What is a mobile first strategy?

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I’ve found that over the past several months the phrase mobile first has become part of my standard vocabulary.  You may have even noticed that I blogged about the relationship between “Mobile First and the Product Mindset” a couple of months ago.  Unfortunately, I’m afraid I may have jumped the gun; over the past few weeks, several people, have asked me exactly what I mean by mobile first. It seems as though mobile first isn’t necessarily a part of everyone else’s standard vocabulary.


So, what is mobile first?

Mobile first is a product strategy that considers portable devices, namely smart-phones and tablets, as a primary deployment platform.

Product teams that have a mobile first strategy do more than just deploy mobile versions of their software before, or in conjunction with, a web version.  Successfully deploying a mobile first strategy requires the product team to leverage the uniqueness of the mobile device.


So, how is a mobile device different?


Mobile devices have several unique characteristics.  A mobile first strategy leverages these characteristics in order to provide greater product value.  These characteristics include:

  • Their sensory nature.  Mobile devices enable verbal queues and commands, touch screens, and optics.  
  • Their portability and accessibility.  Mobile devices provide convenient, always on accessibility.
  • Their geo-local awareness.  Mobile devices travel with their users and are able to pinpoint their real time location.
  • Their personal connection.  Mobile devices have become an extension of the human person more than any other device.
By leveraging a mobile first product strategy, product teams are driving rapid innovation of new and valuable features.  Product teams that do not consider portable devices as a primary deployment platform are being left behind.  They are loosing access to a rich data set and frequent user interaction.

Have you switched to a mobile first product strategy?  Is your product leveraging mobility to it’s greatest extent?  What are the biggest hurdles you are finding in developing and deploying this new strategy?

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