It’s time to think mobile first
“Build for mobile first” —this is what David Barnes, IBM’s first official “Technology Evangelist” and JAX 2016 speaker, said during this year’s conference. It used to be a desktop first world, but as mobile-friendly websites rank higher in Google search results, the time has come to put mobile first.
Mobile has become the main way people interact with the internet.Benedict Evans, partner at Andreessen Horowitz and long-time mobile pundit famously said in a recent presentation titled Mobile ate the world that “mobile is the new scale.” Whether software developers agree with this or not, the advantages are obvious: since mobile applications have shorter development cycles, companies have the chance to gain a market presence faster. Plus, scalability or performance problems can be detected early and solved before web based applications go into production and there’s the feedback factor —mobile devices now represent the fastest and best way to obtain feedback on what features are being used the most and which ones have not managed to attract users’ attention.
Last year’s Mobilegeddon was a wake up call for many companies that put desktop first and emphasized the need to have a mobile first strategy.
What did Mobilegeddon accomplish?
Google announced exactly one year ago that Google Search expanded its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change affected mobile searches in all languages worldwide; it also has a significant impact in Google Search results because users find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results optimized for their devices. Google’s mobile algorithm update is all about user experience.
Mobilegeddon managed to shift the focus from designing the desktop experience first to starting with mobile. It also demonstrated that a clean and rather simple UI works well not only on desktop, but also on mobile. Thinking mobile first will ensure that the user begins the journey and that the journey itself is long and sweet. Creating a design that is lightweight and fast on a mobile before transferring the same idea to a monitor will save important resources such as time and money.
Is the desktop dead?
Mobile comes first now, but that doesn’t automatically mean that desktop is dead. Desktop is still king for many things and it (still) has factors such as power, flexibility and customizability on its side. Although Apple CEO Tim Cook asked during an interview with The Telegraph last year “Why would you buy a PC anymore?”, the reality is that the Cupertino-based tech giant has not ditched its iconic iMac.
Still, there is no denying that mobile plays an essential part in people’s lives. ABI research announced four years ago that mobile services revenues from mobile business users worldwide will grow to $340 billion by 2017. Plus, in developed regions like North America and Western Europe, smartphone penetration will grow to over 90 percent which means that having a beautiful mobile app will be a must. Meanwhile, App Annie revealed that this year, the global mobile app market is projected to expand 24 percent to reach $51 billion in gross revenue across all app stores. By 2020, gross revenue across all app stores will exceed $101 billion globally.
It’s official: the web isn’t tied down to the (computer) box anymore!