ASAE Technology Conference: Mobile wisdom

I’m attending my first-ever ASAE Technology Conference, with association technology professionals from all over the country (and maybe beyond). Day 1 of 2 is behind me, and I walked away from it with some interesting observations and great insights — most of them regarding mobile devices and information delivery.

I’m not going to try to wrap a lot of wisdom around this information because I’m running on fumes right now. But here are some of the best tidbits I scribbled in my notebook (yes, pen and paper at a tech conference; really).

Luke Wroblewski, author of “Mobile First,” brought his message of designing first and foremost for mobile to the opening General Session. Why mobile first? Partly because mobile usage is growing so fast, but largely — and this is the part I love — because mobile design forces you to focus on the most important elements of your website. If you have to design for a screen that measures only 320×480 pixels, you’re forced to cut out a whole lot of extraneous junk that clutters up larger web pages. If you start there, you’ll know what’s really important, and it’s a lot easier to produce an elegant, simple, usable web design even for a larger screen size.

Other gems from Luke:

  • It’s becoming cheaper to include wifi capability in a new product than to leave it out.
  • Mobile Design Tip: Since mobile users tend to do a lot of multitasking, “Design for users who use only 1 thumb and 1 eyeball.”
  • Don’t forget to consider a smartphone’s landscape orientation capability (i.e., its ability to know when it is being tilted) when thinking of ways to improve the user experience. You can even let a user change the phone’s orientation — tilt it on its side — rather than tapping/clicking to get more information.

Interested in using QR codes? Here are a couple of great tips from Kelly Flowers of Growthvine:

  • If you’re creating QR codes, use a URL shortener for the landing page URL. The longer your landing page URL, the more detailed/dense/complex your QR code has to be, and therefore the larger it will need to be displayed to be understandable. (Shoutout to Kelly Flowers of Growthvine for this suggestion.)
  • If your organization has a social community, consider placing QR codes on attendee badges (back or front) that will link the reader directly to that attendee’s profile page in the member community.

One of my favorite presentations was a 5-minute gem by Reggie Henry, head of technology for ASAE. Reggie loves his iPad and wants tech people to start thinking differently about mobile access/delivery/experience:

  • The iPad “is the first real personal computer we’ve ever had because people really do use it for personal reasons.” (I just love this insight. A nice twist that brings back the meaning of the word “personal” in a way we haven’t thought of with PCs for a long time.)
  • “We have new tools … tools like you’ve never had before. But to make use of them, we really have to change our mindset.”

Those are just a few of my take-aways today. I didn’t actually focus on mobile all day long; I attended other sessions as well. But these mobile insights really captured me.

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