ezTask Blog: All things technology!
Ready for the next big thing? Try Medium.
Aug 29 2012 - 02:05:00 pm
Merging the best qualities of several existing social media platforms (including Pinterest and elements of Facebook, and Twitter), Medium claims to be the next big thing online, helping users to organize their thoughts, likes, and musings into "collections". Check out this article to see what it's all about, and take a look at this infographic to see which "digital distractions" currently nab our attention most successfully.

Do you consider time on social media time wasted or time well spent? Which platform consumes most of your time online?
A New Standard in Video
Aug 22 2012 - 01:47:00 pm
If you've ever surfed around YouTube, Hulu, or any streaming video website, you understand the frustrations of buffering. It seems like you just can't get enough bandwidth to watch videos without interruption or delay! For this reason, we're thrilled about the arrival of HEVC, coming next year. It's a brand new, twice-as-efficient video standard to replace MPEG. Videos can be shared in half the time, or quality can be doubled. Can you imagine what this will mean for the internet when combined with the outrageous speeds of Google Fiber?

Check out the fascinating article from Gizmodo!
Fiber: Good for more than your belly!
Aug 15 2012 - 10:03:00 am
Google Fiber, the title of Google's most recent life-changer, promises internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second, or 100 times faster than even the fastest internet connections. Functions that take minutes on the internet now will take mere seconds. Google is first testing Fiber in Kansas City, Kansas. Consumers are troubled, because "not all who want Fiber may be able to get it", and a one-time setup fee of $300 is no small sum. Google hasn't announced where it's going with Fiber next, but we're all crossing our fingers for our hometowns. See how Google Fiber stacks up to your current bandwidth with this infographic.

Read all about it here.
Best Practices in Video for the Web
Aug 08 2012 - 10:04:00 am
The importance of optimizing your online videos for search engines is on the rise.

Creating Online Video Magic That Gets Seen
Popular search engines like Google and Yahoo! are constantly updating their search standards and giving added weight to videos in users’ search results. The idea behind this favoritism is that mainstream audiences consistently seem to prefer watching to reading content when performing internet searches.

Before we can get into file formats and optimizing your video for the web, we need to make sure you’ve answered a few questions first.

When considering ways to optimize your online video content, you need to consider who it is exactly that is going to seek out and view your video and what language or keywords they’re going to use to find it.

Take into consideration your purpose. Are you producing this video for sales and marketing, customer service, or training purposes? Next, are you creating an ongoing series, or will there be a set number of installments in the series? Finally, if you’re going to monetize this video content, what’s your strategy going to be?

There are two major options to consider when deciding where to publish your video. First, you can upload it to your own server and self-host it. Alternatively, you can post it to an online video site like Yahoo! or YouTube and embed it on your site using the simple available toolsets.

An overview of major video file formats
Depending on how you want your online video clip to function, any of these major video file formats will suffice. The decision as to which one is best for you will depend on how you want it to be viewed.

WMV or Windows Media Video can be used for both downloading video and streaming it. A WMV player comes pre-installed on a Windows operating system and offers a great file size. The problem is that the video is usually so compressed that the quality of this format is less than desirable, especially when so many alternatives exist.

AVI or Audio Video Interlaced was developed by Microsoft and is one of the original digital video formats. While this universal format provides a quality sufficient for a “master” or pre-editing clip, it is much too large for online sharing.

FLV or Flash Video Format is the most commonly used format for sharing videos online. It provides one of the smallest file sizes available while maintaining great quality. The FLV format is played back using Adobe Flash Player (pre-installed on almost every computer in use today, also available as a free download). As a matter of fact, when you upload a video to YouTube or Yahoo!, the sites take your source video and automatically convert it into this format for the end user.

MPEG-4 or Motion Picture Experts Group Part 14
is the format most commonly used by camcorders and cameras. This highly recommended format even has YouTube’s stamp of approval as its uploading preference.

In the end, using MPEG-4 with the H.264 video compression codec is the recommended format for delivering video online.

Best practices for web video optimization
Before optimizing your videos for the web, you need to be sure that the videos themselves are both informative and relevant to your target audience. Without this check, you risk confusing your viewer and possibly diminishing the image of your brand.

Here’s a quick list of the top five practices for web video optimization:

1. Don’t forget that you are marketing  your video. So give it a witty, headline-like title that catches the eye, has an element of intrigue, and possibly poses a question only those that view the video will get the answer to.

2. Think “key phrases” not just “keywords.” Individual words are too general and won’t help you gain any ground against the competition. Instead, research key phrases that relate to your video and use the best ones in your tags.

3. Remember the links. One of the biggest factors in SEO is the inbound link or links to you. For this reason, you’ll do yourself a huge favor by using your key phrase directly in your title as well as in the anchor text on any sites you personally post the content to.

4. Better META. Optimizing your content’s narrative with a key phrase-rich description will not only boost SEO results, but it will also give would-be viewers information relevant to deciding whether to watch your video.

5. Think like the viewer. Let your new fans interact with your video content. Let them subscribe to the RSS and rate the video. Let them embed it on their own pages if they so desire. Simply add your logo to the corner of the video like the major networks do and offer key phrase-filled transcripts.

Finally, keep the videos short if you want viewers to watch them in their entirety. If the subject matter requires a longer runtime, break it down into episodes or parts and let viewers watch at their own pace.

When it comes to video creation, formatting, and optimizing, understand that you have tons of available options. Explore these different elements through trial and error and find the best way to create online video magic that gets seen!

Do you prefer to read content or watch it? Which of your favorite companies use video marketing? Post your comments below!
Mobile Access for Your Organization
Aug 01 2012 - 11:26:00 am
Mobile access to the Internet is defined as a user accessing a wireless connection to the web with some type of lightweight mobile device. This device is generally the user’s cell phone, smartphone, or tablet-style PC.

FACT: Of the 4 billion mobile phones in use around the world, 1.08 billion are smartphones, and another 2 billion are SMS or text-messaging enabled (according to Microsoft Tag). Check out this infographic for usage stats at a glance.

FACT: 4 out of every 6.8 people in the world are regularly using mobile devices in their daily lives.

These figures translate into massive possibilities and huge benefits for anyone developing useful mobile content. City guides, educational tools, review and suggestion indexes, and other interactive sources of information can be of significant value to users. Not surprisingly, the popularity of mobile devices is growing at such a rate that it is projected that mobile computing will take over desktop computing as the main access point for all Internet usage by the year 2014.

In the U.S., a large portion of mobile users are students. This generation of youth has fueled unprecedented growth in the market and embraced new technologies to the point of dependence. Such a widespread demand for mobile content presents an opportunity for communities to become more connected and for schools to extend learning beyond the classroom. Educators can provide resources for students to engage with information and take assignments with them wherever they roam, and residents of all ages can keep up with local events and news.  

What are the benefits of mobile access?
First, when an organization develops a mobile site, every facet and department gets involved. Each segment of the organization can be featured and highlighted along with information specific to its own activities and happenings.

As an example, a municipality can focus on granting citizens access to their local government and services as well as offering specialized tools like information about street closure schedules and special events. A school district could keep parents connected to the classroom by providing mobile access to homework and upcoming assignment schedules.

So, what does all this mean for the online content of these organizations and their websites? Bottom line, if they haven’t adapted content to work seamlessly on mobile devices, then they’re already a step behind the competition.

Mobile Optimization
Mobile optimization refers to the process of tailoring the creation of a website for easy viewing on a mobile phone. Sometimes this may mean adapting an existing website; oftentimes, an entirely new mobile website is created.

In today’s educational environment, any tool that can foster enthusiasm for the learning process should be seen as a valuable addition to the education system. Offering a school or class website that has been optimized for mobile access can be one such resource.

Mobile websites can connect citizens of a community by making event calendars and newsletters available and conveniently accessible for all; such sites can also serve to connect parents and teachers by featuring homework, testing, and classroom information.

Who can benefit from developing proprietary applications?
While a proprietary application (or “app”) provides maximum customization and flexibility, development and maintenance can be quite costly. Corporate entities and retail businesses typically benefit the most from such an investment; the majority of organizations looking to connect to and engage users would do well to simply aim for a website optimized for mobile use. 
Mobile Access: Native Optimization vs. Web Applications

There are two main options for “going mobile” with content. The first is to build a separate version of one’s main website which is optimized for the mobile web browser, or to build what is popularly referred to as an “app”, or software application, that clients can use to interact with and access information.

Website Optimization

Website optimization for mobile web browsing refers to the process of adapting and streamlining a website to work properly with the browser installed on a mobile device. This type of website differs greatly from one currently optimized for viewing through a browser installed on a desktop Windows or Mac system.

For starters, mobile screen size is limited, and lack of flash compatibility renders many fancy gateway pages and interactive menus useless to mobile users. In addition, as it is still important to include all textual content as well as links to any audio and video, developers need to remember that bandwidth for mobile devices can  be limited so, “smaller is better” when it comes to file size.

Some specific things to consider when optimizing for the mobile web:

  • URL. One must decide whether to use the same dot-com address for both the desktop and mobile versions of the website or to set up a separate URL (i.e. www.mobile.yoursite.com)
  • What content to exclude. Most on-the-go users don’t have a lot of use for technical data, disclosures, or mission statements. They are looking for what is being sold, current pricing, and any other immediately pertinent information.
  • Design. Remember to design the website with the mobile screen in mind. This means avoiding detailed layouts, using alt-tags for images, and avoiding frames or objects with fixed sizes.

Web Applications
As an alternative to mobile optimization, authors of online content can create a software application to facilitate their information. “Apps” are typically small, specialized programs which are downloaded and used exclusively on mobile devices.

One of the benefits of developing a specialized application compared to adapting an existing website to be mobile accessible is that apps actually reside as an icon on the desktops and menus of the customers’ mobile devices. This means that the app stakes out actual, digital real estate that is constantly reminding the customer of the creator’s content.

Click here to see mobile app usage at a glance.

Since mobile access is growing so rapidly in popularity, how can your organization take advantage of your visitors being connected to you 24/7? Post your comments below!