Web 2.0 is a powerful tool which is now reaching far beyond the desktop computer; the ability to reach target markets is increased dramatically. In 2010, there were five billion Internet connected devices – an incredible channel to reach users and target markets. But these 5 billion devices include traditional desktops, mobile phones, tablets and any number of other devices. Clearly, one version of an application cannot suit all devices due to the variances in the features of devices.
This is where the concept of software above the level of a single device arises. As one of the core Web 2.0 design patterns, this pattern states that web applications should be tailored to meet the needs of individual devices, by targeting specific features of a service to devices, and making the most of what these devices have to offer. This creates a rich, tailored and complete service which a company can and should use as part of their Web 2.0 offering.
Focusing specifically on mobile devices and the desktop, there are a collection of web apps that have complimentary mobile app options. One such company offering this functionality is Tumblr. Tumblr is a unique blogging platform, siting somewhere between micro-blogging service Twitter and full-blown WordPress, Blogger and other blog services. It encourages users to post short content – quotes, text, links, photos and so on – but deliver this in a more blog-oriented style. While Tumblr is multi-platform – there is a desktop tailored web-app, native applications for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android, and also connectivity to Twitter and Facebook.
Tumblr makes unique use of software above the level of a single device best practice. First, Tumblr tailors the experience of posting to the device. On the desktop, the web app fills the display and has a wide-screen layout. On the mobile devices, the posting activities are tailored to fit the display. Tumblr takes these steps to suit the device and ensure accessibility, which invites content contribution by users. Further, mobile device applications take use of the hardware on these devices (specifically photo, video and audio recording), which are not always available on desktops. Users always have their mobile devices with them, meaning the barrier to contribution is lowered and the user may post from where the action is. Data is available across the web and mobile platforms once the data is posted.
One aspect of the pattern which Tumblr does not integrate is location. There is a push for location services in web 2.0, examples including FourSquare, Google Places and Facebook Places. Tumblr is positioned to include functionality to post a users location and have a Google Map show as the post on the user’s Tumblr blog. It may also be possible for Tumblr to spread social interaction to the real world and allow a way for users to discover posts near them, as a way to find out interesting things going on around them. This in itself would require Tumblr to further adopt Web 2.0 strategies such as harnessing collective intelligence as in other blogging applications, perhaps through comments.
Overall, Tumblr is a very focused application which addresses the more important best practice of the software above the level of a single device design pattern, but has room to grow and take advantage of other parts of the pattern.
Tumblr has given me a new way to reach my audience. How have/can you use Tumblr in your social media brand?