Short-form Video’s Time To Shine

Short video is taking over the online world. It’s both beautiful and grim.

Everyday, online video is getting easier to access, and even easier to create. Because of apps like Vine and Instagram, videos are becoming one of the main reasons people even log onto the Internet. According to AdAge, over 40 million people are on Vine, while 150 million plus are on Instagram. That’s a lot of users.

Twitter and Facebook own Vine and Instagram respectively, and people are leaving the text-based social media for their quicker video counterparts. Pop culture has even seen these apps’ relevance. Trends, memes, slang, and even social groups have appeared from this medium. It’s truly marking its place in history, but why?

It’s because short video is both the fastest and the most alluring way to convey a message. If you manage to entertain your audience while telling them about your service or product, you’ve got a memorable and potentially viral advertisement on your hands. Major brands have been doing this for months now, be it the stop-motion animation of Dunkin Donuts’ paper flower or Trident Gum’s chewing-face close-ups!

That is where the beauty of accessibility to online video lies. Any person can make any video about anything. In fact, it is so easy that you could accidentally hit the record button while pulling your phone out of your pocket and make a short viral hit. It makes video accessible.

On the flip side though—it’s ruining our attention spans and giving us an unhealthy addiction to Internet’s speed. We’re becoming so accustomed to this short format, that anything over 30 seconds almost seems too long. People are clicking out of longer videos on YouTube, closing web pages that take too long to load, and going insane over buffering streaming content.
It’s hard to decide whether Vine and Instagram are helpful ways to communicate, or detrimental to our already short attention spans. Time will tell, as the number of users of these appsare predicted to grow even more in 2014.

7 Favorite Free Apps from 2013

With the New Year just beginning, I wanted to take the time to review my favorite apps that I used on my iPhone in 2013. I also have an aversion to paying for apps when there are so many great free ones out there, so all of the apps mentioned are available for free! Chances are that not all of them will appeal to you personally, but maybe this list will inspire you to try a new app that I have found particularly helpful over the past year. So, excluding major social media apps and not necessarily in order by favorite, my top free apps from 2013 include:

1. Waze

wazeI actually just began using Waze at the end of 2013 but it has been exceedingly useful in some scenarios. It offers free GPS navigation that automatically updates the best route for you to take depending on traffic patterns. It’s user-based, so you can actually see other people on the road that are using the app. Passengers will report cops sighted, vehicles on the shoulder, and other useful information that the app will then tell you to “watch out” for as you drive. All I know is, it took me 5 and a half hours to get to Virginia Beach from Baltimore when I wasn’t using the app, and only 3 hours and 45 minutes to return home when I did use it.

2. Viber

If you are ever travelling abroad, this is a must-have app. You can call and text anyone else that has Viber entirely for free, without having to worry about whatever international plan your service provider might offer. I used this many times over the year with my best friend who was in Thailand, and then I used it to contact people in the U.S. when I went to Thailand in April 2013 to visit her. You just need wifi to use it, so if you’re in a very remote area that doesn’t have wifi then it’s not going to be as useful.

3. WedPicswedpics

I helped to plan a wedding in May 2013 and did a lot of research on the best wedding apps. I decided that WedPics was definitely the way to go, where people attending a wedding can share all their camera phone pictures in one location. Then, the bride and groom can see and download all the photos at a later date. Some similar apps, like WeddingParty, had a more attractive design but didn’t function as well.

4. Michaels

Do you love crafting and roaming the aisles of Michaels? Then I hope you have this app. They constantly post coupons for 40 – 50% off one regular price item, and you can easily have them scan the mobile coupon at checkout. I have used this countless times over the past year.

5. Redbox

Is there a new movie coming out on Redbox that you’ve been anticipating for months? If you have the Redbox app, you can actually see which Redbox locations have the movie in stock, and even reserve it for yourself! Much more efficient than driving around to all the Redbox locations in town, hoping to find a newly released movie.

6. iHandy Level

Not so new, but always useful. This is probably one of the most practical apps I have on my phone. I have moved 7 times in the last year and half, and always whip out my iHandy Level to hang anything in a new apartment.

7. PadMapper

padmapperRemember how I said I’ve moved 7 times in the past year and a half? Well another app that helped me was the rental finder PadMapper. You can enter filters for what you’re looking for in a rental (price range, number of bedrooms, etc.). Then, PadMapper pulls from multiple websites that have rental listings online (including Craigslist) and shows you pinpoints on a map of ones that fit your requirements in the area you’re interested in. As a visual person, it really helped me to see all the available listings on a map that I could then click on and be taken to the original listing for more information.


Overall, if you’re not a 23 year old crafty girl that likes to travel and moves a lot, then this list might not wildly impress you. But, these are the apps that I held very near and dear to my heart in 2013 and hopefully one – or all – are something that you’d like to try, too!

- Katy (MOS Project Manager/Copywriter)


Starbucks and Square Partnership

America's largest coffee chain plans to invest $25 million into the mobile payment platform

Starbuck’s Corp. announced today that they will be using Square, Inc.’s technology as a payment method in 7,000 locations. The Starbuck’s partnership marks a groundbreaking moment as it becomes the first national chain to support the payment app and also brings with it a prediction of accelerated growth for Square (Market Day). Continue reading

Responsive Web Design for Beginners

Responsive Web Design ExampleAs web technology continues to evolve, so does the platform that we interact with it on. Now-a-days, clients want their websites to be compatible with a variety of devices, including iPhones, iPads, Kindles, HD TVs, desktop computers – you name it. And in five years, who knows how many more of these gadgets will be out there?

When a person visits a website from any one of these devices, they expect it to be easy to navigate and formatted in a way that makes sense. If not, they probably won’t waste their time on it scrolling around and will find another option. Losing website viewers (and potential customers!) for a reason as simple as this is a HUGE mistake for web developers. Yet at the same time, designing an entirely new website to specifically fit each device would take up an impractically large amount of your time. Trust us, we know how precious time is in the web design industry!

Don’t worry, there is a solution to this problem, and it’s called responsive web design. Responsive web design is the concept that a website’s design should adapt to fit the size and shape of the screen that it’s being viewed from. For example, when a person switches from viewing a site on their laptop to their iPhone, the site will automatically recognize this change in device and respond to the new preferences.

Continue reading

5 Mobile Fails You Should Learn From

As smartphone sales continue to grow like crazy, especially as we enter the jolly holiday season, it’s no surprise that mobile is the new bubble. And many companies are paving highly effective ways to engage. Actually we’re all just now figuring it out and grasping the question – how do consumers interact with their mobile devices, what roles do they play in their lives, and how can we tap into that?

So as the learning curve goes, and marketing trial and error takes its course, there are bound to be some fails and missteps. Let’s take a look at five of the mobile fails we can all take a lesson from as we plan our strategies for 2012.

  1. The dying trend, check-in apps. Daily deal offering sites like Groupon and Living Social met the same fate earlier this year. It was enticing at first, and then consumers get bored with it. Oldest story in the book. Gowalla and Foursquare were cool a year ago, but as retailers started to catch on to the trend and created their own shopping apps with check-in incentives, the enthusiasm began to ween.
  2. Forgetting that mobile is a whole different animal. In case anyone out there still questions it, you CANNOT just take your web stuff and throw it on a mobile site. No no no. Mobile is a whole new opportunity to interact. There are benefits, challenges and strategies completely separate from your PC web tools. If you avoid the copy and paste trap in re-purposing the web, you can take advantage new capabilities, such as HTML5.
  3. If you’re doing mobile, do it right. A lot of you are experimenting with mobile tools, such as QR codes and social media, without creating a mobile-optimized destination for visitors. So just when you get them right where you want them, your mobile visitors land on your PC site. Ew! I can promise most of these visitors are not coming back. That’s a lot of lost conversions and sales.
  4. Agencies aren’t focusing on the big picture. Mobile web and mobile strategies can’t just be an afterthought in your bigger plan. But for this fail we blame your marketing agency. We can’t emphasize enough the significance of the mobile experience in the focus of your brand, and in driving further mobile growth. A lot of brands are still just missing the boat on this one.
  5. Manufacturers are still playing catch up. RIP feature phones. I can still remember the simple days, when my phone’s buzz alert could only mean a text message. Now it could be an email, Facebook message, tweet, status update, check-in or any of the thousands of other connections. It was a sudden and unexpectedly rapid death that manufacturers were not ready to capitalize on.

(Thanks to our friends at Mobile Marketer, see their original article.)