Joshua Johnson: The Pros and Cons of Mobile-First Design

Author and Designer Lobbies for Progressive Enhancement

Industry News, Mobile Development Comments (0)

A new battle cry has arrived in town: “Mobile First!”

The movement is associated with designer Luke Wrobleski but is now being picked up and promoted by other designers and developers, including Float’s Chad Udell and ASTD’s Justin Brusino.

In a recent article on the Design Shack” blog, Joshua Johnson of Phoenix, Ariz., explains what is great and not so great about a mobile-first philosophy. Up to now, most digital designers have started with a Web design for desktop computers, and then produced a design for mobile as an afterthought. This seems backward when you realize that there are over 1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwide and that 25 percent of U.S. mobile Web users usually don’t even use a desktop computer to access the Web, and for some groups, the percentage of mobile-only users is much higher.

There are two approaches to solving the problem of designing for mobile while maintaining content for larger computers as well: “graceful degradation” and “progressive enhancement.” Joshua argues for the progressive enhancement approach:

Here we’re starting with a project that is both super lean and impressive. You’ve taken all of that starting energy and put it into creating a product that looks and functions well despite the many restraints you faced.

More importantly, you’ve already gone through the problem of trimming down the content to its most vital elements. Now when it’s time to bring this design to the desktop, instead of facing the decision of what to cut and how to water down your product, you instead get to decide how to make it even more robust!

There is much more information in the full article.

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Gary Woodill is a senior analyst with Float, as well as CEO of i5 Research. Gary conducts research and market analyses, as well as assessments and forecasting for emerging technologies. Gary is the co-editor of "Mastering Mobile Learning," author of “The Mobile Learning Edge,” and the co-author of “Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds.” He also presents at conferences and is the author of numerous articles and research reports on emerging learning technologies. Gary holds a doctor of education degree from the University of Toronto.

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On August 23, 2013
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