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Adobe Abandons Mobile Flash: Tips on Implementing HTML5 on Mobile Platforms

A few months ago, we gave some tips on how to define your mobile newsroom presence. One of those tips talked about keeping Flash at a minimum for mobile devices:

While there are mobile devices which can run Flash, using Flash should be avoided for both mobile sites and applications. For video, recent studies show that HTML 5 outperforms Flash on mobile devices.

HTML5 Logo

Yesterday, Adobe announced that they will be ceasing development of the mobile version of Flash Player for mobile browsers in order to continue their focus on HTML5. This is huge news for any organization which uses Flash for mobile websites to deliver multimedia content or interactive graphics.

According to Adobe VP Danny Winokur, “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.” While these are strong words from Adobe, it’s important to note that any organization that begins to transition its Flash content to HTML5 must keep two important thoughts in mind.

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Mediabistro Course

Travel Writing

Travel WritingStarting September 23, learn how to turn your travel stories into published essays and articles! Taught by a former Vanity Fair staff writer, James Sturz will teach you how to report, interview, and find sources, discover story ideas and pitch them successfully, and understand what travel editors look for in a story. Register now!

News of the World and Twitter, as an infographic

As part of its ongoing coverage of the News of the World scandal involving cell phone hacking, The Guardian has produced a nifty interactive infographic that marries the reaction on Twitter to the story’s development over time.

Much like The New York Times here in the the U.S., the Guardian in the U.K. often makes use of infographics to tell stories, and give added dimensions to stories in other formats.

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Sign Up Today for Mediabistro’s Journalism and Technology Boot Camp

Listen up journalists! Do you need a crash course on the current digital landscape of the journalism world but don’t have the time for trial and error? Looking for industry best practices on how to use social media in your research or for your organization’s website? Mediabistro has you covered with their online Journalism and Technology Boot Camp course. Here’s the information:

WHEN: 8 weeks, May 24 – July 19
Online Chats: Tuesdays, 8-9 p.m. ET

WHERE: Online. Click here to register.

LEVEL: Intermediate/Advanced

In this class, we’ll explore the many interactive digital tools available to today’s journalist. Through weekly assignments, you’ll gain hands-on experience building maps, photo galleries, slideshows, and timelines, and learn how to use live-blogging and curation tools to take advantage of social media and real-time reporting.

In order to maximize the technology available, you have to know what tools are out there and when and how to use them. We’ll discuss innovative examples of journalism and technology to determine the best practices for developing your own tools and storytelling techniques. Students can opt to post stories and packages to their own blog or website, or contribute to a private class blog.

In this class, you will learn:

  • How and when to use interactive online tools to enhance your reporting
  • How to present and curate information using maps, video, photo galleries, slideshows, and timelines
  • What role social media should play in your research, reporting, and promotion
  • How to use a Content Management System and the basics of site management
  • What you need to know about Flash as a journalist

By the end of this class, you will have:
A portfolio of interactive components to support your reporting including a map, video clip, photo gallery or slideshow, timeline, live-blog transcript, and curated social news package. You’ll also gain familiarity working with a Content Management System.

Click here to register today! As an added bonus for our faithful 10,000 Words reader, use the promotional code WORDS50 to get a $50 discount!

Optimizing News Websites for Google TV

Google TV

In late 2010, Google developed their new smart TV platform entitled Google TV. The service is built on the Android operating system, and functions as a set-top box to allow users to watch on-demand video services, such as YouTube, Google Reader, and Google Chrome. This integration allows users to subscribe to your site and have regular updates pushed to their Google TV devices (similar to an RSS feed with an RSS aggregator). Mobile phones and tablet devices are changing the landscape of the web for organizations, and soon you may even ask “how does my site look on TV”? This is especially important since Google TV will soon be able to access the Android Market, according to recent news. Since Google TV lies somewhere between mobile devices and desktops/laptops in terms of functionality and user experience, here are a few helpful guidelines to make sure your site is ready for prime time on Google TV.

Design for the Big Screen

According to the Leichtman Research Group, as of 2010, 61% of US households own at least one HDTV, with 26% owning more than one. These high resolution displays mean that there is an increased distance between the user to the television, which means that elements on websites need to be large enough to be seen across the room at a glance. Larger elements also means increased white space between elements. Lets take a look at the New York Times on Google TV.

New York Times on Google TV

New York Times on Google TV

Along with this, websites need to make sure that the most important information is at the top of the page. Web designers call this property “above the fold”, meaning that you include information at the top of a page to prevent users from scrolling vertically to find more information. Since HDTVs will more than likely be widescreen displays (either 720p or 1080p), this means that organizations should rely on either horizontal or grid navigation to make it easier for users to go through your site.

Function over Form

Keep in mind that the processors for most Google TV devices will be somewhere between your mobile phone and your desktop or laptop in terms of processing power. Google has partnered with Intel, Sony, Logitech for current Google TV devices, and new partnerships with Samsung and Vizio ensure that new, faster devices will be coming to the market by the holiday season. Websites designed for Google TV will need to be able to load quickly without a lot of extra animations or Flash videos. Google TV can display Flash content, but it will not be at the same speed as a desktop or laptop, so keep that in mind. Let’s take a look at Al Jazeera on Google TV.

Al Jazeera on Google TV

Al Jazeera on Google TV

Make Navigation Big and Simple

One thing the Al Jazeera site illustrates is that you should also look to use access keys for navigation, such as arrow keys or letters on the keyboard. The mouse pointer on Google TV is small and hard to see, so enabling navigation by keyboard to access a menu or a section of the website creates a great user experience. The key is to simplify user navigation as much as possible. Primary actions for the user should be available in one click; don’t hide key features for your site in menus. You should also provide a legend to explain your keyboard-based navigation system. Don’t make your users think too much about how to navigate your website on Google TV, or else they may change the channel.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom

The Chrome Browser in Google TV supports the non-standard CSS property called zoom. What does this do, you ask? According to Sitepoint, this property controls the magnification level for the current element. This means that text, videos, and other elements on your page can be enlarged to allow for viewing across large distances or for visually impaired users. Because zoom is a non-standard property, you would probably have to test this on Google TV for troubleshooting purposes.

KQED on Google TV

KQED on Google TV

Overall, these are just a few things developers can do to optimize news websites for Google TV. Other news organizations have already started developing for Google TV, including USA Today, Huffington Post, and KQED. Google has provided a full optimization guide, as well as a number of optimized templates. What news organizations have you seen on Google TV? Share your findings in the comments.

Innovative companies you should be watching: UNIQLO

Some of the most exciting innovation in the combination of technology and media happens outside of the journalism industry. Apparel manufacturer UNIQLO is, like many non-journalism companies nowadays, taking the media into its own hands by producing online and interactive content designed to pull visitors in and show off their brand.

Take for instance the show-stopping interactive video produced exclusively for the company that featured models walking down a runway. As the models walked by, visitors could click a piece of clothing and immediately be taken to the site where the garment could be purchased. A recording of the video and the screenshot of the interactivity are below.

Another interesting UNIQLO feature was its Tokyo Fashion Map that combined 1,000 photos of people in various locations in Tokyo with a Google map that indicated where the photos were taken.

UNIQLO isn’t afraid to go off the beaten path with quirky tools like COLOR TWEET! that transform Twitter feeds or keywords into a colorful visual concoction.

Of course, UNIQLO has both an iPad and iPhone app. However, instead of using the mobile medium to push its own content, the company created a beautiful calendar app that is useful, fun to look at, and most importantly promotes brand awareness.

While the aforementioned projects may not relate to journalism explicitly, seeing how other creatives are using the web and media can inspire your own work. You can find more innovative projects from UNIQLO here.

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