Why Mobile First Is Wrong

I realise this flies in the face of everything the company paying my bills says publicly, so let me just again make it clear that anything I write here is my own opinion …

Anyway, disclaimer done – on with the show.

Mobile first is wrong. It’s that simple.

Let’s be clear, mobile first is basically a design philosophy that entails creating web sites and services from a mobile perspective outwards rather than starting with the “luxury” of more screen size. Seems clever right?

My problem lies as much in the semantics of it as anything else. Mobile First implies favouring this over other approaches, but what you’re actually doing is favouring a device over a behaviour.

How many mobiles will buy or view your product? None. That will be done by your users or customers. Wherever they feel like it.

You’re assuming that your users will forever have that device as their primary. But with the growth in usage of wearables, not to speak of the big, old Internet of Things, you’re only building for the short term. In a few years, at most, people will start talking about other options, and who knows, maybe Things First will be a concept. Or something. But you get the idea. Mobile First is temporary.

If you take the time to look at it, data will tell you where your users/customers are and that is what should be your guidance. Odds are, granted, that they’re mobile right now, but as mentioned, they might not (read: won’t) stay that way. So while you should definitely go Mobile Now (you’d be foolish not to) don’t go Mobile First.

Where, then, to go? How about: Customer First.

Is that an important distinction? Yes, because it forces you to stay alert to shifts in user behaviour and a business on its toes, listening to its customers is a business with greater odds of success.

(This is also why responsive design is wrong, but I’ll get back to that.)