The State of Mobile User Experience

The State of Mobile User Experience
By Charles Pascal

Summary: Ten years from the original iPhone, the field of mobile UX has finally reached maturity.

The original iPhone was released in June 2007. In late 2009, when ABCO Technology wrote the research for the first article of our mobile report, most people still had primitive mobile devices with horrible user experience. At the time, anything that was half-way decent was a pleasant experience compared with the misery caused by most mobile devices and most mobile sites.

Three years ago, when the second article of the mobile report came out, we did a thorough evaluation of the state of mobile usability. At the time, we were happy to report that mobile usability was no longer an oxymoron— and we finally saw many sites and apps with decent usability. With the new third 2018 article of our mobile-UX research report, we continue to see progress.

Today, most mobile sites and applications offer a good user experience. There are still the occasional glitches and sacrifices of usability in favor of aesthetics, but we can confidently say that the field has progressed in the past two years since the last article. Most of the egregious errors are not there anymore. When we tried to update the examples for many of our mobile guidelines, we discovered that the companies had fixed their problems and some of the issues that we discussed were no longer common. Yet we also encountered revivals of problems we thought almost extinct two years ago. In the business of usability, mistakes (like trends) tend to be cyclic: one generation identifies them and creates design patterns that avoid them, but later generations, no longer having witnessed the UX problem, make the same error again in their quest for refreshed designs. It’s always two steps forward and one step backward.

Content vs. Chrome

The importance of prioritizing content over UI elements (that is, chrome) was one of the lessons learned from responsive design. The hamburger-menutrend was a consequence of that lesson: designers were trying to minimize the number of UI elements visible on the screen because these took away precious content space. Two years later, designers continue to value the screen real estate on mobile devices — but they’ve reached measure in hiding the chrome. A break has been put on the hamburger trend. It’s still very widespread (as we argue elsewhere, hidden navigation is the only option for some sites), but many have understood that it should not be used if a better pattern (such as a visible navigation bar) is available.

Prioritizing content over chrome has trickled in other design areas: for instance, we no longer see results pages headed by fat filters that occupy half the page. Or, the nested-doll pattern, which involved having users make a sequence of selections through multiple pages before encountering content, is no longer as popular as it used to be. At least some companies have started to understand that it’s better to flatten the navigation structure on mobile: show people a variety of content right away and allow them to later narrow it down to a specific category of interest.

Walgreens.com used the nested-doll navigation pattern, which used to be popular in the past but is becoming less widespread. It required users to make 4 category selections before they could see any products. However, Walgreens tried to create the illusion of content by adding product images to the some of the category-selection pages, which suggests that designers were likely aware of the tedium of this category-based design.

#Google Express for iPhone: Instead of listing all the subcategories under Grocery, a few items were displayed under each. Instead of using a category-based design where users had to decide among different categories, the app rightly used a content-based design.

Use of Gestures

Gestures solve the problem of too much chrome on a too small screen, but they are notoriously hard to discover and learn. Some of the original gesture enthusiasm (embodied by gesture-only apps such as Clear Todos) has dampened down, but gesture use is still one of the more promising directions in mobile design.

Clear Todos for iPhone, whose first version appeared around 2012, used a variety of gestures to compensate for the lack of visual interface elements. These gestures were hard to remember.

Unfortunately, gestures are a chicken-and-egg problem: they won’t become easy to learn and use until a standard vocabulary of gestures used across apps and websites is built, and all applications and websites use these gestures consistently. But, on the other hand, designers are forced to stay away from gestures because they have so little familiarity among their user base.

Apple has had multiple attempts to expand the standard vocabulary of gestures (with the introduction of 3D Touch for iPhone 6S) and to delegate some of the visible chrome to gestures. Their attempts have culminated with the iPhone X — which got rid of the iPhone’s only physical button to replace it with a series of swipe gestures. The result has been a more effective use of the screen at the expense of some initial learning hurdles for people used with the old Home button.

#3D Touch was a promising direction, but it is still relatively rarely used by applications. However, two other (old) gestures are increasing in popularity to the point of being added to that basic gesture vocabulary: the swipe-to-delete for exposing some contextual actions including delete, and the two-finger scroll for moving around a map embedded on a webpage. While the swipe-to-delete simply adds a convenient way to perform contextual actions on a list element, the two-finger scroll solves the problem of swipe ambiguity, often encountered when maps are embedded in web pages. These gestures are becoming more and more familiar to users, although we still recommend that designs which use them add other redundant ways to perform the same actions or at least have good contextual tips to guide users.

The two-finger scroll gesture is becoming a standard for map scrolling and solves the problem of swipe ambiguity (where users attempt to scroll the page and accidentally scroll the map or viceversa).

Better Integration Between the Mobile Web and the App Web

Transitioning from the web to an app used to require a specific user action: on iOS, people had to explicitly choose to open an app and then perform a search inside it. From iOS 9 on, it’s become possible to easily transition between the mobile web and the app web— if I search for a movie in a search engine, some of the search results will seamlessly open corresponding application pages (when users have these applications installed).

When a link to a movie on the search-results page was selected, the control moved from Safari to the iMDb app. The Back-to-appbutton was displayed in the top left corner of the status bar and was labeled with the name of the previously used app (Safari).

This seamless transition from browser to app, or, more generally, from one app to the next ensures that the experience of consuming content is optimal — because, most often, applications will have a better user experience than sites(simply because they are closer to the mobile platform for which they were designed).

Unfortunately, with this design we also see a new burden placed on users: that of keeping track of where they are and knowing how to navigate back. Applications still have to accommodate that need — for example, we still notice that many apps (like iMDb above) do not include logos on their deep pages, which makes it more difficult for users to orient themselves in this new expanded app-plus-web universe.

A notable improvement, possibly related to the increased ease of switching from browser to app, has been a lower number of interstitial app ads. (Almost) gone are the days when navigating to a new site was preceded by an interstitial inviting the user to download the app. Most of the time, the app is simply advertised in a banner at the top of a web page.

Better Use of Phone Features

Although not perfect, more and more sites and apps take advantage of basic phone functionality. Checking out on many ecommerce sites has become a breeze due to integrated systems like Apple Pay and Android Pay. And most sites and apps take into account the user’s current location. Biometric authentication promises to get us closer from the problem of remembering passwords, and can even make desktop login easier by allowing users to easily transfer information (and thus automatically log in) across devices.

When setting up a new iPhone, there was no need to type in credentials to authenticate: they were automatically transferred from a nearby device.

Fewer Tutorials: Stagnation

A few years ago, any respectable app started with a lengthy tutorial that catalogued all the different features available in the app. These tutorials were at worst annoying and at best ineffective — no user could remember the plethora of commands listed in a lengthy tutorial. Nor were they motivated to remember any of them — after all, who could say in advance what features would be actually useful?

Today, those tutorials have been largely replaced with general overviews of the apps, meant to convince the user to go beyond the login walland create an account. Ideally, these login walls should disappear completely and users should be able to experience the app without having to register at all. The initial app overviews play the function of an ad — and most people hate to have to sit through an ad, especially if they’ve already spent the effort to download the app.

Steps Backward

Although overall the responsive-design trend has been a positive influence, the quest for building across multiple interaction modalities has pushed some towards strange solutions like using a split-button for menus or accordions. The intent behind the split-buttonmenu is to replicate desktop’s hover-plus-click interaction for categories in the main navigation — that is, to allow access both to a category landing page and to a submenu. Yet it is a highly unusable solution — not only because it crams two targets in a small space and makes the job of acquiring each of them more difficult for human fingers, but also because it violates users’ expectations and the mobile patterns that they have learned so far.

Another somewhat surprising development has been the disappearance of guest checkout. Sites and apps that used to offer this functionality in the past have eliminated it — some rely on Check out with Apple Payor Check out with PayPalto compensate for the lack of guest checkout. But many still force users to create an account although they may be one-time purchasers. On the plus side, registration has been simplified in many designs — it is fairly common nowadays to be asked only for an email and a password in order to create an account.

The popularity of the overlay has increased, with many sites implementing menus as overlays. Two years ago, many mobile overlays were buggy and created funny effects (such as content behind the overlay suddenly appearing on top of it). Today’s overlays are much better. But they often look like full pages, and people treat them as such — expecting to be able to use the Backbutton to close them and navigate back to the previous view. Often, they get disoriented when that does not happen and instead they are spit out of the site. When an entire flow is moved in overlays (as it is the case with the increasingly popular sequential menus), the opportunity for errors increases even more, with people forgetting to use the menu’s Back button to ensure correct navigation in the overlay and instead using the browser or the phone’s Backbutton.

LATimes.com: The menu was displayed in an overlay that looked like a new page (left). In spite of the Closebutton in the top left corner, people will still be tempted to tap the browser’s Backbutton to close the overlay. If they did so, they would be taken to the previously visited page (the search-engine page — right) instead of to the LA Times homepage.

Conclusion

Ten years from the first iPhone, the field of mobile user experience has finally reached a reasonable level of maturity. It was about time — according to a recent report by comScore, in many parts of the world, more than half of the online time is spent on mobile. So it’s only right that mobile usability catches up with desktop usability. It doesn’t mean that mobile sites and apps have reached a state of usability perfection: there’s no such thing as a perfect design. It simply means that a lot of them offer a decent user experience, and that many flagrant errors of the past have been fixed.

ABCO Technology teaches a comprehensive course for E-commerce. Call our technical college campus today. You can reach us between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Build highly successful webpages today!

Google’s assistant competes with Amazon

Amazon Echo and its voice assistant, Alexa, might be the current market leaders in voice-activated smart technology, but recent announcements from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show have shown that Google fully intends to challenge Amazon for that crown.

The past few days have seen some big developments – and a couple of even bigger teasers – for the future of Google’s smart assistant, the imaginatively-named Assistant.

On Tuesday, the first day of CES 2018, Google published a post to its official blog announcing partnerships with more than a dozen electronics companies to produce Google Assistant smart speakers – some with a very significant upgrade.

The blog post also highlighted the breadth and depth of “Actions”, the name given to built-in apps and integrations for the Google Assistant. At the same time, Search Console users began receiving notifications that their podcast, recipe and news content was eligible to be included in a new “Actions directory”, which is being rolled out over the next few days.

This appears to be part of an increased focus on what can be accomplished with Assistant, shifting its emphasis from finding information (Google’s long-time speciality) to carrying out tasks.

There’s a lot of news to unpack, so let’s look at what exactly these developments involve, and what they mean for SEOs and the wider industry.

SEOs using structured data are first to the Google Assistant party

While a comparatively smaller development than the flashy revelations of major electronics partnerships and smart displays, Google’s introduction of native support for podcasts, recipes and news to the Assistant is nevertheless big news for SEOs.

I owe a hat tip to Aaron Bradley of SEO Skeptic, whose post to the Semantic Search Marketing Google+ group first tipped me off to this development. In turn, he was tipped off by SEO consultant Dan Shure, who tweeted about a Google Search Console alert he’d received inviting him to “improve discovery” of his podcast in the Google Assistant

Google is gradually rolling out a browsable directory of Actions for the Google Assistant, allowing users to more easily discover what the Assistant is capable of.

Podcasts, recipes and news will be the first wave of content added to this directory – though only content published with AMP, or marked up with structured data such as Schema.org, will be getting the nod.

This means that webmasters and SEOs who have been marking up their content with structured data are already ahead of the curve in making that content available via voice – while those who haven’t must hop on the structured data (or AMP) bandwagon if they want to be eligible.

Structured data has long been touted by its fans as a great way to get search engines to better surface content from your site, particularly in the form of things like rich snippets or Quick Answers. But it can be time-consuming to add and maintain, and the immediate benefit isn’t always so obvious.

This new use case, however, shows that there is a huge potential advantage to “future-proofing” your website by adding structured data markup. If Google continues to make Assistant a primary focus going forward, then this could be the key to content optimization and discovery in a voice-driven world.

Hey, Google – look what I can do!

As discussed, Google is clearly keen to shift the focus of its voice capabilities away from information discovery towards actions.

To this end, it’s heavily promoting “Hey, Google” as the slogan for the Google Assistant, placing it in huge letters on top of its CES installation, and creating a #HeyGoogle Twitter hashtag (complete with a unique Assistant emoji) to accompany their Assistant-related updates.

But wait, you might be thinking – isn’t “OK Google” the wake phrase for the Assistant?

Yes, Google has been a bit unclear on this point, but it seems that “Hey, Google” has been an alternative wake phrase for the Assistant for a while now. In late 2016, the website Android Police reported that the Google Home responds to both “OK Google” and “Hey, Google”, but Google voice search (e.g. on mobile) responds only to “OK Google” – making it possible to differentiate if you have multiple devices within earshot.

Now, as Google moves its focus away from search and towards actions, “OK Google” is out and “Hey, Google” is in.

#ABCO #Technology teaches E-commerce courses in its web design program. Voice search is powerful and you need to get onboard with it now! Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Get started marking your pages for voice search today!

#Amazon Echo and its voice assistant, Alexa, might be the current market leaders in voice-activated smart technology, but recent announcements from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show have shown that Google fully intends to challenge Amazon for that crown.

The past few days have seen some big developments – and a couple of even bigger teasers – for the future of Google’s smart assistant, the imaginatively-named Assistant.

On Tuesday, the first day of #CES 2018, Google published a post to its official blog announcing partnerships with more than a dozen electronics companies to produce Google Assistant smart speakers – some with a very significant upgrade.

The blog post also highlighted the breadth and depth of “Actions”, the name given to built-in apps and integrations for the Google Assistant. At the same time, Search Console users began receiving notifications that their podcast, recipe and news content was eligible to be included in a new “Actions directory”, which is being rolled out over the next few days.

This appears to be part of an increased focus on what can be accomplished with Assistant, shifting its emphasis from finding information (Google’s long-time speciality) to carrying out tasks.

There’s a lot of news to unpack, so let’s look at what exactly these developments involve, and what they mean for SEOs and the wider industry.

#SEOs using structured data are first to the Google Assistant party

While a comparatively smaller development than the flashy revelations of major electronics partnerships and smart displays, Google’s introduction of native support for podcasts, recipes and news to the Assistant is nevertheless big news for SEOs.

I owe a hat tip to Aaron Bradley of SEO Skeptic, whose post to the Semantic Search Marketing Google+ group first tipped me off to this development. In turn, he was tipped off by SEO consultant Dan Shure, who tweeted about a Google Search Console alert he’d received inviting him to “improve discovery” of his podcast in the Google Assistant

Google is gradually rolling out a browsable directory of Actions for the Google Assistant, allowing users to more easily discover what the Assistant is capable of.

Podcasts, recipes and news will be the first wave of content added to this directory – though only content published with AMP, or marked up with structured data such as Schema.org, will be getting the nod.

This means that webmasters and SEOs who have been marking up their content with structured data are already ahead of the curve in making that content available via voice – while those who haven’t must hop on the structured data (or AMP) bandwagon if they want to be eligible.

Structured data has long been touted by its fans as a great way to get search engines to better surface content from your site, particularly in the form of things like rich snippets or Quick Answers. But it can be time-consuming to add and maintain, and the immediate benefit isn’t always so obvious.

This new use case, however, shows that there is a huge potential advantage to “future-proofing” your website by adding structured data markup. If Google continues to make Assistant a primary focus going forward, then this could be the key to content optimization and discovery in a voice-driven world.

Hey, Google – look what I can do!

As discussed, Google is clearly keen to shift the focus of its voice capabilities away from information discovery towards actions.

To this end, it’s heavily promoting “Hey, Google” as the slogan for the Google Assistant, placing it in huge letters on top of its CES installation, and creating a #HeyGoogle Twitter hashtag (complete with a unique Assistant emoji) to accompany their Assistant-related updates.

But wait, you might be thinking – isn’t “OK Google” the wake phrase for the Assistant?

Yes, Google has been a bit unclear on this point, but it seems that “Hey, Google” has been an alternative wake phrase for the Assistant for a while now. In late 2016, the website Android Police reported that the Google Home responds to both “OK Google” and “Hey, Google”, but Google voice search (e.g. on mobile) responds only to “OK Google” – making it possible to differentiate if you have multiple devices within earshot.

Now, as Google moves its focus away from search and towards actions, “OK Google” is out and “Hey, Google” is in.

ABCO Technology teaches E-commerce courses in its web design program. Voice search is powerful and you need to get onboard with it now! Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Get started marking your pages for voice search today!

Top tips for voice search and mobile usage

Voice search and mobile usage are both on the rise and look set to shape the SEO industry for some time to come. Nonetheless, 62% of marketers have no specific plans for voice search in 2018.

How can marketers take action today to tap into two of the most important trends in the industry?

As mobile usage continues to grow, more and more users are comfortable with speaking to their devices rather than typing their queries.

Of equal importance are the advances in speech recognition technology that have allowed the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple to offer a satisfying voice search experience.

There is plentiful context to make marketers aware of these emerging trends, with both mobile and voice search set to shape the future of the industry:

◾Voice-enabled personal assistants are installed by default on all smartphones

◾Google has revealed that more than 20% of searches on an Android device are voice searches

◾The Amazon Alexa app recently topped the app store charts. The Google Home app occupied second position

◾The Amazon Echo was once again the best-selling item on Amazon this holiday season

◾Speech recognition accuracy is now north of 95% for all of the major technology providers

◾Google’s mobile-first indexis rolling out and will soon be applied to all sites

◾comScore predicts that 50% of all searches will be by voice in 2020.

Though the two are not perfectly aligned, there is a clear correlation between the growth of voice search and the ongoing rise of mobile.

As the Internet of Things takes off, voice will be one of the most important unifying factors across all hardware. Whether at home, in the car, or at work, there will always be a voice-enabled device close to hand.

And yet, a recent study by BrightEdgereported that 62% of marketers are unlikely to implement a specific strategy for voice search over the next 12 months.

This is not due to a lack of awareness of the trend, but rather a lack of direction when it comes to preparing for its implications.

In a clear indication of how significant the shift to voice-based searches will be, Google recently released a new set of Search Quality Rating Guidelines for the Google Assistant.

Though specific to the Google Assistant, we can safely assume that the same rules and objectives underpin the functioning of other digital assistants too.

As such, this document can prove both illuminating and instructive as we look to move beyond the hype that voice search brings and arrive at some tips to direct our mobile SEOefforts.

The findings in Google’s official guidelines for voice search evaluation, along with the best practices we already have for mobile SEO, can help us create a hybrid set of tips to improve any site’s chances of ranking in this new landscape.

This begins with some technical considerations, then moves on to a more nuanced understanding of how consumers are using voice to interact with their devices. Finally, we must create the right content to fit our target contexts, and find a way to measure our progress.

Technical SEO for mobile devices

As with so many aspects of SEO, crawlability is the foundation upon which a mobile SEO strategy for voice search must be built.

Put simply, if a search engine cannot access and understand your content, your chances of appearing in search results are slim. This as always been important, but it takes on a new level of significance when viewed through the lens of voice search.

Often, voice search removes the traditional search engine results page (SERP) and instead aims to provide one answer in response to a query. This is a search engine’s first port of call; it is only when one answer cannot conclusively answer the query that a more traditional list of results will be displayed.

Fortunately, there are some guidelines we can follow to increase the likelihood of our content ranking via voice search:

◾Schema markup: By adding schema markup, we can help to add structure to our website’s data. For example, we can alert search engines to elements that relate to events, prices, and people – among many others. When a search engine is trying to locate a response to a voice search, this extra information can prove invaluable.

◾XML sitemaps: Having a clearly structure sitemap that can be navigated easily both by people and by search engines will increase the likelihood that your information can be sourced quickly in response to a query.

◾Site structure: The structure of a website should mirror the journeys that users typically take when considering and making a purchase. For example, faceted navigation on an ecommerce site should aim to match common query strings.

◾Carry out a mobile SEO audit: Before embarking on any of the more innovative aspects of voice search, conduct a full mobile SEO site audit to ensure that you are in a solid position.

◾It is also worth reviewing the basics of mobile SEO to keep in mind the distinctions that set it apart from traditional SEO.

Understanding context

All language is contextual. The exact same query, at surface level, can in fact mean many different things based on how, when, where, and by whom it is said.

This is not a new discovery, but it is only recently that search engines have been able to understand the context of a query.

In part, this has been due to more sophisticated algorithms like Google’s Hummingbird update, which brought the concept of semantic searchto life.

However, the biggest source of contextual information is the smartphone. Our phones are constantly sending and receiving data, all of which can be processed to comprehend our past, present, and even our future behaviors.

Now, when a user searches for a term like [canon cameras], a search engine can use smartphone data to understand the implied intent of the query:

cameras

This implicit intent, now known to a search engine, can help to shape and personalize the results that the user sees.

There are other effects of this deeper understanding.

Varied queries can ultimately express the same underlying intent. For example:

sunny

The expression of the response may differ, but all variations are ultimately answering the same question. The user wants to know what the weather will be like tomorrow.

This is helpful, as it allows us to see that we don’t need to answer every single possible query that is out there. Many guides on voice SEO suggest creating FAQ pages as a way to grow traffic, but this seems a stop-gap solution when we can do better. SEO needs to move away from creating “SEO pages” on websites that serve no real purpose other than to attract organic search clicks.

Thus far, our industry has focused mainly on what has been said by searchers. We pull a list of keywords with search volumes, difficulty scores and so on, and we map those to our pages. Where a page does not exist for a group of keywords, we create one.

A further level of nuance can be added by segmenting the keywords by purchase stage: informational, navigational or transactional, for example. These can also be categorized as ‘Know’, ‘Go’, and ‘Do’ moments.

That is useful, but it is overly simplistic. What we often end up with is a comforting illusion; a spreadsheet that smooths over the rough edges to provide a digestible view of what people search for, cell by cell.

Reality does not fit so readily into neat compartments.

In a presentationgiven last year, Tom Anthony of Distilled mapped out what the new ecosystem looks like, based on the huge amount of data a smartphone both sends and receives:

tom_anthony

Even this is a reduction, but it does at least provide insight into the broader picture.

What this means is that when working on a mobile SEO strategy, we should identify the contexts in which our content could rank.

These contexts can be strung together to create a map of the typical user journey.

This can be informed by demographic data, as there are telling differences between the generations. In particular, we should note that younger generations are more comfortable with voice search and use it in very different situations to their older counterparts.

voice_search_today

Stone Temple Consulting produced an excellent, in-depth study that goes further still to segment this data by income. voice search seo incomeSource: Stone Temple Consulting

What we find through this report is that there are notable variations at every level of analysis. By location, gender, device, income level, and age, we find that people use voice search differently.

Marketers would do well to perform research of their own to pinpoint the right contexts for their business to target, through qualitative research and quantitative analysis.

Creating the right content at the right time

Once we have plotted out the potential contexts in which we could communicate with our audience, we need to create the content that will hopefully help us rank via voice search.

Though this is a nascent field, there are already some useful studies that can guide us in this process.

Voice queries tend to be longer, due to their closer relationship to natural speech patterns. This provides a significant amount of data for us to analyze, compared with the shorter queries we have grown accustomed to.

Where once we had to infer a consumer’s intent based on feedback signals (click-through rate, bounce rate, conversion rate), we can now start this process much earlier.

We should also bear in mind the anticipated input-output relationship between the consumer and the device. For example, a spoken query that prompts a spoken response will need to be fed by content that is clear, concise, and conclusive.

Google’s Research Blogoffers the following areas for assessment when it comes to this kind of voice search:

◾Information Satisfaction: the content of the answer should meet the information needs of the user.

◾Length: when a displayed answer is too long, users can quickly scan it visually and locate the relevant information. For voice answers, that is not possible. It is much more important to ensure that we provide a helpful amount of information, hopefully not too much or too little. Some of our previous work is currently in use for identifying the most relevant fragments of answers.

◾Formulation: it is much easier to understand a badly formulated written answer than an ungrammatical spoken answer, so more care has to be placed in ensuring grammatical correctness.

◾Elocution: spoken answers must have proper pronunciation and prosody. Improvements in text-to-speech generation, such as WaveNet and Tacotron 2, are quickly reducing the gap with human performance.

This insight should flow directly into the site experience. If we know which task our consumer is trying to complete, we can make this process and seamless and as painless as possible.

There are some points that apply to any site aiming to create content for voice search:

◾Remember that a voice search is only the start of the user journey. If your mobile site experience does not match the user’s intent, they will complete the journey elsewhere. Use a user-agent switcher or a site like http://mobiletest.me/to see how your mobile experience matches up.

◾Create content that responds to the most common conversational queries. Provide clear information that can easily be picked up by a search engine as it tries to provide one, true answer for each voice query. Tools like Answer the Publicare useful for this task, but try to assimilate this information naturally into your content rather than creating a host of FAQ pages.

◾Map this content to a logical site hierarchy that is crawlable for search engines and useful for consumers.

◾Google is preparing to add voice queries to Search Console, so we will soon be able to assess and track our voice search performance.

Given that voice searches on a mobile device are frequently completed on the go, it should not be surprising that users often want help with navigation.

Interestingly, the growth in the number of ‘near me’ searches has slowed as people have come to expect Google to understand this implied intent.

Google uses its own Maps product to respond to these queries, so we can optimize our own Maps listings to help search engines and people to navigate better. There are a few tips to keep in mind when working on a voice search strategy for local SEO:

◾Ensure that names, addresses and phone numbers are accurate across all locations.

◾Consider using a specialist platform to manage your local listings and monitor your local search performance. There is a growing range of mobile SEO tools that can help with these tasks.

◾Make it easy for consumers to act on their intentions. This means adding in clear calls to action and directions to further information.

What’s next for search?

It is important to understand Google’s vision for the future of search.

The technology has improved dramatically, but it is still some distance from fulfilling the ambitions of Google and Amazon. When this technology reaches its potential, there may be no need for a query at all, as the digital assistant will be able to pre-empt our actions.

For now, marketers need to assist the assistants in the manner outlined above.

In essence, technology is enabling behaviors that have their basis in pre-existing states of intent. The industry is growing in complexity, but simultaneously it is developing into a more realistic representation of how people want to search.

Through better understanding of both people and technology, marketers can create a voice search strategy that will stand the test of time.

ABCO Technology teaches an excellent course for the Certified Webmaster, which includes search engine optimization. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Build successful voice search webpages today!

New breakthroughs in cyber security by Polyverse will create new jobs for programmers and network administrators.

The “WannaCry” virus, which took down, among others, the National Health Services’ computer network in the United Kingdom last May, was formally labeled a North Korean plot by the U.S. last month. Lost in the foreign intrigue were some basic questions. Why had computer administrators in the U.K. and elsewhere not applied the software fix issued by Microsoft months earlier to protect the vulnerable Windows software? Or was the U.S.’s National Security Agency partly to blame for stockpiling malicious code?

Perhaps most important, why hadn’t billions of dollars worth of computer security gear from leading cyber protection companies such as Cisco Systems (ticker: CSCO), FireEye (FEYE), Palo Alto Networks (PANW), and Symantec (SYMC) foiled the attacks?

Not too surprisingly, the founders of a three-year-old cyber security start-up called Polyverse are convinced their new system “would have completely prevented WannaCry,” says Alex Gounares, the company’s CEO.

The chief technologist of Microsoft’s (MSFT) online unit back in the 2000s, Gounares—who was Bill Gates’ personal technology advisor—says the hackers’ success relied on a simple asymmetry: It costs far less to attack a computer system than it does to protect one. Existing systems build the equivalent of walls and moats around a castle, the so-called firewall that sniffs out intruders and tries to block access. The defenders must guess where they might be attacked and try to anticipate every possibility. It’s a costly and never-ending process.

The problem is that attackers can spend all the time they want studying the situation, looking for holes or ways to get around the protections. If anything, new discoveries have made it easier for hackers far less sophisticated than WannaCry’s creators to take control of a computer.

Polyverse, which has gotten good reviews for its fledgling system, tries to shift the balance of economic power back to the defenders. By replacing the basic instructions inside a computer program with alternate instructions, Polyverse keeps scrambling the code. Doors and windows familiar to hackers disappear quickly, raising the stakes—both on speed and spending—for attackers.

“Dollar for dollar, offense has been winning,” despite billions spent on computer defense, says Bryan Smith, who worked for six years at the National Security Agency and now runs a tech incubator called Bantam Technologies. “Polyverse actually does switch the advantage back to the defender.”

If #Polyverse or a rival does succeed, it will mark the latest shift in the decades-long war for control of computer networks. A computer operates via a series of instructions written by a programmer telling the microprocessor, the brains, to carry out one basic function over and over. That function is to take some values stored in its memory circuits, to perform an operation on them, such as addition, and stick the result back in memory. A hacker tries to gain control of a computer by replacing the programmer’s series of instructions with his own, either changing the operations specified or sometimes changing where in memory the chip fetches and stores values.

One of the last big strategic shifts in the war came in 2007, when a computer scientist named Hovav Shacham showed it was possible to use a computer’s own code against it without injecting new code. Code is a long string of ones and zeros, and the computer chip only knows the instructions by knowing how to divide the ones and zeros into the right sequence of bits that make up each successive instruction. But Shacham realized he could direct the chip to divide the ones and zeros differently, thus changing the instructions.

To complicate hackers’ task, Gounares, 46, conjured ways for them to find not the traditional string of instructions, but a completely different set. Polyverse’s technology is what’s called a binary scrambler. It mixes up the ones and zeros of a program but lets the users’ tasks be completed undisturbed. The exercise turns the attackers’ own game against them, employing different instructions before the attacker can.

AT MICROSOFT, Gounares was well aware of the common complaint that Windows was a “monoculture,” a uniform system that attracted a mass following of developers but also armies of attackers aware of the software’s vulnerabilities. At Gates’ famous retreats to contemplate high-level software issues, the two would occasionally discuss using epidemiology, or the study of the spread of disease, as a guide.

Gounares, who is fond of nerdy references, poses the question, “Why hasn’t the earth been taken over by the zombie apocalypse?” The answer is because human DNA varies enough that no diseases can spread so far they devastate the entire population. But software is like DNA that’s uniform: It can be compromised because it’s reliably the same.

The solution was to create “entropy,” as he puts it—a divergence in the code so that every computer has unique sequences of instructions running through it. Polyverse’s product to date has been for scrambling the Linux operating system. Later this year, it will offer a version that can scramble the entire Windows operating system and programs that run on Windows, says Gounares. Some customers have been given the Windows version to test.

POLYVERSE IS A VERY small company with a promising idea. Funded with just $6 million in private capital, the Seattle-area entity has less than $10 million in annual sales, though Gounares pledges that will rise into the tens of millions over the course of the next 12 months. That’s compared with roughly $2 billion annually in security-related revenue for Cisco, the biggest publicly traded cyber security vendor.

To be sure, Polyverse is not the only company to have thought of what’s known as “moving target defense.” The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Labs has a rich literature on the subject. But researchers there found problems cropping up: Either the scrambling is limited, leaving avenues of attack, or the scrambled programs degrade in performance.

“We have taken this from an academic approach to an industrial-strength system,” insists Gounares. Polyverse scrambles all the parts of a program, not just some, he says, and without affecting the performance a user experiences.

Steven Potter, a former Navy SEAL who heads sales, sees the military as a key market for Polyverse. There are U.S. weapons systems running on versions of Windows no longer supported by Microsoft. To rip and replace, as they say, those computer systems to make them safer can run into billions of dollars. Hence, a Polyverse sale can be an economical option for government, notes Potter, who served as a contractor in Afghanistan ensuring cargo was safe for the war effort. The firm has already won several military contracts.

Potter, however, becomes most animated when discussing the possibilities offered by the weakness of existing cyber companies. “Where the disruption comes from,” says Potter, “is that with the Palo Alto’s, and the FireEyes, and Symantecs, you can literally take a class and for $1,000, you can hack through any known firewall on the planet.”

Cisco, FireEye, and Symantec declined to comment, while Palo Alto did not return my calls last week.

With the publicity and questions that accompany each new WannaCry-like cyber disruption, Polyverse’s opportunity grows. The system of walls and moats just might be giving this company a great opening.

ABCO Technology offers a complete program for cyber security. Cyber security jobs in Los Angeles are exploding. If you are interested in a career in this exciting field, contact ABCO Technology.

You can reach us by telephone from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through
Friday at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at: 11222 South La Cienega Blvd. STE #588

Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Cyber security jobs will expand through 2030 says the US Department of Labor. Start your new career today!

Poor website performance is hurting your business

Poor website performance is one of the most widespread problems for business websites, yet it’s the most essential one hurting your company on many levels, from lost customers to a bad online reputation.

These easy-to-use tools will help you solve the problem.

Despite what some people may think, site speed is not a purely technical issue. Marketers have been talking about the necessity to speed up your page load for ages. Not only does poor page load time hurt your site usability, but it also hinders your rankings (by devistating your page engagement metrics), conversions, social media marketing campaign performance and so on.

Fixing the page load time issue is not that simple. It does take a strong development budget and good diagnostics tools. Luckily, I can help you with the latter:

Page Speed Insights

Google’s Page Speed Insights measures your page speed and provides Page Speed suggestions to make your web site faster.

page speed

The Page Speed Score ranges from 0 to 100 points. A score of 85 or above means your page speed is optimal. The tool distinguishes two main criteria: How fast your page above-the-fold loads and how fast the whole page loads. Each page is tested for mobile and desktop experience separately.

Each Page Speed suggestion is rated based on how important it is.

Pingdom

Pingdom monitors your site and reports if your site seems slow or down. It operates a network of over 60 servers to test your website from all over the world, which is very important for a global business website because your server location effects in which parts of the world your site reports well.

Pingdom also has a free tool you can test here. While Pingdom is mostly known as Uptime monitoring solution (you can read about Uptime here), it also does performance monitoring.

Because I monitor a lot of metrics for many websites, I use Cyfe to integrate Pingdom stats into my website monitoring dashboard:

cyfe

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache turns your dynamic WordPress blog pages into static HTML files for the majority of your users. This way your web server serves static files instead of processing the heavier WordPress PHP scripts.

This plugin will help your server cope with traffic spikes. It makes the pages faster to load, and stops those traffic overloads from happening in the case of a viral hit.

If you operate a huge database-driven website, a better solution for you would be setting up a content delivery network.

Incapsula

Speaking of your website being slow in remote parts of the world, Incapsula is a set of premium tools helping you to solve that problem. The platform offers a reliable Content Delivery Network, i.e. a network of servers all over the world allowing your site visitors to load files from the server located closer to them.

This means your site is fast wherever your future customers choose to load it from.

If you want to know more about how CDN works, here’s a very good resource to read and bookmark.

cdn-for-your-wordpress-blog-infographic

Compressor.io

Compressor.io is a handy tool to optimize your image size to allow for faster page load. As most web pages have images these days, this is a must-bookmark and use tool.

Compressor.io reduces the size of your images while maintaining a high quality. You’ll be surprised to find no difference in your images before and after compression.

The tool supports the following image formats: .jpg, .png, .gif, .svg. I have found it invaluable to animated GIF compression because all the tools I use produce really huge images.

compress

The tool is absolutely free and there’s no need to register to use it. Your files will be stored on the servers for 6 hours and then deleted, so don’t forget to download your optimized images!

If you want to learn how to optimize your website for search engines, call ABCO Technology. We can be reached from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday. Call us today at: (310) 216-3067.

Email all questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Start building search engine optimized websites today!

CompTIA Security + Information

CompTIA’s Security+ is a well-respected, vendor-neutral security certification. Security+ credential holders are recognized as possessing superior technical skills, broad knowledge and expertise in multiple security-related disciplines.

While Security+ is an entry-level certification, successful candidates should possess at least six months of experience working in the areas of network administration and network security. Candidates who want to obtain this certification should consider first obtaining both the A+ and Network+ certification. IT pros who obtain the certificate possess expertise in areas such as threat management, cryptography, identity management, security systems, security risk identification and mitigation, network access control, and security infrastructure. The CompTIA Security+ credential is also approved by the U.S. Department of Defense to meet Directive 8140.-M requirements.

The Security+ credential requires a single exam, currently priced at $311 (discounts may apply to those who work for CompTIA member companies, and to full-time students).

IT professionals who earned the Security+ cert prior to Jan. 1, 2011 remain certified for life. Those who certify after that date must renew the certification every three years to stay current. To renew, candidates are required to pass the most current Security+ exam, pass a higher-level CompTIA exam or complete 50 continuing education units (CEUs) prior to the expiration of the three-year period. CEUs can be obtained by engaging in a variety of activities, such as teaching, blogging, publishing articles or white papers, and participating in professional conferences and similar activities.

Job Outlook for CompTIA Security +

The US Department of Labor states job candidates who have a certification in cyber security, which includes the CompTIA Security + will experience job growth, which is 15% ahead of regular information technology positions in the industry. Organizations large and small are looking for network administration candidates who have a cyber security certification.

The CompTIA Security + certificate informs potential employers that you have the skills to protect their network.
ABCO Technology teaches a comprehensive program for cyber security. One of the courses in this program is the CompTIA Security +. Our next class for CompTIA Security + begins on October 24, 2017.

If you want to obtain a fulfilling career in cyber security, it’s time for you to contact ABCO Technology to receive more information about this cyber security career opportunity. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us by telephone at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can successfully qualify for the funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304
Cyber security is a growing field, get trained and certified today!

Cyber Security, your Pizza orders aren’t safe

Pizza Hut’s customers had their online accounts compromised.
Cybercrime is growing at such a rapid rate, even companies selling products as safe as pizza are under cyber-attack. The increase in cybercrime to this level continues to create more cyber security jobs.

Pizza Hut told customers by email on Saturday that some of their personal information may have been compromised. Some of those customers are angry that it took almost two weeks for the fast food chain to notify them.

According to a customer notice emailed from the pizza chain, those who placed an order on its website or mobile app between the morning of Oct. 1 and midday Oct. 2 might have had their information exposed.

The “temporary security intrusion” lasted for about 28 hours, the notice said, and it’s believed that names, billing ZIP codes, delivery addresses, email addresses and payment card information — meaning account number, expiration date and CVV numbers — were compromised. Would you like to be that special person who saved your company from a devastating cyber-attack?

A cyber-attack of this level could only occur if the network administrators didn’t use or have the correct cyber security skills.
The media fails to report that most cyber-attacks occur over time. Before the attacker intruded into Pizza Huts network, a great deal of time was spent in making login attempts, port scanning, analyzing for network weaknesses and stealing passwords. The activity could have been detected if the company had the right tools in place. The fact Pizza Hut was attacked for 28 hours clearly demonstrates someone in cyber security failed to do their job. You could be the network administrator who picks up where those cyber admins left off.

The skills we are talking about in this article involve cyber security. Courses including CompTIA Security +, Certified Ethical Hacker, Linux Fundamentals and Cisco Certified Network Associate will create a library of cyber skills, which will help any network administrator implement cyber security policies.

A thorough understanding of the computer and network servers is also required for this job. The network administrator must think of any network as an electronic eco system. Maintaining such a mindset will go a long way towards preventing the type of cyber-attack, which occurred at Pizza Hut.

If you want to have an exciting career in cyber security, please contact ABCO Technology. Reaching our Los Angeles campus is easy. We are available by telephone from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday at: (310) 216-3067.

Email all questions to info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at: 11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304.

Cyber security is a growing field in information technology. Train for a cyber security position today!

Cyber security, what CMOs need to know

What do CMOs need to know about cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a fundamental consideration for all organizations operating in today’s connected and data-driven world. While all who work across your business – from the IT department, to the PR team and beyond – need to understand the fundamentals of cybersecurity, CMOs have a special responsibility as leaders to ensure they are mitigating risk and are prepared in the event of a possible breach. Here are five things CMOs need to know.

1. Vulnerabilities

In business, CMOs are perhaps some of the best placed when it comes to understanding the global reach of an organization. This is of particular importance when it comes to cybersecurity, as the growing popularity of globally-connected technologies – such as cloud storage and mobile sharing – bring with them increased points of potential vulnerability.

This is a key concern for the CMO, as they are custodians of potentially massive amounts of customer data. Recent security breaches at companies like Yahoo, Deloitte and Equifax have massively damaging implications – both in terms of revenue and brand trust.

CMOs need to be aware of the proliferation of connected technologies across the organization in order to fully understand where possible breaches might happen.

2. Threats

Understanding potential vulnerabilities is one step; acknowledging actual threats is another.

Businesses need to be prepared for increasingly sophisticated and globally organized attackers. Vulnerabilities can give hackers access to confidential business information, as well as lead to theft of personal information of staff and customers.

It is the last threat which is perhaps the most important to be prepared for. The breakdown of trust between organization and customer is the most damaging to business and brand image going forward.

CMOs also need to acknowledge theft of information in the digital realm is not the only threat. Connected IoT devices can also allow hackers to potentially gain access in the physical space such as buildings and vehicles.

3. Prevention

CMOs need to be clear as to how such cybersecurity breaches can be prevented.

They need to collaborate with those across other business departments in ensuring there are clear organization-wide guidelines for security best practice – including keeping apps and software up-to-date, changing passwords regularly and educating team members about phishing scams.

It is essential that CMOs champion these activities within their team, and ensure policies, training and enforcement are up-to-date. Working closely with the local governments is a good way to standardize practices to match those in the wider business community – and to ensure compliance.

For businesses with European connections, GDPR provides a good opportunity to review data best practices.

4. Action

A keen understanding of the above and the most stringent prevention techniques will never make an organization completely immune from cybersecurity breaches.

CMOs can use data and speculation tools to plan action in post-breach scenarios. Again, preparedness for action is key – and collaboration between CMOs and all other business teams are the best way to ensure the correct action takes place if cybersecurity is undermined.

5. Communication

All staff need to understand the importance of cybersecurity – but CMOs can help ensure that knowledge is shared. Collaborations tools help streamline this process by providing channels for any team to communicate.

If a cybersecurity breach has already happened, synergy among C-suite, security, IT and public relations teams is critical. CMOs must have answers to the questions like: What are your best practice communications strategies with customers? Is information about the breach easy to find for worried consumers?

In the event of a cybersecurity breach, businesses need to be clear in their external communications – clarifying exactly what data was exposed and making users aware of worst-case scenarios.

Takeaways

When it comes to cybersecurity, no organization can be 100% protected from breaches. All staff members need to clear on the above five areas, and CMOs have a unique position in being able to lead planning and education within the business to ensure all teams can work quickly and efficiently if the worst happens.

It is the responsibility of the CMO to ensure customers are protected and that they are first to know should such a breach occur. Collaboration and communication is key during such situations – to ensure trust is maintained, information is accessible and order is restored as soon as possible.

ABCO Technology teaches a comprehensive program for cyber security. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday at: (310) 216-3067.
Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for funding.
ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304.
Get trained and certified for cyber security today!

Equifax Cyber Security breach hearing October 3

Washington DC. The former CEO of Equifax, Richard Smith is testifying before congress today sitting on the hot seat. Members of the congress and senate from both parties are grilling Mr. Smith with respect to the Equifax cyber-attack.

Senator ELIZABETH Warren spent time forcing Mr. Smith to explain why the company hadn’t updated its security software. The senator also wanted to know why the company failed to act after suspicious activity was discovered in consumer sections of their site six months before the cyber breach occurred? Congress was extremely upset about the fact several officers of Equifax sold shares of their stock ahead of the public when facts about the Equifax cyber breach became known to officials of the company six weeks before that news was revealed.

The officers who sold stock in advance of the public release made a nice profit on their sale of securities.
It was just revealed that Richard Smith, Equifax’s former CEO delayed informing the company’s board of directors about the cyber-attack for at least three weeks after he learned of the cyber penetration. Several members of congress emphasize that both the technology and personnel exist to prevent such a cyberattack from occurring.

The technology and personnel exist in the field of cyber security. Intrusion prevention and detection devices are available and ready for installation. Many network professionals are not trained in the proper use of these devices. Cyber security is a field of information technology, which fixes this problem.

Courses including the CompTIA Security +, Cisco CCNA, Cisco Security, Certified Ethical hacker, Certified Information Systems Securities Professional, Linux Fundamentals and a thorough understanding of network servers will go a long way towards training network professionals in the use of cyber security protection devices. Job recruiters are on the lookout for network administrators who possess cyber security skills and certifications.
The work environment is focusing on security because of the events, which have occurred over the past five years.

ABCO Technology offers a powerful Cyber Security program, which will prepare you to compete successfully in the cyber security field. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us by phone at: (310) 216-3067.
Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for the federal funding.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu
ABCO Technology is located at 11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304
Join a field of information technology professionals who are in demand today!

Computer Repair jobs, the Excellent Network entry-level position

We constantly receive this question from new students. They all want to know the best entry-level position in the information technology industry with respect to networking?

The answer or job is in the occupation of computer repair. Let’s look at this concept for a moment.

Computers always break down in some form. Most breakdowns are in the form of computer hardware, software or the operating system in general. Viruses, incompatible software or improper connections are usually the major problems most users will encounter. The key question is whose around to fix these things when stuff goes wrong? The answer is the person who knows how to repair computers and handle operating systems. This magic individual is usually certified as a computer repair technician by a vender neutral certifier known as CompTIA.
CompTIA has a certification known as the CompTIA A+, which will teach students how to repair computers, install printers, configure plus install operating systems, a bit of cyber security and how to configure small networks. The CompTIA A+ is the best certification for any individual who wants to enter the information technology field in the fields of networking or cyber security.

Organizations both large and small will hire a new employee and assign tasks of computer repair. Entering a company as a computer repair specialist often provides opportunities for promotion. Many of our students have been hired as computer repair or desktop support specialists. After several months on the job the new employee is promoted to a higher position within the company.

The average course for CompTIA A+ is usually completed in less than five weeks. Students completing the A+ course will be required to pass two CompTIA certification exams, which consists of hardware and operating systems. Once certified, the door is opened for many employment opportunities.

ABCO Technology offers a complete program for networking, cyber security and information technology. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach our campus at: (310) 216-3067.

Email all questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304.
Join the information technology field today!

×