Web Applications

Congrats to our team and our good friends at Qwest for making CIO Magazine’s Top 100 IT Projects list of 2009.

Excerpt from the online article at both InfoWorld and CIO Magazine:

Qwest Communications Web Portal Project lead: Rick Wertheimer, Program Manager; Betsy Keyes, Director of eMarketing Project description: Qwest, in partnership with EffectiveUI, consolidated 12 portals pulling data from more than 100 legacy systems into a unified online hub for large business customers Industry: Service provider

This makes the second time an EffectiveUI client has made a CIO top 100 list. Herff Jones made their CIO top 100 Company a couple months ago:

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The yearbook publisher developed eDesign, a rich internet application that allows students and teachers to plan, design and manage their yearbooks using a browser. The tool automates the page submission process, lowering yearbook processing times and increasing factory capabilities during the busiest seasons. The company says eDesign has increased online customer orders more than 500 percent, improving its position against competitors within the yearbook market.


It is truthfully an honor to be working with such innovative enterprises. Glad to see they are getting recognized for it

Recently, Webkit announced CSS Animation – There are several articles claiming that this new feature could hurt the plugin space for Adobe and Microsoft … One of the most commented articles was posted on MacRumors Yesterday…

CSS Animation Coming to Safari, Already in iPhone. Less Dependence on Flash? – Mac Rumors

The incorporation of animation into CSS could certainly threaten one of the major uses of Flash on the internet.

I really dislike the author’s positioning of Flash’s major use on the internet as an animation tool – that was 10 years ago. When was the last time you saw “skip intro” on a site (unless it was created with template monster)? Yes, it still is a great animation tool, but it has matured into a great development platform; one, that is bringing revolutionary changes to the web.

Some of the comments on the above post are so fun to read because that are so illogical … why does Flash cause such emotion from developers:


Flash is a thing of the past, people who have disabilities like to be able to view websites and websites composed entirely of flash are nearly impossible for them to navigate. By using CSS it allows them to view the site, and have descriptions of what is going on through their text reader etc. —–

Yay! I hope Flash catches a computer virus and dies. —–

Animation, flashing, blinking, page sounds ruin the web. They are distracting from real content and used as a substitute for quality design. I hope that Apple provide preferences for turning off this sort of junk in Safari on both the Macintosh and iPhone/iPod. —–

No one should ever be talking about “when will Flash be on the iPhone,”, but rather “When will Flash finally die its long overdue death and make way for lighter better web standards?” Screw Flash and the horse it rode in on. —–

and my favorite:

Flash is slow, bloated and adds little value to the ordinary web experience. It SUCKS… —–

Ug! I don’t want to re-hash an older blog post about flash, but these developers are just missing the point. Flash, Silverlight, AJAX, CSS – are all merely tools. All of them powerful in their own way – all of them appropriate for certain uses. At EffectiveUI, we leverage the more powerful browser plug-ins (Flash/Silverlight) to create web experiences that move away from the traditional page based metaphors… In other words, we are creating software, not ordinary web sites.

Of course we use the other, browser based platforms when and where appropriate. I’m actually very excited about CSS Animation – but we will wait a long time to see how the standard is implemented across all browsers before we begin to recommend the standard to our clients…

One last thing … A simple plea to the technology community : drop the religious fanaticism for or against any particular technology – it shows your inexperience and your unwillingness to do your homework. Focus on the end goal: creating better software for people…

We have been building iPhone applications for the last 10 months now and we’ve made it on the Apple “short list” of partners for iPhone development. Occasionally someone calls that got ahold of that list to get a proposal from us. A common issue we are seeing right now is the same issue we saw in the early days of RIA development. Budgets for adequate design and development of these applications are no where close to deliver the types of experiences iPhone customers have come to expect.

What the app store market has done is create an interesting issue for companies considering an iPhone effort – do you build something quick and get it out there for a little, or do you wait for the market to mature and budgets to increase – if you go for the smaller budgets, the applications will not be up to your standards (and you will almost certainly be disappointed)… if you wait for budgets to increase, will the opportunity pass you by?

To answer the question, we needed to look at the app store as it exist today, and try to pull some useful numbers from it. The first thing that struck us is the sheer volume of applications in the store – roughly 12,000 at the time of the writing of this post, less than 6 months from the launch of the store. The second most surprising item was the number of downloads, 300 million and counting. 


App Store Growth is Absolutely Amazing

If the above trend continues, by the middle of next year there will be 100,000+ applications and 3 Billion (yes, with a B) downloads of those apps. That means if you start building your iPhone application today, by the time it is released you will most likely be competing with 100,000 other apps for an average of 34,000 downloads per. This presents a HUGE opportunity for some, while an even larger dilemma for others – The upside is obvious: if you create an application for the app store and its even a mild success: cha-ching! The downside is that it will be easy to get lost in the 100,000+ applications.  For a little more inight,we looked at the individual app store categories: we noticed, even today, it would be difficult to create something truly differentiating for a low budget… there are 2800+ games, 1000+ educational apps,  1000+ productivity, 1800+ “utilities”… heck, there are even 100 “weather” category apps and over 800 in the “books” category.


Our advice: For those that are considering an iPhone experience next year, you need to make a hard choice. If you decide to go forward, you will need to look at creating something that is truly differentiating – this means respecting the power of the iPhone platform and taking the proper time (and resources) to craft an engaging application. If you believe you will fall short, save your money and and use the built in Safari Browser on the iPhone along with some internal web developers to create a website presence specifically designed for the iPhone.

It is too late to be a “first mover” in this market – it is time to do it right or not at all —


update: it appears that I’m not the only one commnenting on the status of the app store application market: 

Earlier today I posted about someone posting about somebody else’s post on jobs that are “recession proof” ( gotta love the internets :)

That post spawned a request from Jeremy Geelan over at Sys-Con to give my two cents on yet another “recession” related technology topic: 10 Tips for Riding Out the Recession as a Software Vendor.  

The post was crafted from 10 technology execs that had tips to hunker down and see this thing through :

  1. Prioritize Harvesting Existing Assets and Opportunities (Jeremy Chone @ Nexaweb)
  2. Plan For The Worst (Mitchell Kertzman, Hummer Winblad VC)
  3. Focus on Helping Your Customers’ Bottom Line (Jnan Dash, Curl)
  4. Get Revenue Control (Chris Keene, WaveMaker)
  5. Buckle Down, Conserve Your Cash (Jeff Haynie, Appcelerator)
  6. Push Agility and Speed (John Crupi, JackBe)
  7. Grow the Talent You Have (Jason Calacanis,
  8. Make Your Top Ten 10% Better (Jason Calacanis,
  9. Build Market-share (Jason Calacanis,
  10. Adopt Cloud Computing (Michael Sheehan, GoGrid & ServePath)
Good post – the “2 cents” I shared with them – 

I think everyone of these tips are excellent for any business, but aren’t all of them things we should be doing anyhow? Recession or no recession? When we look to expand our business at EffectiveUI, we look for ways our clients can save big money or really grow revenue (or both). Why else would anyone hire us? Recession proofing your company is about making your company excellent. That way, during down times you will do more than just survive, and in bullish times you will thrive.

Our focus continues to be on attracting awesome talent and fostering a culture of teamwork, entrepreneurship and execution excellence. And then, most importantly, getting out of our own way. I’ve been astounded how successful it is when you empower everyone in a company to make a difference. What does empowerment actually mean? Giving permission to fail, as long as they fail forward. It means trusting your team has done their homework and has more context than you when making important  decisions. I’m not talking about anarchy – we all collaborate on a direction, provide insight based on our experience & education, and sometimes (but very rarely) managers have to make unpopular decisions for the benefit of the entire company. However, we’ve come to realize that success does not look like a bunch of “heroes” at the top make miraculously insightful decisions that pull the company ahead – rather success looks like a bunch of small failures where managers provide support, encouragement, some structure, and above all else – foster a great team culture.

What I meant by my comments: To recession proof your business: Focus On Quality People! They are the best chance to ride through any downturn.  

Then, as an ironic coincidence, Guy Kawasaki from AllTop just twittered an old post he wrote over 2 years ago: “The Art Of Bootstrapping” … The “list”:

  1. Focus on cash flow, not profitability.
  2. Forecast from the bottom up.
  3. Ship, then test
  4. Forget the ”proven“ team.
  5. Start as a service business.
  6. Focus on function, not form.
  7. Pick your battles.
  8. Understaff.
  9. Go direct.
  10. Position against the leader.
  11. Take the “red pill.”
Guy’s post is a worth-while read for sure (you need to read it to dig into the meaning of each item) .
I would humbly argue the “proven” team item just a bit – He states that you should start with hiring young guys and gals that are really smart over experienced people from billion dollar companies. He’s forgetting about those people that come from mid-size companies that have experience under their belt and can get you where you need to go with less risk and much faster than if you hired a bunch of new college grads that have never actually put a UI on top of an SOA (or worse, they don’t know how to spell API or SOA). Even better – find a partner that has experience building enterprise applications for those billion dollar companies ;)  They can get you rolling quickly without the weight of a “corporate” structure – Best of both worlds!


Cut to early June, Intelligence Gaming sat in our “fishbowl” conference room, and Jim Cheng, one of our senior ui developers, is wearing a headset listening to an amazing audio clip that includes technology called “binaural audio” – Jim spins around in his chair, as though something loud happened behind him – he screamed out a “WHOOP!, This is awesome!”. As he was listening to the audio, Maikel Sibbald, Jim’s development cohort, was watching a video clip shot with a 360 degree camera. Steve, one of the incredibly smart people behind the RealityV concept from Intelligence Gaming, pulled out a head mounted, LCD display unit and asked “Can you guys combine these experiences into this piece of hardware?” – I told him ” You had me at hello!”

Since then, our team has been pulling crazy hours to combine super high-resolution video, 8 channels of audio into an immersive training experience for the US Army:

The situational awareness training will be delivered to the ARMY in “episodes” this year and is just the tip of the iceberg for the platform. What is really innovate about all of this is that we are using “off the shelf” hardware, including an interactive USB glove that allows participants to interact  with the content while wearing the headset.

If you are lucky enough to be at MAX 2008 this year, we are showcasing the application (you will actually get to put this thing on and test drive it yourself) – Hope to see you there!!


you can also read a little more about the application here on TechCrunch:

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