Should we design for mobile by default?

Laid table at Xmas by WroteInteresting argument for not rushing into designing for mobile, from Richard Millington of The Online Community Guide: When To Design For Mobile – The Online Community Guide.

He analyses the figures for mobile use in the US, and the traffic via mobile to his blog. With the figures at <10%, he figures that there’s no rush to design for mobile, and that it’s better to focus on the platform that the majority of users are using.

And that’s certainly one view – and he has evidence to back to it up.

If you think about designing online information points as if you were designing a meal, how would you start? If I invite people over for a meal, I’m not just going to cook a roast if I know that a guest is vegetarian. I’ll sort out a meal that offers a great experience for everyone, not cook a chook, and quickly add on a shop-bought nut roast as an afterthought.

So, in terms of designing for all devices, including mobile,  how about the view that:

  • If 10% of folk want to access information via a device of their choice then they should be able to.
  • If a disability or other reason that might limit your web access means that you are reliant on mobile, then you shouldn’t be disenfranchised from using it.
  • Mobile access is often the cheapest – sometimes only – form that people can get their hands on, so they should be considered, too.

Ultimately, I guess I am thinking about the philosophical argument that, when we design information for others to read, we should start by designing for everyone, as a starting point. This is a key idea in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) (and thanks to Chrissie Butler at CORE Education for all the great conversations on this topic).

But whatever you call, it, I still think we should design for all, not just the majority, whatever the data tells us.


[Image source: Wrote]

3 thoughts on “Should we design for mobile by default?

  1. I’m trying to fall on one side of the argument but struggling – I suppose by using some free platforms or well designed themes for your sites they should already be mobile accessible… 🙂


  2. Thanks for stopping by, both:-)

    DK – agree. Increasingly, many platforms will work across all devices. I guess I was taking it another step ahead again and thinking about how people design content on those platforms, and how accessible that is. And for people who are retro-fitting (as was discussed in the article to which I refer at the start), the argument that ‘not many people use mobile to access the web’ is not really a solid one (IMHO).

    DG – Love the image:-) And agree, of course. What would happen if we got off the bike and went back to the drawing board. Would we still design a traditional two-wheeler?;-)


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