How would you define a mobile first strategy?
The answer would really depend on if you’re on the consumer or supplier side. Mobile first a common thought across the board for most companies who are looking at new ways to generate revenue and reach their audiences. With audiences on the go more than ever before, it’s important to connect with them on their most personal device. It’s also important to do it the most efficient way possible internally.
To me, mobile first means starting from scratch and scaling up. It means taking your existing mobile and traditional websites, scrapping them, then designing for the phone, tablet and, finally, desktop. However, don’t ignore what you’ve done in the online and mobile space thus far. Instead use all the findings from there to paint a picture of your mobile audience. After all, data doesn’t lie.
Analytics companies are getting smarter about who your users are. Services such as Google Analytics actually break out your mobile and desktop traffic enough that you can understand who each user base is and what they’re looking at, regardless if you are mobile optimized. Spend time looking at this data to paint a picture of why your users (customer, subscriber, etc.) view your mobile website on the go. You may even be surprised by the answer.
Here’s one example: Let’s say you are a company that sells toddler toys. On desktop, your site’s most popular section is the baby blog. On mobile, however, your consumer recall blog is the most visited spot. You’d want to tailor the mobile experience a little more towards the latter, right?
That was a horrible example, but the point is, your mobile user is not always the same as your desktop one. You need to look at what your offering value is to each audience, then design for that. Your mobile website doesn’t have to have every single piece of information that your traditional website has — it shouldn’t. It is a waste of valuable screen real estate and data for the user.
Mobile First Mandate
Think about it like this: Mobile should be the point on an upside-down triangle. As you move up, more content and features begin to fill the wider parts of the triangle, eventually reaching what we typically know as the base (i.e. desktop).
Once you know what your minimal viable mobile website product is, only then think about tablet and desktop. Create an experience that caters towards your users. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll be thankful for their continued support, which should be financially.
It’s also important to recognize that maintaining separate traditional and mobile websites can be a maintenance nightmare. Some companies have one team that works on one while another works on the other. In a world where efficiency is becoming a more tactful, this couldn’t be further from that. While you may have to tweak code for different screen sizes, all content updates should resonate across all digital channels in your portfolio.
Coding techniques using HTML5 and responsive design have made it possible to create one website that conforms to the screen size of the user. That site would only show the content that user should see and, most importantly, is optimized for the experience. There’s no pinching and zooming, which is more off-putting than the guy next to me on the bus clipping his fingernails.
From a consumer standpoint, mobile first means consuming data on a mobile website or app, then moving over to desktop. Industry stats show that mobile search is booming and so are users who use their phone during a shopping experience. They’re going to the place that provides them the most convenient answer, then crossing over to a different device to continue the experience.
Don’t lose the user at the top of that aforementioned funnel. In mobile, you often only get one chance to do it right. Users have high expectations and if you can’t deliver on their first attempt to connect with your brand, they may never return. Instead, they’ll find someone else who is already doing it properly. Take the time now to invest in your mobile properties, thinking about that experience first.