The New World of Digital Development

November 19th, 2012

If your content isn’t mobile yet – it better be soon.
That was my take away from our deep-dive into mobile technology as well as from our visit with Roger McNamee when he proclaimed that the future of digital development is unequivocally HTML5.  Since that time, the center has created a mobile app to support our Britt Technology Impact Series (BTIS) in both android and apple as well as a gorgeous, iPad-only app to showcase our long form content. (I posted a blog entry about the iPad experience previously.) We also recently launched an iBook by taking the learnings from the BTIS look at cloud computing and making it multi-touch, interactive and consumable on an iPad.
So when Dean Johnson came to me and said, “Kelli, let’s relaunch my ‘Professor site’ in HTML5,” I wasn’t surprised and was also very excited by the prospect. However, I wasn’t prepared for the rollercoaster ride that lay ahead. After completing a creative brief, I posted our project on, which claims to be the largest marketplace for freelancers. The site allows you to post your project, confirm qualifications, look at reviews and browse work histories. This experience was rather interesting; within 24 hours of posting our project, we received a dozen quotes from a few firms in the states but the majority were in India, having names like Bahatech and Pro Web Solutions. Their capabilities, cost and claims were all across the board.
After selecting 6 firms that could possibly fit our requirements and budget, I began doing Skype interviews and checking references. We ended up selecting one firm out of Gujarat, India and began the process of creating a project timeline, when one of my reference checks was answered via email. The message was essentially, “DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS FIRM. WE PAID IN FULL AND NEVER RECEIVED A THING.” That, combined with three Skype IMs and two emails from the firm requesting full payment, sent us back to the drawing board.
A contract was signed in May of 2012 with a firm based out of Pennsylvania (with developers in India.) The site launched this month. Needless to say, this was one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever managed. The firm was young, their process wasn’t clear (to neither them nor to us) and deadlines weren’t respected. Does our site look great across iPads, iPhones and android phones – you be the judge. Is it truly responsive? No, but I believe the HTML5 inherent to the site delivers some very slick functionality.
If you are looking to make your content truly responsive, do your homework. Look at the best of breed vendors first and work your way back, (firms like for example) always start with the end-user experience as the ultimate goal you won’t compromise on and don’t let developers double-talk you with programming-language capabilities and limitations. Digitally, nearly anything really is possible today. And that’s truley exciting.
Associate Dean M. Eric Johnson

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