I attended an interesting breakfastÂ seminar about the Mobile WebÂ hosted by Netlife Research in Oslo 2 November. Eirik Hafver RÃ¸njum, Senior Usability Specialist at Netlife Research, started a discussion on the concept of Â«mobileÂ» in Â«Mobile WebÂ». If you use a laptop on a train, is it mobile? When you use your smartphone in bed, is that mobile? According to RÃ¸njum a desktop on a train definitely is mobile use, the smartphone in bed isn’t (or sitting on the toilet, for that matter). Mobile isÂ context, not device.
It is an interesting standpoint indeed. Traditionally we think of devices â€“ mobile phones and tablets â€“ when the Mobile Web is discussed. If you think of mobile as a concept for users Â«on the goÂ», youÂ need to prioritise core content differently than you’d do thinking about devices alone. Mobile should provide content and services suited for quick response and whatever your spesific target groups needs in a mobile context. You’d might want to consider location spesific services too, if your content is relevant in a local context.
In any case it’s recommended toÂ design for mobile first. It’s easier to scale up than to scale down, and a mobile first approach forces you to prioritise core content first â€“ which is essential on smaller screens and slow connections.
A good place to start is the site’sÂ user statistics (eg. Google Analytics) to see which screen sizes you should optimalise your site and content for. If you’ve got a noteable percentage of users with smaller screens than the previous Â«gold standardÂ» 1024Â xÂ 768 desktop, you’d know what to prioritise from now on and forward.
According to Jakob Nielsen there’s actually not that different working with content for mobile users than desktop. AsÂ Nielsen puts it desktop copywriting must be concise, butÂ mobile copywriting must be even more concise. Summarised it all comes down to reduce secondary information and services. Having said that Nielsen do recommend that mobile sites should have even fewer features than the desktop site.
To summarise, what works on the desktop doesn’t necessarily work on mobile â€“ and vice versa. Luke Wroblewski recommends youÂ toÂ think about what mobile is uniquely good atÂ and align it with the needs of your users.