Luke Wroblewski interview with Joe Welinske of Blink

Joe Welinske of Blink recently interviewed Luke Wroblewski, and as the ConveyUX website reports, Luke discusses the reaction to his book Mobile First. He offers suggestions for UX professionals on how to gain support for a mobile first design strategy.

You can hear the interview over at at ConveyUX, but I found the audio a bit of a struggle to deal with, so here’s my rough notes taken from that 15 minute interview. It’s not verbatim so apologies if I’m putting words in people’s mouths!

JW: It’s been a while since Mobile First came out. You’ve had time to see the impact, talk to people? How’s the philosophy of Mobile First going?

LW: As ever, different people (mis)interpret these things in different ways, and that’s definitely happened.

It’s amazing to see the applicability in areas I’d not previously considered.

Mobile’s growing like a weed, and it’s been nice to see the philosophy really get extended over the years.

People sometimes ask: Am I screwing the desktop version? I’ve been through enough of these exercises in the past and in fact this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Plus, what’s the difference between some of these desktop and tablet devices. Folding or removable touch screens – some are not that different. With Mobile First you’re doing something to help with a range of other touch devices – working towards tomorrow.

Another thing that comes up in the press now and then is that it’s really hard to create native apps and make it succeed – that it’s a blocker to going Mobile First.

Fred Wilson saidJust because something’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to do it. Websites are hard – anything new is hard.

JW: Mobile First and expanding upwards – looking at implementation, what challenges are there with say practical issues like scalability wrt tools etc?

LW: My methodology is that the mobile version is a foundation to build on, so when you push to the web you enhance and layer in as you get more screen real estate.

That becomes the front end technical solution if you like. I see so many responsive web designs now that are great on phone, tablet and desktop.

JW: The use case of people working with content in a mobile environment is very different to expectations of needs for desktop content – is responsive web design still relevant there? Does mobile first methodology work there?

LW: Assuming mobile use is this moving on-the-go use case is a non starter. 20% of use is on the couch, with TV on. 39% use mobile in bathroom (61% are lying!), so usage is anywhere and everywhere.

Assuming mobile device usage actually means mobile (moving) context, and saying you’re going to change the interface or content to do XYZ is a mind reading/losing proposition. I don’t know anyone who’s made that work intelligently.

I’m not seeing anyone going about cutting out important functionality just for mobile. On mobile, if users come from a Google search and then find the stuff they were expecting isn’t there then they’re going to be pretty pissed off.

Just because my screen is small doesn’t give anyone insight to my behaviours, desires and needs.

I do believe there are certain contexts where you have certain information, then it’s common to have location based services so their mobile use has risen – but it’s still valid on desktop. But you just perhaps make the content less prominent on desktop compared to mobile.

So the question of context comes up a lot. You can tune the prioritisation or hierarchy of information, but the presence of the content is still valuable in either case. You can totally manage that with a responsive web design.

JW: How would you suggest people go about putting forward the case that Mobile First should be embraced.

LW: The easiest thing is to go look at your logs.

I spoke to 2 big companies yesterday – one has 30% mobile traffic, the other has during the week 40%, and the weekend 50/50

Chances are that’s the environment you’re living in. Look round at everyone else. Facebook has more than 50% mobile use. PayPal, eBay – use other people’s data as a proxy. These are actual use cases.