Move over Explorer. Here comes something leaner. (tell me you’re old enough to remember Sizzlean)
Working in online strategy and regularly analyzing Google Analytics accounts for various clients, we’ve seen first hand the evolution of browser usage. We’ve watched traffic from Explorer moving from first position, to second, third, and so on. It comes as little surprise to many that Firefox, Safari and Chrome are gobbling up market share away from browsers like Explorer.
Although in the market place at large, Explorer is still on top (for now), these other browsers are experiencing significant growth. This summer, it was reported that Chrome now enjoys 20% of global internet browser market share. What this means to anyone with a website is it’s high time you ensure your website works well (read: isn’t wonky or dysfunctional) with these other browsers. Even better would be to look at your own analytics. If you see, under ‘Technology’ in the new GA, that the majority of your visitors use Chrome to experience your website, you will want to optimize it for this browser and ensure all future improvements consider browser usage. It’s surprising how often this is overlooked.
Do you have a favourite browser? Which one and why?
On November 11, Google’s Webmaster Central Blog announced its progress with indexing Adobe Flash content. A webpage is indexed when Google becomes aware of its existence and is added to Google’s database. In the past, Flash was a big problem for search engine optimization because search engines like Google, were not able to crawl (read) content within Flash files. As a result, Google was not able to understand and properly rank websites created largely in Flash.
In June 2008, Google announced significant improvements for indexing Adobe Flash files, such as the ability to index textual content and discover URLs within Flash files. Further improvements were announced in June 2009.
Flash content and videos offer a richer medium to engage website visitors. There is always a trade-off between making a website look attractive with Flash content and making it more search engine friendly. With these improvements, the trade-off is reduced and ultimately allows website developers to improve the visitors’ experience, from finding a website to exploring it.
Every month I take some time and check out the latest videos posted to TED. The latest talk to catch my eye is by Chris Anderson, previous publisher and now curator for TED. He speaks of the rise in web videos fueling a cycle of innovation in a talk titled “How web video powers global innovation”.
Anderson states there are three things needed for crowd accelerated innovation: crowd, light, and desire. A crowd of people who share an interest. A light, as defined as a means for people to see what others are creating. And desire, inspiring people to participate.
So, unlike crowdsourcing (where tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, are outsourced to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call), crowd accelerated innovation is less controlled or contrived – it just happens. The web has made it easier than ever to form crowds, as well as shine a light on what is being created. And the desire, we know is out there. “We are a social species,” Anderson says. “We spark off each other.”
Anderson speaks about how the accessibility of video on the web (and the abundance of it), allows for people to teach themselves (and share with others) how to do things they might never have done before. He speaks to how video is accelerating the speed at which we are innovating (an interesting thought when you consider that Cisco predicts that within four years more than 90% of the web’s content will be video).
The world of dance has evolved with dance videos being posted online. Kids are able to teach themselves, and challenge others. Jonathan Chu, a director, writer and producer, also part of a dance crew called AC/DC (Adam/Chu Dance Crew), is quoted saying:
“Dancers have created a whole global laboratory online. Kids in Japan are taking moves from a YouTube video created in Detroit, building on it within days and releasing a new video, while teenagers in California are taking the Japanese video and remixing it to create a whole new dance style”.
This type of accelerated innovation in effect produces a new kind of dance dance revolution (check out this kid’s moves).
I agree with Anderson whole heartedly and can see that power in numbers has served us well when it comes to many things, take for example: programming. Open source practices lend themselves well to the internet, which allows code to be easily shared and distributed. Thus allowing for more collaboration, resulting in further innovation and creativity.
TED, probably without realising, is actively promoting the idea of crowd accelerated innovation. By crowdsourcing and appealing to audiences to help translate their talks online, they have managed to provide subtitles in 18 different languages. This accessibility allows millions of people to access the magnitude of intelligence, creativity and innovation surrounding technology, entertainment and design that TED shares with us daily.
We are part of their crowd. What innovation do you think is worth accelerating?
H.264 is a video codec that is used in a number of different containers, for example, .MP4, .FLV, .MOV.
As of May 2010, the H.264 format has claimed a stake in 66 percent of all videos online, making it the current leader for internet video compression.
One reason is, well, H.264 is an athletic encoder – it looks great and weighs less! Technically, it offers nearly three times greater compression than MPEG-2, at half the file size, and still looks clean and sharp, I like to think of it as the star wrestler of video encoders, the way it squashes data flat.
Another reason for H.264′s dominance, is it’s flexibility. H.264 was created to allow content from your home computer to be delivered to other devices without the time consuming hassle of converting. So, if you happen to have the latest technology in your hands, you can share your H.264 videos from your computer to your iPhone to your iPod to your DVD player, to your TV set-top box with no sweat, no cursing, no mangled, stretched or pixelated video.
And finally, I would guess that YouTube – the Ruling King of Video – has been one of the major forces in pushing H.264 to the top.
In the beginning, YouTube’s favored codec was H.263 Sorenson Spark in an FLV container. And people were astounded at the speed of playback and the ability of H.263 to crunch a fat movie down to an edible size. We were finally watching video in real time, on our home computers, without fits and starts, and the world was forever changed.
Since then, YouTube, whose very existence requires the staff stay on top of evolving video compression standards, started using H.264 in 2007 and three years later, YouTube uses and promotes H.264 FLV. In a recent blog post, YouTube explained that they chose H.264 because they need a format that will work with as many browsers as possible. And for efficiency’s sake, YouTube needs to minimize the number of formats they accept to keep up with their manic upload rate of 24 hours of video every minute (makes me sweat just thinking about it!).
While YouTube gives a nodd to the people-friendly open video format VP8, YouTube says they’re sticking with the Flash Player and H.264 for now, noting Flash’s security features and it’s technical capabilities such as recording from a webcam straight on to YouTube for live chat and broadcasting.
Confucius says “The cautious seldom err.” These words can be applied to matters as practical as hiring a web designer or programmer for your next project.
We often hear unfortunate tales from clients who have hired a designer or programmer, only to be left with an unfinished project. There are also those cases when the project was completed, but the designer dodged out of town and left the client without any follow-up support.
With that in mind, we have assembled a list of questions and considerations for you to keep in mind before choosing a professional for your next project.
Some of these points come courtesy of other wise resources (cited below). Others come as a result of years of experience, and our share of heartaches, too.