Wovax For Schools

October 10th 2014 in Blog, Wovax

The best products are the ones that help people. Those are the products what we create at Wovax. We want to help companies, blogs, and organizations. And some of the the most important organizations in our world are schools. A dilemma we often find with schools is the lack of a proper website. They’re often old or free and don’t offer the tools that are needed to keep parents, teachers, and students connected and up-to-date on events and announcements.

As we began talking with schools and getting them set up with their own app, we noticed another dilemma – many schools don’t even have a website. And it was never because they didn’t want one. A majority of the time, hiring someone to build their website was cost-prohibitive and time consuming.

Not everyone needs the same one-size-fits-all product. Some schools only needed the app. Others wanted a website too. So we built them their very own WordPress-powered websites. As we introduce Wovax for Schools, we are also introducing different plans so that you have the freedom to choose what works for you, your students, and their parents.

The mobile apps we build work on both iOS and Android which means these apps aren’t limited to just smartphones. They’ll work on tablets such as the iPad and Samsung Note and on music devices like the iPod Touch. Anything that runs iOS or Android, so students who don’t have smartphones yet can also read and receive updates like everyone else. Our app framework also allows secure access to web-based student information systems such as PowerSchool.

Schools build our future. The smoother they run, the better experience they will be for everyone involved. Wovax is proud to be helping schools as they transition into a new age of communications technology.

Transactive Memory and Mobile Web

October 8th 2014 in Blog, The Web

Remember when you were a kid in school and every time you went to look something up your teacher would chide you? Maybe they told you that’s not how the world works; you won’t be able to just look something up whenever you want! Well, your teacher was wrong. And now more than ever.

We’re pretty good at retaining information on our own. But as soon as our ancestors developed ways to record information they embraced it and consequently expanded our ability to think. Recording information doesn’t only give you a way to store it, but also gives others the ability to access it. And we’ve gone from campfire stories to cave paintings to scrolls to books to tapes to digital storage.

This is the natural progression of a concept called transactive memory, a term that was coined in 1985 by social psychologist Daniel Wegner. Transactive memory posits that when you are part of a social group – as small as a household or as large as a culture – you take part in a think tank of sorts. As you talk to your family, friends, and colleagues you not only exchange ideas and information but also take note of who knows what.

Wovax WordPress mobile apps transactive memory

Left: An example of transactive memory. Right: An example of transactive memory.

Transactive memory is powerful because it encourages connection to others while maintaining independent memories and ideas. Even when you don’t remember the specifics of some information, you can recall who to talk to in order to retrieve it. Whether it’s in books or blogs, every record made by a person is an extension of their own mind and thus any interaction with it would count as transactive memory.

As our methods for storing information advance, transactive memory becomes greater in scope. Smartphones and other mobile devices represent a new step in transactive memory. They function the same way as a library (a common and established form of transactive memory), but aren’t limited by physical space beyond their pocket-sized profile.

You can experience the thoughts and ideas of others in the forms of podcasts and blogs from anywhere you have a network connection. And with the work of groups such as the non-profit Media Development Investment Fund working on making free global wifi a reality through projects like Outernet, you’ll soon never be in a place where you can’t access a network. For some that may sound like overkill. But to us, being able to summon a library out of thin air in the middle of an ocean or on the top of a mountain sounds incredible. The applications are even life-saving; people in countries with oppressive regimes would be able to visit the unrestricted web in safety.

The rapid expansion of the transactive memory network will continue as mobile web continues to be people’s primary form of internet use. At Wovax, we’re excited to be a part of countless transactions for ideas, memories, and information.

Wovax WordPress mobile apps transactive memory

All of this. All the time. Everywhere. Srsly.

Tablet Sales: Why Are They Down?

October 2nd 2014 in Blog

New things are always greeted with uncertainty. When the first iPad came out, it was met with skepticism. Apple’s original iMac in 1998 was widely criticized for its controversial exclusion of a floppy disk drive. And while some critiques were legitimate – the original iPad had issues with multitasking – these were ironed out and forgotten almost immediately in subsequent versions. But every year there seems to be a kind of schadenfreude at work in much of the criticism leveled towards big tech companies.

Up until a few weeks ago, I worked as a sales guy at an Apple reseller. Every day the whining I heard far outweighed the legitimate criticism. What’s the difference? The difference between whining and legitimate criticism is that one of them offers a solution. Whining does nothing but let you pretend like you’re smarter than the guy who runs a multi-billion dollar company. It got to the point where my stock response to “why won’t [x] do [very specific thing]?” became “because that’s not how it was designed.”

“This is terrible. I could design something so much better!”

Oh. Okay. Good for you…? Why don’t you go ahead and do that. And then get back to me.

Wovax wordpress mobile apps tablet sales

Because these guys clearly didn’t know what they were doing.

So what does this have to do with the title of the article?

Tablet sales started climbing pretty quickly a couple of years ago. And almost as soon as they started to spike, they started to drop. And right on time, the parade of people who keep buying these products began all over again. “How can tablets be replacing computers? The tablet was just a fad! It will never replace computers.”

Mobile usage is at an all time high. Tablet sales spiked and then went down. How often do you buy a new computer? Maybe every three to five years? If tablets are the new computers, people are going to be holding onto them for a longer time. Tablet sales went down because they’re settling in. They aren’t the exciting new kid on the block anymore. Tablets are becoming a regular part of the tech world and adopting a product cycle similar to what they are replacing: the desktop computer.

We’re living in a time of incredible innovation. And because of it, the tech consumer has been spoiled rotten. We got to see innovations like smartphones and tablets for the first time and now we’ve come to expect a completely new toy every time Apple or Samsung or Nokia or whoever updates a product line. But you can’t have innovation every year. There needs to be time to let the innovations sink in and become a part of the landscape. There has to be a period of adaptation and evolution before you start at the top again.

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True innovation at work. Get to it, Apple.

True innovation is rare. That doesn’t mean everything coming out in the meantime is worthless junk. Even the iPhone is an adaption of Alexander Graham Bell’s original 1876 classic. But here’s the truth; there are about ten billion people who think they’re innovating right now. Go check out Kickstarter sometime. Don’t get me wrong – I love Kickstarter. There’s some fantastic projects that have gotten steam there. But if innovation was so easy that any Joe Shmoe armchair critic could do it, wouldn’t Kickstarter be full of genius? Innovation can certainly come cheap, but it doesn’t come easy. If it did, Kickstarter would have sent us to Mars by now.

Another Apple store anecdote: people would come in and make the rounds, checking out the devices with their hands clasped behind their backs and their chins just slightly raised while they surveyed the spoils of Cupertino.

“Anything I can help help you find?” I’d ask.

“Nope…I already own all this stuff. Just waiting for something new.”

“What sorts of things do you still need the ability to do?”

“Oh, everything works great. I just want them to make something cool again. I’ll tell ya what, if they don’t soon, I’m done with Apple. They’ve just gotten so lazy…”

No, they just don’t feel the need to feed your greed for owning the coolest new gadget on the block every six months. Not every new product is going to rock the tech world to its very core. And that’s okay.

Wovax wordpress mobile apps iPhone apple table sales

“What a piece of crap.”

There’s a great scene in the movie The Incredibles where the dad bemoans the state of a world that treats a graduation from third to fourth grade like a completion of high school or college. He’s pointing out that small accomplishments are important but when they get just as much fanfare and attention as the big game-changers, it gives us a jaded world were there is no “down” button on the volume. Everything is an amped-up keynote that’s constantly blaring. And if it’s not the BEST THING EVER then it just sucks.

After a ton of hype, the Apple Watch just came out and of course there’s the same guffawing again. It’s worth noting that until the last week or so before release, Apple didn’t hype it beyond the normal “oh we’re working on something neat.” Tech bloggers and Reddit users built themselves into such a frenzy that nothing was going to meet their expectations. And because whatever they imagined in their heads was so much better (unfeasible) nothing is going to please them.

So why are tablet sales down? They’re down because they’re normal now. And that’s how it should be.

Advertising Isn’t A Naughty Word

September 30th 2014 in Blog, Wovax

One of the most important features of a website is the advertising. If you’re a website owner you’re probably nodding your head in agreement as you fill up your golden bathtub with fat stacks of cash. If you fall on the visitor side of things you’re probably updating your AdBlocker as you cackle madly while leaving websites crashing and burning with unpaid server bills in your wake.

Advertising is kind of a sticky subject. On the one hand, it can be incredibly obnoxious. Watching a thirty second ad for a forty-five second YouTube video isn’t too fun. But on the practical hand, advertising is the lifeblood of just about any business. Whether you’re hosting or buying, you’re likely on at least one side of the ad game. And it’s not a new byproduct of the modern age. Soap operas got their name because of the household products that would present the shows. Even the Roman gladiators had sponsors.

Wovax WordPress Mobile App Company Gladiator Advertising

“DRINK RED BULL!”

Finding a balance is tricky, but when executed properly, advertising is advantageous to everyone. I hate seeing a website that’s slathered in ads just as much as the next person. But if it’s a few well-placed ads that use my data responsibly to target me specifically, I’m okay with that. If I’m looking to buy a new camera lens and my browser cookie are telling advertisers, “hey he’s looking for this kind of product” and I see lots of ads with things I’d like to buy anyway, it can actually be helpful. I might see a deal or website that I hadn’t noticed before.

Advertising can be most effective when it offers itself as an all-around positive experience. With that attitude, it rewards everyone. The greatest advertising will be more than just a billboard. That’s why everyone loves Super Bowl ads. Commercials of that quality are so top-notch because they know that no one is going to talk or care about a glorified Power Point presentation. Instead they craft pieces of entertainment that people will enjoy so much they’ll share them with their friends the way they would a Saturday Night Live skit.

Wovax WordPress Mobile Apps Advertising Goodyear blimp

Everyone knows what this is. Smart advertising at work.

As satirical and dystopian as it may sound, many ad campaigns have become a part of our national pop culture. Not because they strong-armed their way in, but because smart advertisers gave consumers something they could interact with and enjoy. Consumers enjoyed those ads and did the rest of the work. And now the Planters peanut, the Energizer bunny, the Geico lizard, and Ronald McDonald are all characters who have taken their place next to the likes of Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse, and Yoda. Even certain brands like Coca-Cola and Ford have taken on the same characterizations that an American might attribute to “baseball and apple pie.”

Wovax WordPress Mobile Apps Advertising Santa Claus Coca-cola

Here’s a twofer. Also, Santa is a jerk.

Of course there can be a certain cynicism in watching an ad. No matter how high the production values are, no matter how many heartstrings it pulls, it’s really about the money, isn’t it? Well, yes. If you run a business, you need to make money. But you have to get the word out somehow, so why not make that word look and sound as good as possible? Why not take the chance to make something that your target audience will enjoy? One of my absolute favorite ads of all time is Chrysler’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial with Eminem. I know it was made to sell cars and rebrand a company that was under a lot of scrutiny for their recent financial troubles. But it’s sincere. It sends a message about hard work and perseverance that rings true. And I respect that.

Advertising can be funny, personal, sad, or exciting. It can be a great way to tell a small story in a minute or two. People aren’t stupid. We all know why ads exist. But potential customers will respond better to a company that rewards their attention and puts in effort to getting their business.

Case in point about ads: this post is an ad. But if you’ve gotten this far you (probably) enjoyed reading it. Yes, I’m getting paid to write this and it’s designed to draw attention to our services. But this is a topic I actually care about and find interesting. And maybe now you’re thinking about it too.

We support ads in our app framework. Remember when we talked about how cluttered a desktop site gets on a mobile device? With too many ads, it’s easy for them to get shoved around and rearranged. Wovax gives you control over the ads in your app and supports ads from just about any ad service out there so that when you go mobile, you can keep business going as usual. And we’re taking our own advice by getting ready to launch our own commercials: so keep an eye out!

Push Notifications or Email?

September 23rd 2014 in Blog

Email is of course a standard feature for smartphones and tablets. But if you want to be truly effective in reaching your readers and customers, push notifications are the way to go. Emails pile up. They get clogged in spam filters. They’re easy to lose track of in the deep dark depths of your inbox. And email just isn’t the best choice for getting time-sensitive material out into the wild. You could send out an email that contains information about a one day sale that doesn’t get read until it’s too late for the customer to take action.

Push notifications give you the power to immediately alert your readers. And because push notifications show up on the screens for people’s mobile devices, the information you want them to have is instantly received. 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of being delivered, and push notifications show up in the same way.

Wovax WordPress Mobile app Push Notifications

If you’re a business such a restaurant, you can let people know about those great new lunch specials from 12-3. For a school, you can alert parents to pertinent information such as a last-minute schedule change for sports practice or even a snow day. Maybe you have a food truck and you want to let people know where you’ll be setting up shop for the evening. And of course, if you’re a blogger, you can notify fans that a new post is live.

At Wovax our apps are built to work seamlessly with WordPress push notifications. So whatever your business may be, you can be sure that people will stay informed of it. And they’ll choose to do it in the most efficient way possible – through push notifications.

Wovax WordPress Mobile app Push Notifications

Those New iPhone Sizes and Wovax

September 22nd 2014 in Apple

There’s been a fair amount of controversy in the tech world around Apple’s new iPhone sizes but over at Wovax we’re pretty excited about them. And now that we’ve had a chance to play with both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, we thought we’d say a few words about the design of the phones.

The phone pictured is the iPhone 6 and at 4.7″ the screen size isn’t too radically different from many other phones on the market (for comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was 4.8″). The rounded edges are a fantastic grip and make it even easier to hold as you don’t have sharper edges digging into your fingertips. The power button has also shifted to the right side of the phone rather than the top right, making it easier to access with the larger width.

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Where the phone really shines aesthetically is the screen itself. When people say that iPhone screens are still getting clearer and sharper, you look at your current iPhone and think “really? Cause this one is pretty durn good.” The pixels per inch (ppi) are the same as the iPhone 5s at 326 ppi but the bump in screen size really gives the HD display a chance to pop. And it definitely pops in a way that the 4″ models weren’t quite able to.

IMG_0565

The iPhone 6 Plus is probably too big for many consumers as the 5.5″ screen size would make it kind of a sporting event to hold all the time. But while holding it I was surprised at how sleek it felt. The thin body and rounded edges make it feel much smaller than it actually is. The screen glass on both models is also rounded at the edge, providing a seamless transition into the side of the device.

At Wovax we’re excited about the way our apps already look on these new screens and are going to be optimizing the app framework to take full advantage of the new sizes.

wovax apple iPhone iPhone 6 wordpress mobile app

Wovax’s blog app running on an iPad Air, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5.

Apple Just Killed the Phone: And That’s Great!

September 10th 2014 in Apple, Blog

Part of what drives people in their decision to purchase a phone is the screen size. A frequent criticism that has been directed at Apple’s smartphone lineup is the lack of a “phablet” size. Of course that changed yesterday when Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus which respectively come in at a diagonal screen measurement of 4.7 and 5.5 inches. For comparison, the most recent iPhone models are the 5, 5s, and 5c which come in at 4 inches; the 4s and all previous iterations were 3.5 inches.

iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus smartphone phone Woväx

Of course, many Android smartphones such as the Samsung Note 4 have been boasting screens as large as 5.7 inches. And that’s where the criticisms have been pouring in. Why won’t Apple give us bigger screens? Everyone else has been doing it for years now! But Apple’s apprehension at jumping into the phablet market is understandable, and not necessarily for fear that they would be seen as copycats or trying to keep up with a passing fad. The push for larger smartphone screens is part of the change in how we compute. And once Apple realized that this change wasn’t a fad and would drive people to larger devices for good was when they embraced and adopted it.

Samsung Note 4 Wovax smartphone phone

The Samsung Note 4 which actually comes with a stylus.

We’ve talked about our mobile devices becoming an integral part of how we communicate and stay updated via the web. But it’s not always practical to have a tablet with you, as portable as they are. And a slim screen will only get you so far if you need to get some serious work done on the go; the limitations can definitely become frustrating.

Using myself as an example, I honestly didn’t have much interest in a larger phone screen. The 4-inch has been great for me and it gets the the job done. But since I’ve started working here at Wovax my mobile needs have changed. Part of my job in updating our social networks is monitoring them away from the office which means that I’ll be writing more on my phone than I ever have before; and I’m not really into hauling my iPad around town all the time (although I am enjoying using it to write up this post in a coffee shop). The biggest 5.5″ screen size isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but it will definitely have its fair share of users. And as people in general get used to larger phone screens, they’ll become more ubiquitous as a whole.

I’ve always used the term “pocket computers” to jokingly refer to devices such as smartphones and iPod Touches as a way to point out how insanely mind-blowing it really is that we have these useful devices on our persons all the time. But as the screen sizes increase and the processors get more and more powerful, this term is becoming reality. And now that all the major smartphone manufacturers are on the same playing field, it’s official: the phone is dead. What you now have is a portable computer that also calls people. It isn’t too far off to imagine that soon the iPhone could be completely rebranded as a product without “phone” in the name.

With these larger screen sizes comes a unique opportunity for us at Wovax. As was displayed in the Apple Keynote yesterday, the iPhone 6 will have a similar UI design to the iPad, and even features that are reminiscent of the desktop, such as displaying the dock on the side of the screen. Wovax is excited to begin development on updates that will allow our apps to work seamlessly with the extra screen space these new phones offer.

And yes, there will be soon be things cooking up over here for the Apple Watch as well!

Apple Watch Wovax mobile app wordpress smartwatch

Before you go be sure to check out our recently launched Wovax app in the App Store so you can stay updated with all of our blog posts!

Your Website Sucks: A Case for Mobile Apps

September 4th 2014 in Blog, The Web

Let’s say that you own a restaurant. And one day this review pops up on Yelp.

First of all the dining room was a total mess, like someone had set off a land mine in a plate of spaghetti. Half the tables were on their side and the ones that were upright had crookedly placed dishes all over them like they had just been chucked across the room. After hunting around I found a chair that wasn’t completely disgusting and sat down. I’d been here so many times but after getting my smartphone, things just haven’t been the same. 

There was crud on the table and a small piece of paper that looked like it was a shred of menu. And then I realized it was the menu. It was so tiny, like a menu for ants! I couldn’t read anything. I pulled out a magnifying glass (I used to be a boy scout, so I’m always prepared!) and that made it a little better. The waiters were really disorganized so I had to go back to the kitchen to order. I mean, they seemed really polite and nice but I wouldn’t know because they never talked to me. They just don’t seem to have their act together anymore. But here’s the weirdest part; the food was fantastic, just like always! It hasn’t changed. Heck, it might even be a little better. But this place is just…so off now. How could they let this happen? Furthermore…what happened? I’ll give them another chance, but if this is what my experience is going to be like from now on I will regrettably have to take my business elsewhere.

You would probably be a bit peeved. The key to keeping a business open is goodwill and customer loyalty. This poor guy seems to be running out of both. And while the scenario seems ridiculous, it’s not far from showing what a website is like that doesn’t cater to mobile users. In 2014, a time where a new phone is a masive media event that gets people lined up around the block weeks in advance, not having a mobile app for a website is quite frankly just as ridiculous as those lines.

Mobile app service Wovax WordPress

“I do say chappie, the pub down the way procured a mobile app nearly six months ago! What the devil is holding you lot up?”

Why do we use the web? We use it to find information. And every single one of the zillions of informative websites out there provides a service. That’s the key word here. Service. You serve your readers, and in doing so it is your responsibility to give them the best experience possible.

It’s easy for any kind of business, be it an online enterprise or a brick-and-mortar deal, to fall into the trap of believing that as long as their content or product is prime they don’t need to put effort into the structure of how that product is delivered. “We have the best DIY website out there; why should I give a hoot about how my site looks on mobile? People like the articles so they’ll keep reading it anyway!” Yeah, guess what? They won’t. There are 5 million other websites out there about the exact same thing. Give them a good reason to stay loyal to you.

If you run a website then you are in the service industry. And while your content is the star of the show, if the rest of the production isn’t up to snuff, people will pick up on that and drift away. People know when they’re not wanted and your website’s design clues them in.

Imagine going to this same restaurant again. But now everything is set in order. Furniture is upright, surfaces are clean, menus are large and legible. The waitstaff even goes out of their way to make your experience last after you’ve left. “Hey we’re setting up a system to let you know when we’re having specials on burgers! Would you like to sign up?” A mobile app provides not only the same level of service, but can make it even more personal than a sedentary desktop site is able to.

Wovax WordPress Mobile app

This is your website on Wovax.
Photo by Alan Light

You thrive because of your customers’ loyalty. And the second you take them for granted is the second they will find someone who does appreciate them. Do you have a website? Cool. You’re in the service business. And if you haven’t adapted to mobile web yet then your customers are receiving severe disservice. If you have WordPress, get a WordPress mobile app. Whatever you do, be sure that when your customers are guests in your business, you respect their patronage by letting them see you at your very best.

Coworking: Is it Right For You?

September 1st 2014 in Blog

Coworking’s identity comes from the variety of people that it draws. But just as the seductive glow of Silicon Valley and Hollywood draws its share of confused wanderers, so does the coworking space to both ambitious and non-ambitious alike.

In looking at coworking spaces both successful and now defunct, the common thread that can be traced to the cohesion or unraveling of an establishment is the workspace’s culture. It’s honestly a somewhat uncomfortable topic to bring up because it can seemingly have a tone of “you’re not cool enough to play with us.” That is probably true in a space that’s all for show and only wants to cash in on the zeitgeist of the concept. But in a space like MosCoWork, it’s a preventative measure for both parties. 

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The culture that MosCoWork encourages is creative and laid-back professionalism. People who make things and encourage others as they do the same. If you’re a lawyer or loan officer, then this isn’t the place for you. And please don’t take that offensively. We love lawyers and loan officers (seriously!) but this wouldn’t be a place you’d be very happy with in the long run. Tech startups and creatives aren’t the quietest people. 

In a place like this, the energy and excitement is shared. And while we expect everyone to use common sense in not bugging each other every two minutes, we also don’t want someone who comes in expecting a Cone of Silence to be included with their desk membership. 

The coworking spaces that don’t make it are the ones where members keep their heads down and don’t interact with anyone else. There’s nothing wrong with that style of working. It just isn’t the coworking method. When you pay for a spot in a coworking space, you aren’t just buying into space for yourself. You’re paying for the entire experience of being in a hustling environment that will nurture you and your ideas as well as expecting the same in return. Healthy competition is great in its own way but far too often do entrepreneurs and creatives get caught up in a rat race of trying to be the biggest one in the room. And no one likes that guy.

If you decide that coworking could be a good fit for you, this is the mindset that will help you and those around you succeed: we’re all in this together.

MosCoWork Moscow Idaho Coworking Wovax