Answer (AtE)

Should my company's Web reworking design for mobile devices first?

Should my company's customer-facing Web redesign focus on design for mobile devices first and consider laptops and desktops second, or is there a better way to approach website design?

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This is one of those questions that doesn't have an easy answer. Sure, it is very popular today to say, "Design for mobility first," and then worry about full-screen Web browsers running on desktops and laptops later. After all, smartphones and tablets are sexy devices. Their numbers are just going through the roof.

But what does "designing for mobile first" really mean? Certainly there are a great number of innovative technologies on the market for delivering native mobile apps and mobile Web apps. As I've described in "ROI in sight with Mobile Web content management system development," it's important to consider the trade-offs between mobile Web apps and native mobile apps. Sometimes just tweaking a full-screen browser experience is enough to get started. It all depends on the business goals and what you think your mobile experience is supposed to accomplish. Keep focused on the factors that drive the business.

More on design for mobile devices

Learn about the balance in usability and security needed in mobile content management

Read about the choices available in design for mobile devices and mobile WCM

So if you are embarking on a Web redesign, make mobilizing your customer experiences one of your major design goals. Plan to invest in the core technologies for mobile. Expect rapid changes in the mobile development environments and application paradigms.

But also pay attention to the granularity of your content -- how you categorize and organize things. Be sure that your content can be automatically incorporated into many different kinds of customer experiences, including mobile and full-screen browsers. Don't forget search engine optimization as another kind of experience.

Here's the bottom line: Information architectures are a lot harder to evolve and extend than technical architectures. It's time to get your information architecture right.

This was first published in September 2012

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