Rigorous testing on smaller screen devices is especially challenging, and offers new problems to solve. You may find more bugs than you would than testing on larger screen devices, but fixing them means better value for the client and an end product that will be more robust and long-lasting. Testing on mobile before desktop allows you to catch these bugs earlier in the process, reducing risk to the company and saving time and money later in the development cycle.
Developing for the web is a big, but very exciting, challenge. Approaching development from a One Web perspective, with an eye to being Future Friendly, will lead to strong, durable, products. Adopting a Mobile First strategy helps bring focus to optimising the content and performance of the site.
People should be able to access all of your web site quickly and easily, regardless of the device they’re using, the type of connection they are on, or any disabilities they have. Any given user might use multiple devices, on different network connections, and experience your site in different ways. Building this way is not only right thing to do, but makes good business sense: you get more, happier, users.
Device and browser capabilities, shapes, and sizes vary considerably, so it doesn’t make sense to try and deliver an identical experience to every user. Instead, we should provide a functional experience for as many users as possible, and applying presentation and behaviour layers to the devices that support them.
The current landscape of featurephones, smartphones, and tablets is only the beginning. The number and variety of internet-connected devices is increasing, and the future holds devices that we haven’t even imagined yet. The best way to handle this is to act in a Future Friendly way: acknowledge and embrace unpredictability.
Building a site with a focus on making it work on specific devices or platforms only works in the short term. Rather trying to catch up with the present, and continually falling behind, we should build sites for the long term, to be device-agnostic as possible.
Starting a development process thinking about mobile forces focus, especially on items such as information hierarchy and user goals. The smaller screens of mobile devices and the varying contexts they are used in makes us focus on key content and tasks.
Mobile also has capabilities that desktop machines do not: precise GPS, orientation, touch input, accelerometer, and so on. These open up possibilities for creativity and interacting with content that didn’t exist before.
Mobile is a big opportunity for businesses to engage with their existing customers. It’s a new channel that customers use frequently, and it offers the chance to bring in new customers.
Go where your customers are
Mobile should be an important part of any organisation’s cross-channel strategy. Many consumers engage heavily with their mobile device, and are often and frequently web-connected.
This is particularly true in South Africa where we have a low penetration of both desktop computers and fixed-line Internet access, meaning many people use their phone as their primary method of internet access. Mobile web uptake is also being strongly driven by social networks as an entry point.
The capabilites of mobile devices, and the new and varied contexts they are used in, offer businesses new opportunities to reach their customers. Customers may interact with the brand on the couch, while waiting for a bus or train.
Mobile can also be an opportunity to reboot. If an existing site has become cluttered or slow, if user satisfaction is low, or if a re-branding is about to occur, thinking Mobile First offers an excellent opportunity to refocus and regain customer satisfaction.
People often use their devices for research, then proceed to buy on a desktop, or in a shop. Mobile itself is a rapidly emerging point of purchase, especially on tablets. Devices are also increasingly being used as second screen, and for multitasking.
“No one looks at our site using mobile”
Similar reasoning can be applied to catering for users with disabilities, using assistive technology (AT) to access out sites. If using the site is made difficult, or incompatible with AT, these users will leave and go elsewhere.
How do we test on mobile?
The best way to test is with real devices. Given the variety this is no easy task. Nomad Device Lab provides a practical and efficient way of conducting testing across various operating systems, browsers, and more, by curating a small selection of devices that covers a broad range.