Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thinking Mobile-First Puts Space and Time Constraints on Your Design and Brings Out Creativity

Many product designers know that thinking mobile first, instead of designing for the web browser, forces us to focus on essential features. It is obvious that the physical space constraints imposed by the screen of a mobile device enables us to focus on the most essential features.

However, space is not the only constraint a mobile device imposes on the designer. Mobile devices also impose an attention-span constraint on the design. People use mobile devices while they are standing, walking, when they are among colleagues, while in a meeting, while at a noisy place, while in a crowded place and even while they are in places where mobile device usage is not acceptable or is prohibited by law.

Think about boring meetings where you check you blackberry under the table, restaurants where you check your email when your spouse visits the restroom, movie theaters just when the lights are dimming, the airplane when you check your email while hiding it from the stewardess, while in bed, while in the toilet and so on.

In mobile situations, people want to do a quick, yet important task that is meaningful and is of some value.

This is a wonderful constraint, that forces designers to think of large business applications as multiple small applications that bring quick, specific yet significant value. This is another reason why we should think mobile-first while designing business applications.

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