Mobile Strategies

Tablets, Mobile Devices

Let’s get small to go big

21 August 2013 · By Chuck Blevins

A big lesson already learned on mobile — smaller and cleaner is better — should be applied to the larger Web, as well.

“We need to embrace a device-agnostic approach to communicating with connected consumers and forget the idea of a ‘mobile Internet.’ There is only One Web to experience.” — Marek Wolski, senior strategist at Mobiento, an international creative mobile agency, from a February 25 opinion article in Smashing Magazine.

A reader doesn’t consider herself “mobile” or “desktop-ed.” She’s just surfing the Web. As a result, she expects everything available on the standard site to be available, no matter what device she uses.

This is not news. Many of us have built responsive Web sites and improved mobile versions of our sites. We all have been discussing the “impact” of mobile upon our industry – this impact carries on past the mobile devices themselves.

  • Google has been adjusting its product presentations to support a “carded” look (the basic presentation on Google Glass), which also translates well within responsive Web designs.

  • Facebook has invested heavily on mobile products and operations (again with the carded objects).

  • Yahoo has been churning out updates to its mobile apps – like weather and Flikr – and associated sites.

  • See also: Flipboard, Rebel Mouse, Pinterest, and Rockmelt.

In all these cases, there’s been a reciprocal impact on the standard site offerings and presentations, even when the standard site isn’t responsive.

Wolski again: “If a piece of text or an image is good enough in a ‘mobile short’ format, if it communicates strongly and concisely what we need, why do we need more on a desktop?”

The small screens of smartphones and tablets force us to strip away all the packaging cruft that’s built up on the standard Web sites over time. That, and acceptance that readers generally don’t look beyond the home page (just as on standard Web), require the design and content be simple and clearly focused.

This forces us to be clear about what we’re offering – ideally, truer to the heart of the product. And also more realistic about what the readers want.

This clarity and focus should carry back to the design and programming of the standard screen Web site. All larger designs step from there, with additional elements reasonably added as things scale up, based on how they contribute to the product focus.

Looking at Google+, Facebook, Yahoo!, and other mobile leaders, we see just that focus – lessons learned on mobile are used to clarify and shape the larger Web.

In reality, mobile is not Web-light, but in fact Web-core. Let’s all get small.

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Chuck Blevins
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Cox Media Group Newspapers
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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