Book Review: Mobile First

In June and July, eXtension.org had Luke Wroblewski give two presentations on mobile learning: Mobile First and Organizing Mobile Web Experiences. While I did not have the opportunity to attend the presentations, I did hear good things about his book Mobile First*.

I received Mobile First on Thursday and read it in one sitting. The book is 123 pages of useful material spread out across two parts and seven chapters. Part one focuses on why you should pursue a mobile initiative, some of the constraints, and some of the opportunities, and part two provides a number of great tips on how to make it happen from organizing content, controlling actions, input suggestions, and layout options.

Very simply, Wroblewski points out that mobile devices are being purchased at a staggering rate, outpacing computers and laptops, and users are increasingly using mobile devices to access the internet anytime and anywhere. Throughout his book, he ties back to current research outlining this rapid growth and impact mobile devices have had on businesses. His use of links to content throughout the books has made it simple to get to these resources. He used short URLs in a sequential order. Also, throughout his book, Wroblewski uses images to clearly illustrate points. While the text is clear to understand, the illustrations drive home the point.

Wroblewski stresses that designers must focus on content because of user time and money constraints. This, in turn, will result in better Web design. Through countless examples, he compares Web pages with pages that have been optimized for mobile devices. He points out that the improvements made when creating the mobile pages has yielded better Web design overall. When discussing the organization of mobile Web sites, he provides tips and guidance for creating navigation menus, button placement, and native smartphone buttons. He speaks at length about user interfaces as dictated by user operation such as one-handed operation and button placement for right handed users. Wroblewski discusses the size of buttons as well as how to locate them on the screen for best usage. One topic covered that I did not consider was the use of the hover or mouseover Web feature. On touch screens, you can not use the hover feature, as a result, this feature must be reengineered for smartphones; however, on non-touch screen devices, the hover or mouseover feature can be used. Wroblewski provided lots of great guidance for developing forms for mobile devices. Creating mobile forms has often been avoided, but he points out the volume of messages sent on mobile devices each year demonstrates a need for well-designed forms. Wroblewski concludes section two with discussion about layout. He emphasizes the need for flexible design that adapts to varying screen sizes. He points out that it is virtually impossible to create the optimum experience for all devices but there are methods for creating the best experience possible.

The book concludes with links to additional resources. Even though it was a quick read, I did learn a great deal on a topic with which I was familiar. I will be adding this to my resource shelf, and would gladly recommend it to others interested in this topic.


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