What is a mobile first strategy?

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?

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