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What Do Women Want from Mobile Apps?

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:26 AM on March 10, 2011:

We've been working on answering that question - "What do women want from mobile apps?" - on Handshake 2.0.  We were delighted to have our work cited by iAlja in Android for girls: a new frontier.  Here's an excerpt from her comprehensive post that includes links to a post by Maureen Carruthers and research on women and mobile apps by Anne Piedmont of Piedmont Research Associates. iAlja's "A girl's app manifesto" is a beautiful synthesis of what we, too, have found that women want from mobile apps. 

What do women want from mobile apps?

The big question for all app developers is, of course, what do women want from mobile apps? How can we make apps that women will want to download?

I found a really good answer to this on the Handshake 2.0 blog, where Maureen Carruthers writes about what she's looking for in mobile apps (emphasis mine):

"The final quality of my favorite apps is how they make me feel - about myself. ... these apps help me feel loved, well-read and prepared. ... Most importantly, they are intuitive, so they never make me feel stupid. No matter how potentially amazing an app may be, if I can’t easily figure it out, it will gather virtual dust."

Another survey among female mobile app users came to the conclusion that (emphasis mine):

Women want to be connected. They want to be informed. They want apps that help them through the day, whether it is comparison shopping, turn-by-turn directions, or a way to be more organized.”

So, we don't want clutter, we don't need extra bling - we want apps that are easy to use and that makes our lives better or easier! Women are probably more likely than men to see their phones as tools that shouldn't require a manual, but should provide clear value in everyday life.

Of course, this doesn't apply to just women - many users outside the geeky, tech crowd feel the same! And here's my advice for app developers: focus on everyday usability and experience, not on fancy algorithms and tech talk.

Instagram, for instance, is a good example of a great mobile app service that isn't anything special from the technological point of view, but it does provide great experience and community. And that's what counts for most users, not necessarily just women. (Excellent blog post on a related note: Quora is from Mars, Instagram is from Venus)

A girl's app manifesto

Finally, here are 7 key points I wish every app developer, male or female, would keep in mind when planning, designing or programming mobile apps.

  1. Think about me.
  2. I don’t like wasting time.
  3. Make my life better or fun.
  4. Don’t make me feel stupid.
  5. Don’t make me change for you.
  6. I’m looking for experiences, not features.
  7. Yes, I like pretty, but I’m not a princess.

via ialja.blogspot.com

Here's our category on Women and Mobile Apps on Handshake 2.0

Thanks again, iAlja. We'll definitely have your key points in mind as we launch a network of women mobile application developers.

Tech Showcase: TORC's Autonomous Vehicle and the Blind Driver Challenge

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:28 AM on March 10, 2011:

We asked TORC Technologies to share with Handshake 2.0's audience more about the story we learned first from Montgomery County, VA Economic Development and TORC's Media Center. David Cutter kindly replied:

In early 2010 Dr. Dennis Hong, Director of Robotics and Mechanisms Lab (RoMeLa) at Virginia Tech, was tasked with upgrading his “phase 1” prototype dune-buggy and nonvisual interfaces for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Blind Driver Challenge, and putting blind drivers in a real, road-ready vehicle. Because of the way the nonvisual interfaces (DriveGrip and SpeedStrip) work, the equivalent of an autonomous vehicle was required.
 
To accomplish this in such an aggressive timeframe, and remain focused on improving the novel devices used to communicate with the blind driver, Dr. Hong made the decision to leverage TORC’s off-the-shelf mobile robotics platform – the ByWire XGV. This “modified Ford Escape” was then topped off with TORC’s PowerHub modules which are used to distribute power to all of the added sensors, computers, and the nonvisual devices added to the system. A custom version of TORC’s AutonoNav (autonomous navigation system) was used to process the environment and make driving decisions.
 
In a typical autonomous vehicle, these decisions would be fed back into the vehicle’s control systems to carry out the actual driving behaviors. Here is what makes this project so unique: Instead of driving the blind person around autonomously, the whole point of the Challenge was to let the blind person make active decisions and have full control over driving the vehicle. This is why communicating through the nonvisual interfaces was so critical for the project’s success.
 
This is a perfect example of why using TORC products makes sense – it allows the researchers to proceed full steam ahead on their technological innovations and not “reinvent the wheel” by building custom, one-off robotic systems which can eat up a majority of a project’s time and engineering resources. TORC is extremely proud to have its products and engineering support used in such a visionary project led by the Dr. Hong, NFB and Virginia Tech.

TORC Technologies was featured on the Today Show.

Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes This edition of the Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0 is sponsored by Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R), is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  You're invited to download the Coldwell Banker Townside App, check out the CBT blog, Keepin' It Real Estate, visit Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) on Facebook, and see more of Coldwell Banker Townside on Handshake 2.0

Coldwell Banker Townside REALTORS is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Does Your Business Need QR Codes? An Internet Quiz

Posted by Maureen Carruthers at 9:30 AM on March 9, 2011:

This is a QR code. Do you want to scan it?

QR codes are popping up all over.  As is often the case with new technology tools, popping up with them are numerous articles about what they are, how to create them, and examples of how they are being used.  With all that press, it’s easy to worry your business is falling behind and you must drop everything else RIGHT NOW to avoid missing the marketing innovation of the century.

Of course, it could turn out that QR codes aren’t all they are cracked up to be - or they just aren’t a good fit for you and your right people.  Many new tech breakthroughs get early adopters salivating about the possibilities, only to prove ultimately pointless for most business owners.

But which is it?  Rather than doing all the research and then finding out the new tech isn’t a good fit, how about just answering a few questions to figure out if researching QR codes is worth your time?

QR Code Compatibility Quiz

Will QR Codes help you grow your business?  Answer the 4 questions below to find out.  Give yourself one point for each “yes” answer.  Then add up your score and interpret it below.

1.  Do your customers use smart phones?
The only way to “translate” a QR code is to scan it with the camera on a smart phone.  If your customers don’t have smart phones, these codes are worthless.

2.  Do you have simple forms you want customers to fill out?
If you want customers to sign up for your mailing list or complete an online survey, making it easy to do in the moment is key.  Using a QR code link to the survey rather than to a traditional URL means customers can scan the code and complete the form before they leave your store, which means you don’t have to count on them remembering to do it when they get home.

3.  Does your business have a mobile app?
If your company has it’s own mobile app, advertising it with a QR code can dramatically increase downloads because scanning the code takes customers right to the install page - eliminating all of the potentially confusing (and distracting) steps it takes to navigate to it through the app store.

4.  Do your customers respond well to “secret” offers?
If so, QR codes open new opportunities to extend your offers.  Just send customers a short tutorial about how to use QR codes via e-mail newsletter, or other semi-private communication channel, tell them about the new “QR club” and how to play.  Then, display the actual code (without comment) in your store or on your website.

(Note:  If you use a QR code, make sure it points to a mobile-optimized web page that rewards visitors for clicking.  A page offering discounts or free gifts will definitely work, as will limited edition products, insider information, scavenger hunt clues, or even just a funny joke or story.  What won’t work is pointing the code to your website’s homepage or a standard advertisement - not only will you not sell anything, you’ll train your customers to avoid scanning future codes.)

Scoring:
0 points:  QR codes probably aren’t for you.  Ignore at will!

1 point:   QR codes are iffy for your business, but you may want to read at least one article linked in this post before crossing them off your list.

2-3 points: QR codes have a lot of potential for your business.  Consider incorporating one into your next marketing campaign and measuring the results.

4 points: QR codes go with your business like peanut butter goes with jelly.  Once you start using the codes you may wonder how you ever lived without them.

The best part of Internet quizzes is comparing scores.  If you’d like to share, report your score in the comments and let us know if (or how) you will incorporate QR codes into your marketing.

When Maureen isn't excercising her Cosmo-style quiz writing skills she can be found answering nonprofit marketing questions at Low Hanging Fruit.

Ten Business Lessons from Twenty Years in Business

Posted by Donna Dilley at 7:00 AM on March 8, 2011:

After establishing and running my business now for almost twenty years, I have struggled, observed and made many discoveries. Here are the most important lessons I have learned:

1. Do what you love. Have passion for your vision, no matter how big or small.

Donna Dilley in 1994 2. Have the heart of a servant. If you do not enjoy serving others, there is no reason to own your own business.

3. Be thankful each morning for the opportunity to labor doing something you love. It is a great privilege that many never experience.

4. Surround yourself with a circle of people you trust. Solicit opinions, feedback and bounce ideas around with the individuals in your circle.

5. Be flexible and know that those who aren't will get bent out of shape. In other words, be willing to adapt; adjust procedures, offerings and marketing approaches to correspond with the always changing times.

6. Take care of your physical health. Starting and running a business is a bit like having a baby - all-consuming. Neglecting to carve out a niche for your personal well-being will lead to added stress and burn-out.

7. Avoid negative people that do not value your contributions and who diminish your confidence in your abilities. Running a business is not meant for the faint-hearted and you need all the courage and confidence that you can muster to stick with it.

8. Trust your intuition. When in doubt, don't!

9. Put everything in writing.

10. Be willing to admit your errors and apologize when you are wrong.

Donna Dilley has been a business etiquette consultant based In Roanoke, Virginia since 1994.  You're invited to read more from Donna Dilley on Handshake 2.0.

Who's in FRONT? Margaret Galecki

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on March 7, 2011:

Margaret Galecki Margaret Galecki, General Manager of the Blacksburg, Virginia office of Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS, was featured in "The Real Estate App" by Rachel Garrity in the March, 2011 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo credit: Rachel Garrity

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia. You're invited to read moreFRONT and to follow Valley Business FRONT on Twitter, @vbFRONT.

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS is a sponsor of the first meeting of the Network of Women Mobile Application Developers in Blacksburg, Virginia.

You can read posts by Margaret Galecki on Handshake 2.0.

The Coldwell Banker Townside App is a Your Handshake(R) App, a Handshake(R) brand mobile application from Handshake Media, Incorporated.

Download the Coldwell Banker Townside App for the iPhone in the iTunes App Store

Download the Coldwell Banker Townside App for the Android in the Android Market

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Network of Women Mobile App Developers to Launch

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on March 4, 2011:

While I may not currently be in the midst of developing an app, I know that when the times comes, having a network will be critical to my education and execution of a "killer app."
- Gail Billingsley, Executive Director, YMCA at Virginia Tech

I love Gail's reason for attending the first meeting of the Network of Women Mobile Application Developers!

We have almost 25 who have responded to our invitation to attend the meeting on Monday, March 7, 2011 in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Interest and support have been so strong!

Thanks to the support and sponsorship of Coldwell Banker, Townside REALTORS, First Bank & Trust CompanyHutchison Law Group, and Handshake Media, attendees will be treated to a complimentary reception on March 7.

The first group of 12 to receive training on March 16 will be treated to a complimentary meal thanks to the support and sponsorship of VT KnowledgeWorks.

And thanks to Ryan Hagan, Shierod Russell and Wesley Ferrell - who are volunteering their time to help - we will have on-site technical support during the training.

And I got this in an email from a software expert yesterday:  "What can I do to help?"

Overwhelming.

We welcome more to our first meeting.

Women in the Blacksburg, Virginia area interested in joining other women to learn about mobile application development are invited to the first meeting of the Network of Women Mobile Application Developers. The meeting will be on Monday, March 7, 2011 beginning at 5:30 PM in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Please email me, Anne Giles Clelland, [email protected], for an invitation. 

***

Here's the "history" of the Network of Women Mobile Application Developers.  Posts are listed in  chronological order and where they appeared, some with descriptive notes.

Coldwell Banker, Townside REALTORS(R) and First Bank & Trust Company are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Mobile App from Coldwell Banker Townside Realtors in FRONT

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on March 2, 2011:

In Valley Business FRONT, that is.  Margaret Galecki, General Manager of the Blacksburg, Virginia office of Coldwell Banker Townside REALTORS, is featured in "The Real Estate App" by Rachel Garrity in the March, 2011 issue of Valley Business FRONT.  You can "turn" to page 30 and read the story online.

Coldwell Banker Townside App is featured in Valley Business FRONT

The Coldwell Banker Townside App is a Your Handshake(TM) App, a Handshake(TM) brand mobile application from Handshake Media, Incorporated. 

Download the Coldwell Banker Townside App for the iPhone in the iTunes App Store
Download the Coldwell Banker Townside App for the Android in the Android Market

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R), is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  You're invited to check out the CBTownside blog, Keepin' It Real Estate, visit Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) on Facebook, follow Coldwell Banker Townside on Twitter, and learn more about Coldwell Banker Townside on Handshake 2.0

You're invited to read posts by Margaret Galecki on Handshake 2.0.

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

The Coldwell Banker Townside App is a Your Handshake(TM) App from the line of Handshake(TM) mobile applications developed by Handshake Media, Incorporated

Lemons on My Front Bumper and Other Lessons Learned from India

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 10:00 AM on March 1, 2011:

A guest post for Handshake 2.0 from Kathy Claytor:

India is appealing as a low-cost business partner:  English is widely spoken, the government is democratic, the workforce is young and plentiful. 

Our organization built an information technology (IT) shop in Chennai, India.  Here's what I learned:

Lessons learned from India by Kathy Claytor Time is your friend. Time is your enemy.  India is 10.5 hours ahead of New York.  Work handed off to Indian colleagues at 5:00 PM EST when you come into work the next day is complete.  Perfect!  But think about it, you wouldn’t throw work over to the next cubicle and expect it to be completed without any interaction, would you?  A good work product requires interaction.  United States-based and Indian-based teams will be on Skype in the early morning hours.

Yes doesn’t always mean yes.  A talented programmer turned in his resignation.  His reason:  He was the second oldest brother and it was his turn to move to Singapore to help his family.  He did not want to go.  Our vice president in the U.S. called him and asked him to stay.  Our employee said, "Yes."  The employee left for Singapore one week later.  This employee could not tell our high ranking VP “No” on the phone and disappoint him. 

Filters and assumptions need tossing.  Indian culture is full of beautiful traditions.  The people can be kind-hearted and hard-working.  Embrace the culture!  I congratulated my Indian colleague who announced she was getting married.  I was surprised when she told me she would meet her husband-to-be soon. Most Indian marriages are arranged. I learned to honor this tradition.  I stopped worrying when statues of Indian gods were displayed in the workplace.  I learned to enjoy my Indian company car and driver who hangs lemons from the front and back car bumpers to ward off evil spirits.

“Glo-cal” is a term used to represent the most successful companies who understand that global policies and values must be blended with local culture and norms.

Kathy Claytor is a global human capital professional.