Posts filed under ‘egovernment’

European Parliament goes mobile – when to choose a mobile website over a native app

Earlier this month the European Parliament launched the mobile version of its ever popular (at least in the Brussels bubble) website. Hooray! Forgot the room number of the MEP you are meeting? Well now you can go on your mobile device and find it with ease.

In seeing the new site, we asked ourselves why an organisation would choose a mobile website rather than one of those trendy apps we spend far too much time (and money) downloading for our iPad/iPhones? Well, call us curious, but we decided to phone a friend far more knowledgeable than ourselves to find the answer. Gwen Foutz, SVP and Director of Mobile and Social Platforms in our Washington D.C. office and global co-chair of FH Mobile practice group happily picked up the phone. Here’s what she had to say.

What’s the difference between a native app and a mobile website?

A native application is an application designed and built for a specific operating system, e.g. iPhone iOS, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry, etc., that users download and install to their devices. A mobile website (or mobile web application) is essentially a mobile optimized website – a site designed specifically for the smaller screen and mobile context. Mobile websites are accessed through a URL and work across all web-enabled mobile devices.

Is there anything you can do with one that you can’t do with the other?

Mobile websites provide the best opportunity for a single platform to reach a majority of mobile devices with an enhanced experience, including lower-end devices not considered smartphones. Mobile websites can vary in complexity from static, information-based experiences to more robust, feature-based experiences similar to those of native applications.

Mobile apps provide the most feature-rich approach for mobile as they offer access to native device features such as GPS functionality and cameras. An app generates the highest level of engagement through an ideal mobile user experience that is tailored to the specific device it was built for. However, with the advancements that HTML5 has brought to the mobile space, the line between what is possible with mobile web vs. native apps continues to blur. More and more developers are building application-like experiences via the mobile web that can be accessed through the browser.

When would FH’s Digital Practice counsel an organisation to use one rather than the other?

We first ask the organization three critical questions before recommending a mobile solution:
1) Who is your target audience?
2) What are you trying to achieve with mobile and how does that fit with your overall business objectives?
3) How will you tell people about it?

Based on the organization’s goals and resources as well as audience research and insights, we may recommend an optimized mobile website, a native app, a text message campaign or all of the above.

Mobile optimized websites really should be seen as a starting point for most organizations before jumping into the mobile app space. Main company “.com” websites should be viewable and usable from any device, especially as mobile browsers become users’ primary browsers. Furthermore, mobile web provides the largest reach, regardless of the type of phone people are using and allows you to be found the same ways users find you on the desktop web (via direct URLs or search).

Native apps are recommended (as an addition to a mobile website) to serve a focused purpose that addresses a user need – usually in the form of providing utility or entertainment. Apps are chosen over mobile web when there is a need to offer robust functionality and features, such as those that are transactional in nature (e.g. shopping, banking), highly customizable or account-based services (e.g. photo tools, cooking/recipe assistants, travel tools), entertainment focused (e.g. streaming video and music, games) and those that are used frequently (e.g. social networking, mapping/navigation services).

What’s the easiest to develop, mobile website or app? Is the process very different?

Mobile websites typically require less overall effort to design and develop, and have a much larger reach than native apps alone. They are also easier to update and maintain once released, as updates can be pushed to all users at once and accessed via the browser, rather than a user having to download and install a new version.

Native apps have to be built platform by platform (i.e. iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc.) – there is no one size fits all – which requires a significant investment. Each version of the app across platforms can and should share similar user experience and design aspects, but ultimately will be built independently. Another factor is that apps have to be selected by the user, usually from an app store, which requires a significant investment in promotion and awareness-building to make people aware that it exists.

Is it common practice for public institutions to use mobile websites rather than apps?

Yes, it is fairly common for public institutions to provide mobile websites rather than apps. This is due to usually having limited development and promotional budgets and a desire to reach the widest audience possible. If the public institution desires to provide a more robust experience, they may go the native app route, but at the cost of reaching less people with their content.

Where can we find out more?

Check out these two posts from other FHers in the mobile space:

“Are You Really Ready for a Mobile App?” by Erick McNett, FH Kansas City

“There’s An App for That! Cutting Through the Clutter to Find the Best Branded Mobile Apps” by Radu Iancu, FH Cleveland

James

July 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm 2 comments

1st Worldwide Personal Democracy Meetup Day – 12 July – We’re in! What about you?

Last year we blogged about our cooperation with the Personal Democracy Forum folks. As you might know, the Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) is an online community and annual conference about the impact of technology on politics, government, and democracy. Next week our PdF friends are taking things to a whole new level. This time the conference is going global. On 12 July, PdF is organising the first Worldwide Personal Democracy Meetup Day. About 50 cities all around the world will have their own PdF meetup. All will tweet throughout the day using the hashtag #PdFmeetup. Exciting, isn’t it?

Meetups are informal gatherings in essence. That’s the beauty of it. It’s about getting strangers, who don’t know each other but share common interests, to meet in real life… thanks to the Internet. Created in 2001, meetup.com was a simple but revolutionary idea. It had a key role in the unprecedented grassroots mobilisation around the 2004 Howard Dean campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination -I highly recommend Joe Trippi’s inspiring The Revolution Will Not Be Televised– as it also did in Barack Obama’s campaign.

We are of course taking part and can’t wait for D-Day! One of the spokespeople of the Hungarian Presidency of the EU will join us to discuss how they used social media during their mandate. They tweeted, blogged, reached out to bloggers, and even gave accreditations to some of them to attend EU Council meetings. How did they manage to get their hierarchy on board? What are the lessons learnt? Will this show the way to other EU institutions?

You’re welcome to join us at our offices from 6.30pm. Just register on our meetup page so we know how many people would be attending. Our Brussels meetup is now ranked 3rd place in terms of attendees, just after New York City and Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is just a couple of attendees away… do you think you could help us reach 2nd place? How cool would that be? 😉

Laurence

July 8, 2011 at 11:08 am 1 comment

We’re tickled pink by Julien’s fish and mash-ups

An interesting post over on Julien Frisch’s blog who shows yet again how online tools out there for free can help all of us seeking to understand and explain the EU’s legislative processes – whether to clients or just because we are tickled pink by fishing regulations like  Julien.

It’s a pity that the Council’s website doesn’t allow one to follow the discussions from WP to COREPER to Council with links to documents attached as Julien has done. Alas, we’ve complained about the Council’s website before and no doubt will do so again. We also had a go at thinking on this blog about how these kind of tools can be put to use in public affairs to bring the local to Brussels. Worth a read if you’ve not already.

James

April 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Polling and its impact on public policy

An interesting piece on the impact of polling on public policy in the US from my colleague Jeff Weintraub on our Public Affairs blog that is worth checking out here.

In contrast, I am not sure we need an online poll to establish whether polling has a big impact on the outcomes of public policy decisions at an EU level. I’ve discussed the fact it isn’t used more in previous posts.

In any case, it is an interesting debate in an EU context. Should advocates and policymakers in this town be making more use of polling both in advocacy and in making their policy decisions?

I’d be interested in your views and indeed examples of where it has proved valuable/not valuable.

James

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October 21, 2009 at 12:37 pm 1 comment

The Down & Dirty of Digital Government

BBC
BBC via last.fm

The devil, they say, is in the detail and it is interesting how the debate on e-government is developing in the UK. This article from the BBC website talks about the move on from a starry-eyed reaction to Obama-esque digi-campaigning (or Election 2.0) to a practical, cost-driven desire to drive all access to government and government services online. It is this, they argue, more than anything which is driving Government pressure on suppliers to push broadband out to everyone. It may be exciting to exercise one’s democratic rights online, but it may be more useful to be able to get the bins emptied too.

Nick A

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October 14, 2009 at 5:29 pm 1 comment


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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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