Technology and Sephora are two things I love. News about Sephora “doubling down” on tech intrigued me. They've revamped their site with a new look, more features, and “Pin it” buttons on their product pages; updated their mobile web and iOS apps; and planned to roll out iPads in some of their stores this year.
While Fabric works mainly with start-ups, it never hurts to take a tip from the big guys.
The first item I want to note is Sephora's site brought up a page over the homepage that describes the changes:
The world's favorite social networking site is infamous for rolling out changes unexpectedly and there is almost always an immediate backlash. I attribute this to the lack of warning in the early days (now, Facebook is a lot better with guides and tips on how to use new features). As someone who works behind the scenes on web sites, I know how much we in the industry rely on users to just “get it.” We say that the changes are better and more user friendly so everything will explain itself. I encourage everyone to take a look at Sephora's approach in first outlining the main changes, and then guiding the users to the new features and pages:
Lastly, I'd like to point out the reason for the increase in technological integration: according to Mashable, Sephora has seen an increase in mobile shopping at its web site, namely from iOS devices. Take time to learn about your customers, and you'll have, at the least, a starting point for reaching them.
Right now, we're working with several clients who are asking: Should we do a native (iOS or Android) mobile app or a mobile web app in HTML5?
Naturally, you'll always have to consider the business objectives such as experience, speed, and hardware feature advantages of native, but often the final decision comes down to budget. Curiously, we've found that a large portion of iPhone apps could have just been done in HTML5 and reach would have doubled. (I suppose iOS developers made the decision to go with what they know.) There are of course frameworks such as Appcelerator that allows native development and deployment to iOS, Android, and Blackberry, but such frameworks have natural limitations and may not work for your needs or turn out to be too expensive still.
For those of you on the fence, we found this to be a good primer on HTML5 vs Native mobile development. It gives you a fair idea of what the cost vs benefits are and it's a good framework for thinking about your priorities when making this choice.
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