Last Saturday, Chandralekha Tanwar, Webonise Business Analyst, graced the stage at Converge Pune: Ideation to Realization Conference. Her talk on “The Mobile First approach in end-to-end product development” left us wanting to know more. So, here it is!

The continued diversification in the market today calls for a change in our perspective when building and designing products. This edition of Converge sought to discuss this particular matter and explore the impact of culture, teams, design, methodologies, techniques, tools and technologies in the development and design phase of today’s products.

Converge Pune was attended by Business Analysts (BAs), Project and Product Managers. The audience allowed CL to focus on how the mobile first approach can be used in a real setting, a beneficial topic considering the majority of those attending have key roles that include reaching out to clients and providing solutions for their businesses to thrive.

The drastic change that took place in the way users consume content got everyone talking about Mobile First. There’s a dominance of some sort, and the mobile industry is reigning supreme. Add this to the fact that CL’s talk was also greatly inspired by Vivek Parihar’s Meta Refresh talk. Vivek, our Assistant Vice President of Engineering, also talked about the Mobile First approach in a different context. His talk revolved around the very reasons why businesses need to go Mobile First, what the basic requirements are to start implementing the said approach and what the future holds for it. (To be addressed in a future post.) CL’s presentation was a take on how the Mobile First approach can be applied to a BA’s performance of his/her profession.

The Mobile First Approach

“Mobile First is a philosophy. It is the practice of prioritizing the mobile context for better user experience.“ – Chandralekha Tanwar, Business Analyst at Webonise Lab

Mobile First is a philosophy, created by Luke Wroblewski, which features the need for the mobile context to take precedence in the process of creating user experiences. The Mobile First approach forces designers to focus their efforts on core content and functionality while encouraging designers to innovate and take advantage of mobile device capabilities.

Mobile First is not limited to smartphone use. It transcends all things that can compute and connect to the Internet, be it a tablet, Fitbit, Fuel band or even a vending machine. These advancements in mobile technology are also key to multitasking; reply to an email while watching TV, tweeting while attending an event and reading news while travelling. Design, on the other hand, should not be multitasking. The Mobile First approach encourages prioritizing what is of utmost importance and focusing on that.

 “End-users don’t care about your responsive web or your separate sites, they just want to be able to get stuff done.” - Chandralekha Tanwar, Business Analyst at Webonise Lab

Mobile Device Capabilities

Mobile device capabilities provide innovative venues where the user experience can be enhanced. Although not all of them can be utilized at once, taking advantage of a few, or the most relevant capabilities, will improve not just design but the user experience as well.

Here’s a list of mobile device capabilities, as presented by CL:

  • Touch gestures
  • Geolocation (apps like Foursquare, Tinder)
  • Barcode/ QR code scanning (Platforms like Smarter Places)
  • Camera Front & Back ( Skype, Line, Instagram)
  • Gyroscope (Facebook Paper)
  • Accelerometer (Runkeeper)
  • Ambient Light Sensor (Camera App)
  • Bluetooth & NFC (Audio Streaming)
  • Audio (Microphone & Speaker) (Skype,Tango, Shazam)

Ways to go Mobile First

1. Responsive site

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 10.12.57 PM

This is the first of the many ways one can adapt the mobile first approach. The variety of OS and mobile devices available to the market today make building a mobile app a challenge. Building a responsive design, however, will save costs, provide better UI, require less effort and most importantly, make your website optimized across all mobile devices. A responsive website design is also what your business should prioritize if you are aiming for an increase in mobile presence.


2. Native app

Native App | Webonise Lab

These are packaged applications specific to mobile platforms such as the App store for iOS and Google Play for Android devices. Don’t have much of a web presence? That shouldn’t hinder you. There are a lot of apps that have survived without a web presence. Focus on delivering better UI… the downloads and reviews will follow. Consider taking advantage of push notifications to keep your customers engaged.

3. Mobile site

Mobile Site | Webonise Lab

A mobile site is basically a copy of your site but delivered in a mobile optimized version for mobile browsers. It will be easier to navigate through the site and provide a unique user experience. Go for this if redesigning responsively is not a feasible option.

Ready to go Mobile First? Here are a few tips to help you define your product:

  • Visualize your product on the smaller screen
  • Start small - Focus on the core value/offering of your business being delivered to targeted customers
  • Identify features that can leverage mobile capabilities
  • Clearly define the expectations of your mobile strategy. Outcome can be hard or soft.

User data presents a challenging circumstance to start using mobile first. In fact, a challenging question raised during CL’s talk specifically mentioned this issue, the exact question was,

Q: “There are still some industries/domains where you can not use mobile first as an approach, like Quora where it is user data only. It would be very difficult to type an answer in mobile. What do you suggest for that?” 

A: “When I say Mobile First it does not mean that you will not design for a desktop. You design for mobile first and then progress. Regarding a site, like Quora…Yes, it will be difficult to type an answer, but Quora has another important feature apart from content generation, which is data consumption by the user. A mobile optimized site will ensure that user can consume data even if they are using their mobile devices.“

The mobile first approach does not mean ONLY going mobile, the main purpose is to encourage us to think Mobile First then move to desktop. It does not negate the significance of other platforms, but instead calls for prioritizing a design for devices that consumers readily use. Why haven’t you gone Mobile First? Ready to change your thinking? Let us know your thoughts through the comments section!