LukeW Mobile First talk in Toronto

March 6, 2012 - By

Last week Thrillworks sent a handful of us to hear a day long presentation by Luke Wroblewski (author of A Book Apart’s Mobile First); the man who comes first to mind for a lot of people when it comes to mobile websites.

I had been expecting the talk to be a lot more technical, but instead it leaned more heavily on the strategy and the thinking behind making lean and amazing mobile experiences (which is good, since technical things are easier to Google and digest online).

Luke’s biggest argument for designing mobile first is basically a “less is more” approach. Great mobile sites will boil down the content to only what the user wants to find / needs to see – the rest of the cruft is thrown away. He takes this a step further and argues that desktop should be no different. We looked at some pretty funny examples; “How do I make a reservation here?” he asked showing a screenshot of a hotels mobile site. The answer was obvious; this important task had a giant button associated to it. “How about here?” The desktop version wasn’t obvious at all. There was a small curiously worded link in the footer amid 100 other similar links.

For me the most interesting part was looking at the different layout strategies for websites. A site can have distinct platform experiences, use responsive web design, or responsive server side (RESS). It’s the latter that has caught my attention: using server side code to detect the browser, and serve the correct content accordingly.

A RESS website can have the same content, but serve mobile-header.php, or desktop-header.php as needed. This is amazing! Making a rough working RESS boilerplate was pretty much how my following weekend went down (using some Thrillworks code, so I can’t really share it, sorry!).

I haven’t read Luke’s book yet, and likely will wait a while until I do (for a refresher). In flipping through the pages it looks like much of the presentation will be included, and I highly recommend checking it out.

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This post was written by ArleyM