Mobile First or Why Content Really Matters

22 June 2011
Grzegorz Wolejko
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  We browse the web on our desktops and laptops and ""regardless of the chosen browser, websites have to look identical in all of them". That statement used to be chiseled out in every web designer's and web developer's brain but the statement is completely untrue.

Here's how the Southwest Airlines homepage looks like on a desktop computer
While the last couple of years took care of the second part of that statement, now it is time to tackle the first one. With rapid expansion of smart phones and mobile web browsers market, a larger number of users are browsing through your content using iPhones, Android phones, Blackberry and other mobile devices such as the iPad and other tablets. This paradigm shift is so important that it changes how websites are, or should be designed - mobile first, with content in mind. The whole concept of mobile first is based on making content accessible primarily for mobile phones and then, enriching the mobile user experience with features offered to people browsing the Web using their laptops or desktops. The Google Think Mobile webinars reinforced the shift in Google's strategy to Think Mobile first and enlightened us that Google will not even pursue a new project if the project cannot be supported over mobile. Hmmm, now this begs serious thought, doesn't it?

Southwest's homepage viewed on an iPhone display only the most important pieces of information, limited items the user sees to just the ones needed on a mobile.

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 Images courtesy : www.lukew.com

What values does this paradigm shift produce? Why does it work better than what we used to do? Here are a couple of facts -
  • Mobile market is booming. Adoption of mobile technology is growing and there are no signs of a slow down. People are increasingly, browsing the internet on their mobile phones and they want to see your content while on the move
  • Mobile browsing is clearly focusing on content. With data transfer speed and price being the issue, getting as little as you need and as fast as you can is top priority. Bells and whistles are secondary. If that.
  • This approach shifts the developer's focus. Context is king. Focus changes from design with text filling the blanks to content beautified with design elements.

Will this concept hold? It is up to us to make it happen. Only good things come out of it: wider target range, more focus on actually delivering contextual content and for what it's worth even Google thinks mobile is the best way to go!