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Google Glass, Content Cards, & Remarkable

[fa icon="calendar"] 28-Apr-2014 13:53:27 / by Entropy Team

Entropy Team

As devoted Glass Explorers we probably didn't need a huge reason to write (yet another) blog post on Glass - but heck, since we are such unashamed devotees - what could it hurt?

One of the big questions we're often asked when we explain our content strategy and approach to Mobile and Tablet App development - as well as the ultimate inspiration for the content approach behind the Remarkable CMS - is how we recommend organising and delivering the optimal amount of content for users across multiple devices. 

The big problem has been the general (and slightly lazy) approach most content creators have had to use - mainly a top-down approach of visualising content as a Web page and 'extracting' or shrinking elements for smaller devices on down the line. In other words, it's classically been a Web-first content strategy that has been forced into a Mobile and App paradigm. This is precisely the kind of anachronistic thinking we aimed to set right in Remarkable as well the approach we take with every App we design for our clients. 

In part, the trendy buzzword of "responsive" Web design is partly to blame - suggesting a one-size-fits-all content approach that can simply be adjusted and selectively 'pruned' for smaller devices. 

 The traditional "responsive" content approach of squeezing and selecting content

This top-down approach results in content appearing on mobile (or as the above image illustrates) any smaller browser or device as just re-formatted Web content, not context aware media. And in today's mobile-first landscape, that's just not good enough.

That's where the concept of content cards comes in. 

Think of the card paradigm as small, bite-size chunks of information that are completely context-aware. Instead of starting from the top down, a content card approach starts from the smallest iteration and works its way back up (eventually landing back at a traditional Web page layout). 

In an excellent article written over at the Intercom blog, content cards are described as "the next big thing in design and the creative arts." And we totally agree. Heck, this was written over 8 months ago - and the signs are everywhere that this is indeed coming true. From Twitter cards to Google Now cards to Smartwatches and the entire Google Glass card-based platform - the concept of small "bursts of information" as the building blocks for multiple-device delivery is becoming the standard. 

 Google Glass - an entire platform built on cards

 Android Wear concept - context aware cards for connected devices and Smartwatches

Obviously cards are not appropriate in all cases - and long-form layouts will always make sense on larger devices in a more casual reading context. But frankly, even long-form content can be achieved in single or multiple cards depending on the required functionality.  

With Remarkable, we began with this card view of content and simply extrapolated that to all layout instances regardless of size. And cards are not just for delivering content. Within the Remarkable system we can actually deliver App-specific native functionality in the form of a "background card" using progressive download - meaning the concept of the card goes well beyond a few characters of text and a thumbnail. 


Card content flexibility. (Credit: Intercom blog post - click image for original article) Card content flexibility. (Credit: Intercom blog post - click image for original article)

It's an exciting time indeed - and whether the design calls for multiple cards as building blocks to a larger page, or simply flexible cards that adjust and expand as needed - the fundamental paradigm still applies.

The key in all cases is remaining context aware - and for us, that means starting with devices like Google Glass, Smartwatches, and even Mobile and Tablet Apps and working backwards (not the other way around). 

Topics: Remarkable, Ruby on Rails, Web Development

Entropy Team

Written by Entropy Team