The Field Guide
Updates, Ideas, and More from the folks behind Yellowstone
Published on June 26, 2017
Two new features have been rolled out over the weekend. Both are exciting, but for different reasons.
The first new feature is something we’ve been working on for a while: videos! In your Yellowstone Console you will see a new Videos module in the menu. Clicking on that you’ll find an option to add integrations and to manage the videos that are published in your app. In the integrations, you can add your YouTube account. There’s no authorization required; just enter your username and Yellowstone handles the rest.
Once your YouTube account is setup, Yellowstone will show you all of the videos available. Just like any other content item in Yellowstone, you can set the publication status and the pinning status of a video by clicking the status dot.
The videos module is live now, and it’s already been deployed to your app!
The second feature we rolled out will turn videos on in your app. While managing any module in your Yellowstone Console you will see an Enabled toggle on the top right. Similar to the Published toggle for individual content items, the Enabled toggle allows you to turn off and on entire modules in your app. When you’re ready to showcase videos to your members, just flip the Enabled toggle and reload your app.
This works for all modules in your app. Feel free to turn them off and on as you see fit.
One side note about videos: at the moment, videos are only available to view within the Videos module in the app. Videos will be accessible on the home screen soon. Stay tuned!
Published on June 20, 2017
The past few months have brought a lot of change to the Yellowstone Platform. What, exactly, has been going on?
Since March of this year, we’ve been working behind the scenes to rebuild the Yellowstone Platform on top of a rich set of modern technologies. Namely, Ionic and Google Firebase. With Ionic and Firebase we’ve created a system that is sleek, runs faster and allows us at Yellowstone to iterate more efficiently as we create the best membership platform that fits in the palm of your hand.
What is Ionic, you ask? Ionic is a cross-platform framework for building mobile apps that is supported by 5 million developers worldwide and powers over 4 million apps. It's the technical glue that sits under the hood allowing us to quickly and efficiently build features specific to Yellowstone. Ionic handles the technical details of working on Android and iOS while providing a platform for creating beautiful components that fit your organization's needs. It means at Yellowstone we get to focus on features and less on the nitty-gritty details that separate Android and iOS.
We've also migrated to Google's Cloud Platform for all of our server-side needs. This means that Yellowstone mobile apps now talk directly to Google's cloud-based servers for every action they perform. From downloading the latest news and events to receiving a push notification, everything goes through Google's servers. It may not seem like a big deal, but this is huge.
Since Google's infrastructure is distributed across servers worldwide, your content is closer than ever to your members. You'll notice that the apps open and show content significantly faster than they have in the past. This is great news for your members no matter where they are as they have to spend less time navigating and waiting and more time reading and interacting with your content. In fact, since releasing this version of the app, we've already seen almost a 30% uptick in unique devices and screen views across the platform.
The bottom line is, this investment of time and technology has created a better platform for your members to consume your content. Additionally, it allows us to iterate on and expand the platform to better fit future and current needs.
There are a lot of updates to come now that Yellowstone is running on Ionic and Google Firebase. You are going to hear a lot more from us soon!
App Version 3
Published on June 7, 2017
Today we are happy to officially announce the third version of the Yellowstone-powered mobile apps. This version includes so many improvements that it is a little hard to know where to start, so we’ll start with the most noticeable upgrade: these apps are fast.
From load time to user interactions, everything is faster with version three. As soon as you open up your app you will notice the difference. The splash screen hangs around for only a second before the app’s UI appears and your content begins to load. To keep your members’ informed about what’s happening, we have also introduced content loading animations that display while your content updates on their device. The other noticeable speed improvement is with interactions. Tap the menu button and your menu slides out instantly. Tap Actions and your Actions Screen slides back just as quickly. Everything in your app is faster.
To say we are plenty excited about the speed of version three’s interactions is an understatement.
The other major change you’ll likely notice right away is with the in-app browser. We have completely rebuilt the in-app browser from the ground up to better integrate with the app and display your web-based content. Gone is the browser-based navigation bar at the bottom and the confusing exit button at the top. Now there’s a simple branded bar across the top with a clear “Back” button. There’s also a unique animation when one of your members loads web content to differentiate it from app-based content.
Something you may not notice at first: we’ve also rebuilt the UI from the ground up. The biggest changes in the UI will be noticed if you put an Android and iOS device next to each other. Your app now utilizes platform-specific UI guidelines and icons in the app.
As you’ll notice above, on iOS, menu titles are in the center. On Android, those titles are on the left next to the menu button. The user and menu icons are also platform-specific. Play with the Android and iOS side-by-side and you will notice a lot of little UI improvements like that. Taken together, they create a better experience for your members.
The screens themselves have all been improved. Content on the screens renders sharper and crisper than in version two. We’ve spent time improving fonts, colors, layouts, icons, and animations to make your app faster and easier to use for your members.
As of today, all Yellowstone-powered apps are running on version three and an upgrade is available for your app in both the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store.
A final note about this update: this is the last of the major platform updates we have been working on since last fall. We are very excited to showcase the features that will be rolling out on version three of the apps soon.
Pinned Content has Arrived!
Published on January 27, 2017
We've also updated the Yellowstone Console with a few new tools to make managing your content easier.
Pinned Content & Publication Status
The first thing you may notice is the new status dot to the left of each content item. This dot displays both the current publication status of an item, as well as if it is pinned or not. A green dot means the item is published in your app. A red dot means it is not. A green dot with the white thumbtack means the item is published and pinned in your app. Click a green dot make an item pinned. Click a green dot with a pin to unpublish the item, it will then display a red dot. Click a red dot to publish the item, changing the dot back to green. The publication status is saved as you change it.
What Does Pinning Do?
An item that is pinned will show up first in its respective content list. For example, an Event that is pinned will show up first in the Events block on your app’s home screen as well as first in the default view on the Events screen. The same applies to items in News, Action, Messages, and Photos. We are also using pinning to make content a little easier to find in your Console. By default, anything that is pinned will now show up first in your Console.
Other Console Updates
You can now change the sort order of content by clicking on the header of any column. You can sort by ascending or descending for that column. Clicking one sorts descending, clicking again sorts ascending, and a third time reverts to the default sort.
You will also notice that we have removed the "Action" button on the right of the content. Now, when you mouseover an item in the Console, the "Edit" action buttons will appear immediately underneath that item.
Feel free to let us know what you think of the updates and if you have questions about how to use any of the new features.
Introducing App Analytics
Published on December 22, 2016
Today we are rolling out the single largest change to the Yellowstone Console: app analytics. Now every time you log into your account Yellowstone will present a usage overview of your app on the home page. The data presented is specifically tuned to provide the most complete and up-to-date overview of your app in a way that simpler stats – like app downloads – cannot.
Here's what you can expect next time you log into the Yellowstone Console:
Once you know what you're looking at, this will be a great resource to understand what's going on with your app.
(1) Date Range
Here you can change the time period that the data draws from. While we're launching this tool today, your data goes back to about mid-November. You can choose any number of days and all the data on the page will update accordingly. The time zone you choose should have little impact on the data that’s displayed, but it is necessary to determine when a day starts and when a day ends.
(2) Numeric Data
Across the top of the analytics page are four key metrics: Active Devices, Screen Views, App Launches, and New Members. These four metrics are better indicators about how your app is doing than app downloads. Like all the data on this page, these numbers will change depending on your chosen date range.
Yellowstone will also display a percent-change next to the numeric data title; green for positive change, red for negative change. The percent-change is calculated by comparing the current data to past data. For example, if you select one week of data to display, Yellowstone will compare that to the previous week’s data and show you the percent-change between the two weeks. If you select ten days of data, Yellowstone will compare those ten days to the previous ten days.
Here's what the numeric data numbers across the top of your console mean:
- Active Devices: This is the total number of devices the app has been launched on
- Screen Views: The total number of individual screens viewed in the app – this is most similar to page views on the web
- App Launches: The number of times the app has been opened
- New Members: Probably the most self-explanatory: the number of new accounts created by your members
We've included tooltips – a little blue circle with a ? in it – that will tell you what the numeric metric is for future reference when you mouse-over it.
(3) Platform Stats
These two charts show break out app usage by platform. The first, Unique Devices by Platform, shows you both total number of unique devices each day (the full height of the bar) as well as the breakdown between Android (blue) and iOS (orange). Mouse-over any bar and Yellowstone will tell you the exact number of iOS users and Android users for that day.
The pie chart, Screen Views by Platform, gives you a quick glance at what percentage of your members are using Android (blue) and iOS (orange).
(4) Screen Views Over Time
The final stacked line chart across the bottom breaks down screen views over time. Here you can see which screens are most popular both over the selected date range as well as over individual days. Mouse-over on a given day and Yellowstone will display the data for that day.
This is just the beginning of analytics in Yellowstone. We plan on continuing to roll out more analytics tools across the console to give you insights into how your app is being used.
New Push Notifications
Published on October 5, 2016
This morning we rolled out a pretty big update to Yellowstone's push notification tools. A ton of work has gone into this update over the last few months and we are very excited to finally have it out in the field.
Before we get into the new features, a few notes: Push Notifications now exist as a separate content type from Messages. You will see a new section for Push Notifications in your Console with the option to Create and Manage the notifications. Messages still exist as a content type in Yellowstone and in your apps, but they no longer trigger a Push Notification themselves. The Push Notification itself does not appear in your app. They are designed to send your members to other bits of content within the app itself.
Okay, now onto all the cool new stuff:
Scheduling: All push notifications can now be scheduled. Want to send a push notification reminder to get out and vote? You can create that today and schedule it for Nov 8th. Use the new scheduling system to send separate notifications to members in the morning for each time zone. All notifications are created in GMT. We've included a link to a handy time zone converter to figure out when to set your notification in GMT. Please double-check you have both the date and the time correct when creating push notifications.
Targeting: You are now able to send push notifications to a segment of your members. Just upload a CSV file of email addresses and Yellowstone will do the rest. Now target everyone who has RSVP'd to an event (just download the CSV from the Event's RSVP page). Create a custom list of members in a specific zip code, or state, or any other combination you want. All Yellowstone needs is a list of email addresses. Users must have created a membership account in the app in order to receive target notifications. Push Notifications created without a list of members will go to all members.
Content Linking: Lastly, any Action, News item, or Event can be linked to from a Push Notification. Create a push notification for an Action to boost its response rate, send everyone on the RSVP list to the Event screen directly from the Push Notification, or use a notification for breaking news.
With the combination of scheduling, targeting, and linking, push notifications just got a whole lot more powerful. We're excited to roll this out for you all today.
One last note: as always, because of the way Push Notifications work, it can take up to ten minutes for a notification to appear on a phone after it has been delivered by Yellowstone.
A Smarter Home Screen
Published on August 9, 2016
The Home Screen of your app just got a bit smarter with today's update.
We've rolled out a simple algorithm that selects up to three of the most recent events, civic actions, news items and pages to display on your app's home screen. Right now the items are grouped together. Yellowstone does take into account the member's current distance from an event's location as well as the time and date when factoring in which to display on the home screen.
Overtime the Home Screen will continue to get smarter, displaying the most relevant content for each individual member making your app even more useful for all of your members.
Small Tweak to Events
Published on July 20, 2016
This morning we pushed a minor - but we think, very useful - change to Yellowstone. Previously there was a "Hosted By" field associated with an Event that would appear above the address information for the Event in the apps. The idea was to make it simple to tell the user who was hosting the event.
However, from feedback and user testing, the field wasn't being used all that much and there is additional location-related information that is of equal or greater importance to your users; information like the name of the location (e.g. Taylor State Park) or room information (e.g. Sapphire Ballroom).
You can see this change here:
You can still enter Host information (and we've automatically converted any "Hosted By" information to this format) by just entering "Hosted By Wagtime" or whoever your host is into the field.
This is a small change, but one we think you'll find more useful and more informative for you users. And again, if you had information in the old "Hosted By" field, that information hasn't changed. It's still there.
New What's New
Published on June 7, 2016
Welcome to the new What's New blog. We've created this area to keep you informed about the cool changes and new features for the Yellowstone platform and mobile apps. You'll continue to receive the occasional email highlighting new features and changes, and we'll also post that information and more details about those changes, here. As always, if you have any questions, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.