Bridging the Digital Divide


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WordCamp Phoenix 2013 presentation on low-tech needs/uses for WordPress.

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  • Personal IntroductionSenior Web Engineer @ 10upPreviously worked on .Net projects in the insurance and health industriesFormer freelance PHP/JS developerContributed to every major WP release since 2.3Early adopter – already have Windows 8
  • October trip to HaitiShocked by the way people use technologyIwas also trying to use tech in a new, unique wayWas inspired to do some more research when I got home
  • Based on a CNN article that published when I got home, I wanted to take a look at Africa.Smartphone penetration is nonexistentIf you’re targeting “mobile-first” with a responsive or smartphone-optimized site, you’re only reaching 16% of the market.
  • Internationally, smartphones have only reached about a quarter of the market.Even in the US, smartphone penetration is still below 50%.
  • Current “mobile” optimizations are only part of the solutionThey work best for touch-enabled smartphones/tablets … nothing else
  • Current tools are hacky. Many (like IFTTT) are slowing being shut down by the APIs they has a post-by text feature. That only works in the US and is being deprecated anyway
  • I tried downloading my own site just as a test. I’m using the eleven40 Genesis child themeHome page is (just markup) – 39 KBIncluding styles, images, and scripts – 465.8 KB. Loads in 1.3s over a high-speed connectionDownloading this over a 56Kbps connection takes 30 s to begin rendering - 2 minutes to load fullyDownloading it on a dumb phone times out
  • Focus organization on content. Don’t make the user wait for other junk to load firstUse .htaccess to return a text-only version of the siteUse SMS for administration – I built a system to proxy SMS messages through Sweden to my .com site over XMLRPC.
  • Bridging the Digital Divide

    1. 1. Bridging the Digital Divide High-Tech Solutions for Low-Tech Access@10up Eric A Mann @ericmann
    2. 2. Who’s This Guy?• Senior Web Engineer at 10up• WordPress Core Contributor• Early adopter@10up Eric A Mann @ericmann
    3. 3. Why Low-Tech? Photo by Solengy Eric A Mann @ericmann
    4. 4. Some Stats• CNN: Africa a “mobile-only” continent1• 85% have mobiles2• Only ~19% are smartphones1 Eric A Mann @ericmann
    5. 5. Internationally Infographic by Our Mobile Planet Infographic by VisionMobile Eric A Mann @ericmann
    6. 6. Tools of Today• Responsive Design• Mobile Themes• Native Apps WPTouch by Brave New Code@10up Eric A Mann @ericmann
    7. 7. Content Creation Suffers• WordPress’ admin is huge• Mobile apps require a smartphone• Other solutions are disappearing@10up Eric A Mann @ericmann
    8. 8. Room for Low-Tech• How big is your site’s footprint?• Is it readable as text only?• Can you navigate without a mouse?@10up Eric A Mann @ericmann
    9. 9. Potential New Tools• Content-centric markup• Text-only mode• SMS integration@10up Eric A Mann @ericmann
    10. 10. Mobile != Mobile@10up Eric A Mann @ericmann