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Issue № 312

In this issue: Designing iPhone apps—what you need to know. And converting frustrated users to loyal customers by creating and maintaining good help content.

Good Help is Hard to Find

by Lyle Mullican · 22 Comments

Help content gets no respect. For one thing, it is content, and our horse-before-cart industry is only now beginning to seriously tackle content strategy. For another, we assume that our site is so usable, nobody will ever need the help content anyway. Typically, no one is in charge of the help content and no strategy exists to keep it up to date. On most sites, help content is hard to find, poorly written, blames the user, and turns a mildly frustrating experience into a lousy one. It's time to rethink how we approach this part of our site. Done well, help content offers tremendous potential to earn customer loyalty. By learning to plan for and create useful help content, we can turn frustrated users into our company's biggest fans.

Apps vs. the Web

by Craig Hockenberry · 31 Comments

There's an app for that, and you're the folks who are creating it. But should you design a web-based application, or an iPhone app? Each approach has pluses and minuses—not to mention legions of religiously rabid supporters. Apple promotes both approaches (they even gave the web a year-long head start before beginning to sell apps in the store), and the iPhone's Safari browser supports HTML5 and CSS3 and brags a fast JavaScript engine. Yet many companies and individuals with deep web expertise choose to create iPhone apps instead of web apps that can do the same thing. Explore both approaches and learn just about everything you'll need to know if you choose to create an iPhone app, from the lingo, to the development process, to the tricks that can smooth the path of doing business with Apple.

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From the Blog

15 Years Ago in ALA: Much Ado About 5K

15 years ago this month, a plucky ALA staffer wrote “Much Ado About 5K,” an article on a contest created by Stewart Butterfield that challenged web designers and developers to build a complete website using less than 5K of images and code. As one group of modern web makers embraces mobile-first design and performance budgets, while another (the majority) worships at the altar of bigger, fatter, and slower, the 5K contest reminds us that a byte saved is a follower earned.