Mobile First

I was at the Event Apart conference today, sitting amongst design and front end web geeks trying to take in lessons from what passes as celebrity in our circles. A lot of it is highfalutin philosophies and principles (in contrast, engineering conferences are invariably about how many lines of code the presenter can fit on a slide), but one presentation resonated: Luke and his talk on Mobile First.

Companies like Google have publicly stated that they will design for mobile first as a strategy: it makes business sense, when mobile usage is exploding and is quickly supplanting the desktop as the dominant computing platform. Luke’s thought-provoking point, however, was on its philosophy.

Thinking about mobile first means working within the constraints of a mobile device, both in terms of a limited screen as well as limited computing power. These restraints force creativity: content requires curation and trimming, layouts have to be rethought to account for touch ergonomics, and site chrome and navigation are stripped away. What’s left ought to be the distilled essence of a site, sans the frills and accumulated crap.

Minimalism is chic, and the mobile device is a great tool to facilitate minimalistic thought.