Why design mobile first


Cutting straight to the chase:



There about 1.3million Android and iOS devices alone are being sold every day. Not only there are lot of these devices around, but also people are using them to access the net more than their computers. One quarter to one third of all online transactions are being done in a mobile device. Mobile rose up to not being an afterthought anymore.



Designing to mobile devices first will result in better desktop interfaces. Because all of all the restrictions we face when designing for mobile (the first one: the size of the screen) we are forced to think harder and streamline and prioritize and that is only good to both mobile and desktop design.



Mobiles have a list of capabilities that laptops and desktop computers don’t, like GPS (or SMS). GPS alone does wonders for user experience. Mobile truly comes to life with GPS. Think about it: the device knows the direction you’re facing, the direction you’re moving, how fast your device is moving, the position it’s in. That’s golden data that adds an extra layer of richness and usefulness to any application. Thinking mobile first allows us to take full advantage of these powerful features (and then it’s just easy to omit it on personal computers, which don’t have those capabilities).



Research has showed that tablets are not so ‘mobile’ as smartphones. Most people are using tablets in the mornings and the evenings, and they’ll commonly be using it on a couch, while watching TV, or in the bedroom. So these aren’t really very portable devices in the sense of mobility. They’re mobile around the house. That’s why only six per cent of tablet connectivity is off a mobile network. The rest is all running off Wi-Fi.”



Currently, just about all major internet companies have included ‘mobile first’ in their high level strategy. Literally: AOL is doing it; Yahoo, Google and Facebook have done it. Startups are equally interested and eager. This is not experimental stuff or even cutting edge anymore. It’s here.

Part of its popularity is because the results are so clear and good. Many people are preferring mobile interfaces now in that they like the way they operate, because of how direct they are. In other words, the avoidance of cluttering that designers have been talking about for some long has finally been demonstrated by mobile UIs. People can focus and do one thing at a time quickly and easily. That’s something to think about.



Responsive Design showed up sometime ago and there was much arguing on the pros and cons of having one-site-only adjusting to various screen sizes (i.e.: the inconvenience of downloading into the mobile device the same large images used for desktop computers and how that ate phones’ bandwidth). But in designing mobile first responsive design might be able to work better by starting with the basics that work well for mobile devices (like smaller images) and adding what’s needed for the other screen sizes layouts (tablets, laptops, desktop computers).

By the way, if your site is not responsive yet, maybe you want to talk to us? This too is going mainstream and it’s not rocket science in the sense that people are now expecting that to happen (because they are getting used to other sites responding that way), and you site should have it too!



I will quote Luke Wroblewski here, the guy who coined and invented the ‘mobile first’ philosophy: “The thing I hear most is that it’s a really big change to people’s processes and mindset. It requires a lot of rethinking about the way you do things. And it requires work. So that’s been a challenge to a lot of people, to put themselves into that mindset. But I also hear that when people do, a lightbulb goes off in their heads and they realize: ‘Aha, this is a fantastic way of working’.”



Have you considered having a mobile version of your site yet? What are your own difficulties? Connect with us if you feel we can help you clarify things and establish a plan to get your mobile site going.

Posted by on August 1, 2012 with no comments yet

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