The term “Mobile First” is thrown around more and more often – I think we’ve all heard it by now. What “Mobile First” means is subjective at times, and when philosophy is applied to process, there are bound to be exceptions to rules, edge cases, etc.
What is Mobile First?
For most people, the initial thought is mobile devices. But what is “mobile”? Mobile is mobility. This is important, because mobility speaks to the humanistic qualities of experience, whereas devices are hardware.
The most important piece of a Mobile First process is the context of the user. I recently attended DrupalCon Denver, where Michael Keara, of That User Advocate Guy and My Planet, compared a user to a traffic cone. A traffic cone, in and of itself, is inconsequential. But when placed in any environment, the traffic cone should alter its environment to its purpose. People are the same way, and the goal of any Mobile First process is to nail down the context of that user. More great reads in Michael Keara’s blog.
Path is an application that strives to make mobile social interaction more fun. Aside from having a great responsive brochure site, they have created a fluid social experience focused on usability. This application embraces the context of the user in a way that makes using it feel completely natural, and has allowed Path to make some noise for itself in an intimidating market space.
As an industry, this is an exciting time. We are forced to break away from old habits, and put the context of the user first. The behaviors in which users access content are changing at an unprecedented pace, and these users are increasingly stingy about the amount of effort they will put into engagement. This evolution in the digital space is a huge opportunity to create better products as well as tailor user experiences to match their day to day life. Mobile first, content first, user first is where we need to be as an industry.
For more on Mobile First philosophy, I recommend the bible on the subject, Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski.
By Colin Proctor, Smashing Art Director