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Is mobile-first strategy giving way to mobile apps?

Should your mobile-first strategy give way to task-specific apps? The answer likely hinges on the desired level of user engagement.

Websites that perform well across multiple devices are the hallmark of a strong mobile-first strategy, but custom-built mobile apps can improve productivity by expediting specific activities. How has mobile-first strategy given way to new mobile apps for digital tasks?

There are two aspects to a mobile-first strategy: content presentation and user engagement.

If you are simply concerned about presentation, designing with a mobile-first approach can affect full-screen Web displays as well. As a baseline, large graphics and beefy touch points make it easy to navigate content on smartphones and tablets, and also browse easily on PCs.

Responsive Web design is another alternative. If your Web content management system is responsive and supports dynamic templates, you can create the content once and adapt the presentations to the form factors and navigation links of different device types. For instance, menu selections that appear as tabbed choices on a full-screen display can be rearranged as a list for a smartphone app.

But there is more to mobile first than consistent content presentation. Beyond keeping tabs on the latest weather reports or sharing immediate thoughts on Twitter, consider how mobile apps can engage users and simplify work-related tasks. With smart devices in our pockets and handbags, content in the palms of our hands can expedite user engagement.

A mobile-first strategy can spawn a new generation of apps designed to support the micro-moments, when getting access to just the right information at the right time assists decision making. These are task-oriented apps that connect to multiple information sources and diverse content collections running in the cloud, and that provides the tools to mobilize moments of engagement.

In short, content presentation is only the initial step in the mobile journey. A mobile-first strategy can evolve to support task-oriented mobile apps that transform business processes, remove communication barriers and increase productivity. 

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