Gary Bacon

Jolt

Book Review

Justin Jackson’s book Jolt: Marketing Tactics for Programmers, Designers, Freelancers, Makers, and Entrepreneurs was a great way to start off the year.

It really does give you a Jolt of inspiration.

This book is a great resource for marketing your new product, software, idea, book, or any project that you want to promote. It teaches you to, “Be different, break out of the mold, and surprise folks”.

Justin provides case studies, examples of websites and services using data that you might not known before.

Show Up First

One of the stories he provides is about being first to the party:

There is a first mover advantage that you get on any new platform. In the early days of Twitter, people who grabbed a foothold there were able to amass a big number of followers, even though they might not have been famous elsewhere.

I joined Twitter in May 2007 and can attest to this. Those of us that were there at the beginning ended up with much more engagement with early adopters, forged friendships, and benefited from the platform. Whale is an upcoming platform that I’m seeing the same pattern emerge as I did then.

He goes on to say:

You can set yourself up to create [luck]. Quantity is what gets you to quality. Start placing little bets; try a bunch of things. One of them might work and become big.

This is great. Validate your ideas. Try to see what works, evaluate the data, and keep iterating on what does work. That’s the key. Look back at what you’ve done, revise, and keep pushing forward.

My Top Apps of 2016

Alright, lets take a look at the apps that I used the most in 2016. Iโ€™ll also make note of the apps that have been replaced by another app in the same category.

Apps that I use the most

  • Fantastical – Calendar app of choice on iPhone for 2 years now. Use it a ton on my Mac.
  • Snapchat – Used nearly every day.
  • Simple – still love my bank.
  • Camera – use the built in iOS app a ton now, sorry Camera+.
  • Wallet – formerly Passbook, built in iOS app. Use it for flights, movie tickets, Coca-Cola rewards, and more.
  • Audible – favorite way to read.
  • Instagram – posting more again.
  • Inbox – use this daily. Tried using the new Gmail app. Wish it either had the option to delete ( swipe left ) or archive ( swipe right ). Having one or the other is a ‘meh’ option for me.
  • Facebook + Messenger
  • Swarm – checking in. Helps build my minimal journal.
  • Safari
  • Slack
  • Twitter – find myself using the native app more. Mainly due to the variety of notifications it gives.
  • Way of Life – routines app.
  • Castro – new podcast app. Organizes by feed instead of podcast. So far, great.
  • Paprika – organize my favorite recipes.
  • Lose It! – health app, used since 2009.
  • Apple Music – Updates have made the service better, still not great though.
  • Robinhood – no fee stock trading.
  • Trello – use it at work, and less at home. This wasn’t always the case. Pro tip: don’t create too many boards ๐Ÿ™‚

Google’s Push to a Mobile-First Search Index

Recently Google modified its search index. They are calling the new experiment a “mobile-first” index, they’re emphasizing that mobile first will be given the priority.

…our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a siteโ€™s content to rank pages from that site…

Desktop results will remain the same for now but the user experience and priority for mobile results is evolving.

The main reason for this? Some websites have split their domain for mobile ( m.domain.com ) or offered drastically different content for the mobile experience.

Google wants to remedy that disparity in content.

What can you do? Well for good SEO and great results, I recommend the following:

1. Create a Mobile Friendly Website

The easiest way to do this is to have a responsive website. This means your website will adjust to fit whatever screen the user is reading on.

If you use a CMS, Content Management System, such as WordPress there are a ton of responsive themes that you can find for it.

2. Test Your Website

Google offers a tool that allows you to test your website to see how mobile friendly it is. Below is an example of what it would look like if your website came back with results that show it to be “not mobile-friendly”.

Example of Not Mobile Friendly

3. Content is Still King

It goes without saying that the best way to improve your SEO is to have great content. Make sure that you are putting out content regularly. This will encourage re-indexing, keeping current, and staying on target for the topics or keywords that you want to target.

Source: Google

Deep Linking into the iMessage App Store

When working on Mister Bacon, I realized that the app could be viewed in two different stores. You have the overall app store and then you have the App Store within iMessage itself.

If you install it from the main app store there is a chance that the user might not be able to find it after. More details on that in another post.

When using your iTunes link to the app store be sure to include &app=messages.

This will make it so that when the user clicks on the link via their mobile device, it will pop up in the iMessage App Store automatically.

App Image

How to Use Stickers in the iOS 10 Messages App

With the launch of the iPhone 7 also came the debut of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 10. This latest version of the OS brought with it a ton of new changes, improvements, and added features.

One of those new features is the ability to add stickers to text messages in the Messages app ( or iMessage ).

I’ve had a few people ask me where to find them so I decided to make a short video to walk you through it.

Mister Bacon – delicious bacon stickers for Messages. ( app store )

Apple Watch Not Unlocking a Mac

Setting up the feature that allows you to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch ( must have OS X Sierra & iOS 10 ) has been a bit more tedious than I had anticipated. I believe this is due to a bug.

Two-factor authentication is new. This needs to be set up prior to attempting to use Apple Watch to unlock.

If you have Two-step authentication disable it first.

Pro-tip

Do not try and check the box in System Preferences > Security & Privacy before setting up Two-factor authentication correctly.

There are plenty of guides online for setting this up, however, none have pointed out the bug. I found a few other folks that had the same issues in forums.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-9-08-33-am

The issue is that once you check the box and authenticate, and if Two-step is still on, then OS X hides the checkbox. There is no way, that I’ve found, to re-try this.

Update: To get the checkbox back, simply reboot, reauthenticate, and it should work again.

Headphones You Can Buy Right Now for iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 or iPhone 6SE is fast approaching release. With that, one of the largest rumors around the device is that Apple is discontinuing the 3.5mm jack in favor of using the lightning cable for headphones.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the 3.5mm jack on headphones. After a pair of my Bose did this:

However, Bose being an amazing brand in both quality and customer service, hooked me up with a free replacement pair. Plus, two days later, they upgraded me to Bluetooth so it would never happen again. #winning

While the switch to lightning may seem groundbreaking, or even startling, Apple has actually supported lightning headphones since 2014.

Redesigning This Blog Based on Components

Around the end of June, I decided it was time to redesign my blog. On a flight back from Disney in Orlando, Florida, I opened up Sketch and began crafting a new design.

This is what I came up with:

I’ve always built my WordPress theme from scratch. I like having as little code as possible, speed, and hand-crafting custom CSS. I’m not against frameworks, I just choose not to use one for my own site. More on that in a future post.

Then I let the design sit for a week. Great.

I was also stuck on what I wanted the mobile layout’s navigation to look like. I still have work to do on that. That’s fine. Ship it. Iterate. Repeat.

Evolving the Approach

In the past, I would have taken my own mockup, put it in Zeplin, and then start coding out the CSS from the top down. However, this time, I decided to try something different: I would look at the code as components. With this task, I was not only creating the HTML/CSS but also cleaning up the PHP & HTML that makes up the current theme.

The site would consist of: the main template structure, a blog template, the main navigation, a blog topic navigation, the search bar, a social media cluster, and the blog post content area.

To build momentum, I started out with the smaller components. Doing that ends up being a quick win, which gives you a boost of creative energy. Then repeat and knock out another; repeat it again.

Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories and It’s Confused User Experience

Earlier this month, Instagram released a new feature for it’s app: Instagram Stories. This isn’t a groundbreaking new feature. It’s a feed of stories from your followers that expire in 24 hours.

Just. Like. Snapchat.
( Admittedly so. )

There is definitely a conflict of attention here. You can’t recreate a spontaneous moment to capture it for another platform. I’ve seen many Snapchat users upload videos to Instagram to share with their audience later. That is, until Snapchat introduced the Memories feature and made it much more difficult to save stories to your phone.

We’ll see if Instagram Stories takes off or not. Just due to the sheer volume of users already on Instagram, most likely it will. That being said, having two feeds competing for attention within the same app does seem to be a bit of an odd user experience.

On the other hand, for any app, increased engagement is definitely the goal and a plus.

Sketch 39 Top Features Including Symbol Resize

Resize Layers in Groups & Symbols

“You can now define how layers within groups and Symbols should move/resize when the user resizes a group or symbol.”

This is what excited me the most about the update. I have been wanting this for a long time.

Not only can you change the label of a symbol dynamically. You can now smartly resize symbols and groups. This will save so much time in day to day design activities.

Sketch Cloud (beta)

“Introducing the first version of Sketch Cloud (Beta) โ€” a free service that lets you upload Sketch documents and share them with the world.”

cloud-browser@2x