Mobile First? Sorry, But I Quit This Game

For several months now, After Nines Inc. has been wrestling with a mobile-first initiative. I conceded back in February that mobile first was giving me a big headache. Now, I'm ready to abandon mobile first. Or as I prefer to put it: If you can't beat the game then change the rules. You can start with a "triplets first" mentality. But what exactly does that mean -- especially for startups, website and app developers that are wrestling with Google Mobilegeddon? Here are some updated views.

First, some background:

  • Mobile-first, as most of the free world knows, describes a mindset where you develop websites and apps first for mobile devices (particularly smartphones) and then expand your mindset (or screensize) to include more traditional PCs and laptops.
  • Google Mobilegeddon is slang for Google's new search algorithm. Effective April 21, Google search results started rewarding sites that were mobile-optimized. Roughly 40 percent of top websites apparently are not mobile-optimized, which could trigger the so-called Mobilegeddon -- death by Google search. 

Clearly, mobile is super-important. And playing nice with Google search is super-important. But if you're a B2B business you can't suddenly push your PC- and laptop-based website visitors into the back seat. Think of it this way:

  • For years, mobile visitors were second-class citizens because your website display on a smartphone or small-screen tablet was lousy or downright terrible. 
  • A mobile-first focus can correct those problems. But you also run the risk of turning your PC and notebook visitors into second-class citizens.

So what's the solution to this tricky balancing act? Hmmm... If After Nines Inc. was kicking around any web or app development projects, I think our focus would be "triplets first." At least in the B2B market, you've got to perform equally well on large, midsize and small screens. 

Checkmate? Yes Indeed

Some folks think responsive design -- where your website layout adjusts smoothly based on screen size -- is the best way to address the triple play. My spin? Responsive design is only part of the answer. Think of it this way: If you're playing chess and the board size suddenly changes, you don't want your king and queen to suddenly shift from a prime location to a lousy location.

So what's the most optimum move? The answer isn't mobile first... Stay tuned.

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