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The Danger of Making ‘Mobile First’ an Afterthought

Here’s an idea, let’s create the greatest digital experience possible. Let’s spend a ton of time on the content, the layout, navigation, search, the design (don’t forget the design!) and then when it’s just right, let’s drum up traffic with media, emails and social networks.

/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/mobilefirst_295998.jpgJob done, right? Time for high fives and back pats?

Well wait a minute, what about mobile? Yes, yes, of course everyone knows it also needs to work on mobile devices and when it was checked on tablets, it looked “good enough”.

And there you have it – the biggest challenge facing companies today. Mobile is still an afterthought when it should be the only thought.

Some staggering factoids:

  • 3 million new smartphones were activated today. 3 million yesterday, 3 million tomorrow, 3 million, 3 million, 3 million, you should hear it like the marching feet of a new breed of customers.
  • Next year more people will hit the internet via mobiles than traditional computers. That is only one quarter away and a short browse around the web shows how many companies are not ready for the change.
  • Mobile apps account for 82% of all media time on mobile devices, forcing the question, what’s a browser good for? This is a major paradigm change where a purpose-built app is able to deliver a significantly better experience to customers.

This means if you’re not pursuing a mobile first strategy you will quickly become irrelevant. Make no doubt about it, the path to your customers is in the form of a 2-inch screen and if you don’t focus on that experience, customers will leave.

It won’t matter how good your product or service is. It won’t matter what your net promoter score is. If you can’t serve them flawlessly on their smartphone or tablet, someone else will (in fact, someone else probably already is)

The mobile channel is becoming the new gateway to business, and like all gates, it has the power to keep customers out. Think about the last time you were dropped into a normal website from a smartphone. Or worse, a forced redirect to a mobile site from your full screen tablet? How about those hopeless sites that still inform you Flash is required to proceed? The customer reaction is to walk away and find a company who actually understands mobile.

The rallying cry is now. This is not about trying to render your existing digital experiences on a handset. The time has come to embrace the swipe, pinch, tap mobility culture first and worry about the rest later.

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      Author's profile photo Jason Lax
      Jason Lax

      "Next year more people will hit the internet via mobiles than traditional computers."

      That's the average: many websites are already well ahead of this trend and the rest will catch up soon enough. 

      Google, a company well positioned to know where things are going, recently deployed the new "Hummingbird" algorithm with the aim of enhancing natural and conversational interactions with the search engine, such as using their voice to speak requests into mobile phones and other wearable technology.