Apple Pay Development

Digital-Wallet-Just like how your office has gone (mostly) paperless, your wallet may soon go ‘plasticless’ as well. Slowly but surely, credit cards and IDs are being replaced by apps. Of course, like the paperless movement, this migration will likely be a slower process than advertised. That said, innovations such as Apple Pay are paving the way assertively.

Apple Pay is essentially a digital wallet. The application stores your credit card data and can be accessed with a touch, utilizing fingerprint Touch ID. You can send payments, check your private data, or even simply flash your phone across an Apple Pay enabled checkout reader. You’ll even be able to use your Touch ID fingerprint to pay within apps. The video below provides some great visual examples.

Passbooks, an app that stores tickets, coupons, boarding passes and essentially any items with a barcode, is a helpful tool in its own right. Seamlessly adding Apple Pay’s functionalities with those offered by Passbooks’ makes for quite a package of services. Indeed, these offerings, taken together, open the door to leaving the home without the wallet.

Of course, there are two major drawbacks to a digital wallet. The first concern of these concerns is the issue of limited battery life. But this problem may be mitigated sooner than expected due to some amazing new innovations that will allow your cell phone battery to charge in three minutes or less. And, if reports are accurate, this new battery will help your phone hold its charge longer as well.

Ok, great. It’s convenient. But what about security, the second major drawback to consider.

Apple Pay uses tokenization, which essentially replaces your actual credit card number with a randomly generated number every time you use it at a new retail or online establishment. That new number can be configured to expire after one transaction or made specific to a certain type of transaction (like Uber fares, let’s say). Which means that when data breaches occur like the ones Target and Home Depot experienced recently, you’re safe. There’s no credit card info to steal and reuse.

This also removes a huge burden from sellers – and developers :).  Since a person’s credit card number never even enter a POS or online payment system, they don’t have to worry about storing credit card info–which can potentially be hacked and stolen. It still won’t be perfect, but instances during which you feel the need for a physical wallet may be less common than we’d expect.

In short, it’s not at all unreasonable to look at Apple Pay as a major step towards the future of transactional commerce. It might not be long before we add our physical wallets to the long list of ‘items replaced by our cell phone’. This transition is going to be interesting to watch. And there will continue to be hiccups along the way. But developers will continue to prove that we can safely walk out the door with only a cell phone weighing down our pockets (or purses).

Maybe our keys are next?

The Gamification Effect

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Can our web browsing and web-based tools be a game?

Yes.

In fact, more and more websites and applications are intentionally built like a game. These sites and tools are designed to foster engagement; not unlike a puzzle, they push you towards a ‘next piece’ or a ‘next step’. At it’s broadest definition, a game only requires a set goal (and achieving that goal should, ideally, involve an engaging experience) That the ‘gamification’ of our web-based activity is purposely built to be easy and intuitive is beside the point: we’re successfully convinced to play.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled: Free Sandwiches. In this post I considered the many amazing innovations in web-based marketing. Most of these innovations were examples of ‘gamification’ in practice. Much like frequent flyer points accrued with an airline, a digital means of tracking dollars spent at a specific store (as these dollars work towards some form of reward, such as a free sandwich) is a perfect example of the gamification of web-based activity.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the gamification of our web activity isn’t an inherently unhealthy development. As web designers adopt the motivational and engagement-boosting tools discovered and exploited by game designers, worthwhile educational opportunities are opened up. Many of these opportunities can deliver enriching experiences. Day to day business activities can now become smoother, mutually-beneficial, and altogether more engaging processes. And one couldn’t even begin to list the number of ways gamification has already assisted educators.

In the field of education, gamified web-based tools often utilize the same teaching methods already found in textbooks. But these same tools can now reach new levels of engagement, not to mention unlimited scalability.

One example of gamification tools being put to great use is Treehouse; this organization uses rewards and goal tracking to teach web development techniques. There is no better means to learn how to build web-tools than a gamefied, reward-based training tool. Of course, this is a very specific example. Perhaps a better example comes in the form of web-based health tracking applications like MapMyRun. Who today doesn’t use similar applications when working towards goals? And these are just random, hand-picked examples. The point is that gamification techniques can clearly help us reach even our loftiest goals.

Indeed, there is no shortage of data to suggest that gamification techniques can inspire engagement. This infographic (from GIGYA) provides some enlightening information; this data illustrates why web developers continue to focus on gamification:

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But what about the drawbacks of a gamified web?

Gamification is often used to steal people’s attention away from more productive pursuits. This is becoming more and more of a problem most of us face daily. ‘Click-bait’ might be the ultimate example of these technics effectively wasting people’s time. The Onion’s latest venture (CLICKHOLE) is a hilariously spot-on example, satirizing how click bait captures attention and wastes a site user’s time by directing them to irreverent information. Even ‘reputable’ news sites are now cluttered with attention-grabbing links (after all, these organizations make much of their revenue off of your clicks. More than ever, quality of content is up to your own discretion!) As a result of this almost-impossible-to-ignore clutter, it’s easy to focus our attention on the negative side of these gamification techniques. But let’s not forget the impressive and helpful tools that these techniques are developing.

As always, we have to look past the clutter. Today, marketing agencies are often driving web development; they want you to play their game and to keep on clicking. But with some self-regulation, it’s easy to find these same gamification tools being put to great use. It’s true that the web has now made it all-too easy to become distracted. But it’s also never been easier (or more fun) to learn and accomplish new activities.

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UX Web Design (it’s simple)

User Experience (UX) web design is a redundant concept, really. Shouldn’t all web design be built with usability in mind? Of course it should. And shouldn’t all User Interface (UI) work factor into UX? Absolutely.

Put simply, UX web design was unique because, in testing towards end user experience, it considered elements of: psychology, persuasive design, user personas, and scenario building. The UX Web Design Process was once just one specific methodology in web development. But it is now the most standard build-out processes for web developers, including Gulo. UX-infographic To begin, UX developers build wireframes for a new website or web-based application. These wireframes are essentially a simple roadmap for how the site or app will look and function. They exist to help provide a visual narrative. Wireframes ensure that the web developer and the client are on the same page. These guides are not the foundation for the end product. Although wireframes can often be quite detailed, they are essentially just sketches; but they’re extremely valuable first drafts for just about any web development project.

After the wireframes are built to perfection, the UX Web Design Process can vary. The next step(s) depend on the conceptualization of the project, timetable, or any working needs for the client or web development agency. The common thread here is that this is when some iteration of the ‘testing’ stage begins.

For many projects, clickable prototypes can be helpful at this stage. A clickable prototype is a beta testing site, an interface with functionalities that can be used in the end product. A client can be taken through a number of examples to ensure that the the new project runs as smoothly as possible for its end users. Perhaps counterintutively, this testing stage of UX Web Design can actually be even more crucial than the beginning stages of a new project.

Indeed, the testing stage(s) is where communication is often most important. The client and the Web Developers must both have a crystal clear understanding of the mission this new web-based platform will be driving towards. Who will be using this project? Will there be multiple classes of users? Is important user data being captured? Is this project scalable? lean-ux-page-h-1024x791 There are no shortage of detail-rich models to follow when considering how a site will best service its mission (see example, directly above). But ultimately, what matters is that developers and clients have a deep understanding of the market the new product is serving, that users enjoy interacting with the product, and yes: that the product services the organization’s overlaying mission(s).

The UX Web Design Process has become an antiquated concept. It’s the industry standard. UX design is now simply the prism through which websites and web-based applications are conceptualized and, ultimately, built.