophy in how we design an optimised experience for the small screen as well as the 24×7 operational management of these sites. Over the past couple of years we have embraced several high profile transactional sites – ones where a slight tweak here or there can provide substantial returns. Simple steps such as configuring the system to alert administrators of change in metrics can help spot risks and preempt problems, can make the world of difference.
If you have any particular topics you’d like covered please get in touch and we’ll cover it in one of how to guides and give you tips that you can put into practice.
Posted in: mobile
Posted By Emily Nicholls Monday, July 9, 2012. No Comments
London – July 2012 – bemoko, the leading multi-channel optimisation specialist has launched its first mobile site this week using the highly anticipated “Internationalisation module” which allows mobile sites to be easily created in multiple languages.
The large global pharmaceutical client that has worked with bemoko for the last 12 months has advanced into other territories and needed existing sites in multiple languages in order to broaden audience reach and improve user experience.
bemoko have been delivering mobile web projects for brands for over 6 years and have seen a shift from clients simply wanting an App to requiring a fully optimised and personalised mobile websites and being able to produce these in various languages through the new module in bemoko has made this a quick and seamless process.
The internationalisation module is fully integrated in the bemokoLive web platform and gives web developers powerful tools for managing multiple languages across multi-channel web applications.
Mat Diss, Managing Director at bemoko commented “bemokoLive is constantly evolving to meet our clients needs. Our experienced UK development team, who all have at least 10 years’ experience in mobile, allows us to react to a client brief and deliver new features on time and we turned this multi language site around in 3 weeks”
bemoko is the leading multi-channel optimisation specialist, delivering Your Brand – Anywhere™ bemoko’s cutting- edge solution delivers your content across all devices from one site. One solution, any device.
For more information, contact:
Contact: Emily Nicholls
Tele: 0844 2620909
Follow Me on:@bemoko
Posted By Emily Nicholls Monday, June 25, 2012. No Comments
Macmillan Cancer Support knew their mobile audience needed a better user experience. Opening up a mobile channel would allow Macmillan to explore new, different and more direct, personalised and localised interactions with customers.
Macmillan work with bemoko to provide a future proof solution with the option to manage change to the site themselves or in association with bemoko. As time has moved on the audience for accessing content has rapidly grown and with the end user now feeling comfortable with viewing fully accessible information and then donating.
We have come to trust the smaller screen and the new generation of mobile users are adopting this method moving forward the charity sector with the donation generation who are switched on individuals who spend the majority of time online, social networking and being influenced by adverts, banners, friends, online forums to ensure they take the next step.
Macmillan have seen in the last 12 months an increase from 8% of traffic accessing their site from a mobile device to 30% (May 2012) which is well above the charity industry expectations. Additionally, the length of time now being spent on the site has risen so people are finding the relevant information, enjoying the experience and not shifting loyalty to a charity that it feels care as no one seems to be pioneering the digital space quite like Macmillan.
Taking all of these areas into account it seems that the logical step next would be to look at what else can be done to increase this traffic and how there is room for other charities to take the same path to the public and gain the affections of mobile and tablet device users.
We have learnt that with content heavy sites you can’t give the same experience for the PC so allowing selected information, content, images to be presented on the correct mobile device can only mean a repeat visit for your charity.
Slow loading pages of un-optimised content that need scrolling through, drop offs at the donation area are all common problems being experienced, if so then you need to ask yourself the following questions:
1. What is the strategy for mobile over the next 3 months?
2. Do you have the resources internally to get mobile?
3. Are options like cms templates or responsive design a full and future proof method of delivering mobile optimised sites
4. How will you ensure costs and development time don’t spiral out of control when new devices come onto the market
5. We are already rebuilding our PC website, but know we should be building for mobile first but not sure how or who to talk to
If these are all questions you have asked yourself in the last 12 weeks then it’s time to get in touch with us don’t you think?
Please feel free to comment and share our blog post, if you would like an additional information please get in contact with me: firstname.lastname@example.org