I finally got around to reading “Mobile First” by Luke Wroblewski. This book is simply brilliant. It targets a wide spectrum of job descriptions. Developers, designers, product managers/owners, human factors folks, content strategist, and more.
Although native apps (along with their design details) are discussed in the book, the book’s main focus is on the mobile web experience. On that topic, Luke focuses on three main ideas in the book and discusses the design details around them. The ideas are as follows:
- The inevitable growth of mobile, which leads to new opportunities
- The constraints of mobile, which lets you focus on content & organization
- New innovative features that lets you think differently about design
One of my favorite parts in the book is a great analogy made by Rachel Hinman at Nokia that desktop is like “diving” while mobile is “snorkling.” Luke takes this analogy and adds further wisdom to it by saying that in both “diving” and “snorkling” you’re looking at fish underwater. Meaning that the core value of your website stays the same regardless of how it’s accessed. “So, don’t deny people access just because they’re on a mobile device.”
There are plenty of good quotes and takeaways from the book. I only included the ones that were really interesting to me.
- “There simply isn’t room in a 320×480 pixel screen for elements of questionable value.”
- “Reduction is the best layout approach available to you on mobile.”
- “When interacting with mobile devices, people are in one eyeball one thumb mode.”
- “When it comes to mobile forms, be brutally efficient and trim, trim, trim.”
- When designing for the mobile web experience, it’s very common to include controls/actions at the bottom of the screen. While that’s common due to the fact that people use their thumbs for touch, you have to be careful as to not interfere with the phone’s hardware buttons (back button, search button, home button, menu button, etc).
- Destructive actions such as “cancel” or “delete” should be placed uncomfortably out of reach as to not be mistakenly clicked when using other controls. Also, this makes people think hard about the destructive action they’re about to take.
- Set the user expectation. If you present the user with something that looks swipe-able, it better swipes or else the user will be frustrated.
- “The mobile web experience is getting better. Device APIs are being worked on as we speak. This will result in tighter integration between your phone’s hardware and the web browser.”
- “Welcome to mobile where the only thing you can count on is change.” My takeaway here is that we need to design our layout responsively, and adapt accordingly. Also, as Luke suggests, we need to accept that this area will be in constant change (at least for some time) so “prototype, prototype, prototype” to see what’s working and what’s not.
All in all, there is lots of great design details that make up this awesome, easy and engaging read (only 120 pages). It is a “must read” if you’re considering mobile in your company.