What is a mobile first strategy?

150 150 David DeWolf

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 losing 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 its greatest extent? What are the biggest hurdles you are finding in developing and deploying this new strategy?