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Mobile First Design and Strategy

Mobile First Design and Strategy

Mobile First Design and Strategy

When referring to mobile first design or strategy it is important remember that the approach refers to using the smallest device landscape and adjusting the design up and out as the screen landscape size gets bigger. However starting small, so to speak, then adding components as the screen size and orientation (landscape or portrait) changes is just a small part of mobile strategy.
It’s even more crucial when a business spends money on advertising. Research on which devices you’re target audience uses for each funnel phase (awareness, engagement, research, conversion) is important to understanding how to deliver, capture and convert each person.  Each digital advertising type has it’s strong suit, such as delivering the most impressions, clicks throughs or click to calls.

This is very important because  2/3 of the United States use smartphones, and 80% of those users do so to access the internet, in other words to consume digital marketing advertising (Emarketer, 2017). Once you understand the audience use the following is check list of components of the mobile aspect of a digital marketing plan.

  • Devices,
  • Operating systems,
  • Browser default,
  • Location,
  • Time of day,
  • Testing/User experience.


Device. The device tells us something about behavior, but it also tells us what components to include on each type of device. Devices play the biggest role in advertising. While we look at cross device advertising, know that 15% of mobile users only use a tablet to access the internet (Emarketer,2017). I think of my  grandmother whom has tried and failed at a laptop or keyboard computer, yet has been able to adapt to the ease of use and intuitive design of a tablet. I’m sure this is the same situation for those with toddlers, however, my children were brought up on laptops first. Cross platform advertising is important because over 75% of those accessing the internet use both their desktop/laptop and their mobile device

The following are the types of devices to keep in mind when thinking of the digital experience:


The following are common devices and considerations.

  • Handheld devices such as phones. The most important advertising must be presented above the fold closet to the top or before you scroll down. The message needs to be brief and powerful since you don’t have much room to sell it. Depending on your findings your clients may not purchase on handhelds and they may just be researching or visa versa. It’s important to know this so your call to action is aligned. For example, if your audience uses mobile to research, then learn more may be a more compelling message than, buy now.
  • Larger mobile devices such as tablets. Similar situation as to the above, however there is more landscape to talk about other compelling features of the business, service or product. There is also more room to accompany the advertising with design or photos. You may find that certain demographics use tablets versus others such as those 65 years or older are the larger make up of tablet users (Anthony, 2015).
  • Laptops with attached keyboard. It is faster to type on a keyboard thus more intensive transactions may take place on the laptop or other keyboard equipped devices. Also, consider that consultants, work from home employees, project managers, and those who need to take their work with them may be using their laptop. Thus, advertising or webpages may need to support week wiifii connections. Thus the landing page should populate quick or your form should not pop up on another page and stay embedded on the call to action/landing page. Also, note that the message may be different to these users. Many consultants work from the coffee shop, so a coffee advertiser may wish to target those who use laptops and mobile devices as their two choices for internet use.
  • Convertible laptops, with attached keyboards and touch screens. These have the same consideration at the above laptops, yet touch screens are many times used for face to face client interactions so people can make purchases at traded events, or pop up events. Clients can sign with their finger. Knowing this, marketing business app’s for on the go business may make a great fit.
  • Laptops with connected, extra screens. This is me, business owner, and insurance advisor. I have to take my laptop to clients homes, and transfer information from emails and searches online. I do have to say I get a lot of emails about setting appointments, which is the proper targeting for what I do. I’m on the go and I don’t have any time. Sell me your tools to make my life easier. Note that people can research a lot faster and deeper and on various platforms such as social media, the web all while calling someone from a click to call add with my headphones. Major purchases or things that can put fires out without the overhead of payroll is what I want to commit to.
  • Tower or PC computer that do not move and are stationary. If your target uses a desktop and purchases during regular business hours, you may be dealing with an employee who shops while they work. These people can’t steel away to go get groceries, clean their house or go shopping for clothes. They also need to get back to work so making it easy for them to buy is important. They may also be looking at what to make for dinner, so why not advertise for ordering take out to pick up on the way home or saving your seat at a local restaurant with the food being prepared while you are on your way.

Operating systems and default browsers. Mobile devices and browser defaults are important to understand. For example, my children have convertible laptops. The browser was not defaulted to Chrome, yet Chrome as a better mobile experience. The device is translated as a mobile device. Thus, when my children tried to access their online courses, designed for desktops on Internet Explorer, they had such trouble being able to use their online classes. I trouble shot this and made their Browser default to Chrome, problems solved. However, if an advertisement clicks through to a page and the person has a default of Chrome and the landing page was designed for internet explorer important call to action pieces could go missing or not work the way it is intended.  This happened to me personally when I searched Fandago and went to buy tickets, I could not but them, I was thrown into an infinite loop.


Location and time of day. Let’s think of the parent who picks up their child after work and commutes home. The child is likely giving the parent piece of mind by playing games or streaming while the parent drives. Or the teenager is surfing their own phone. Where people are when they are using and the time of day may tell us who is actually seeing the advertisement. Remember who you are targeting on these devices based on the time of day and where the mobile device is being used. I am certain that social media is used in bed, so knowing this may give the best time to advertise to parents.

Testing and user experience. This is the most important. When creating an advertisement, test it through the phases as if you are buying, all the way through to the purchase. Be the client. Try it on all devices, and browsers.  I like to create a matrix of all possible uses at each phase, awareness, engagement, conversion etc and list out all the devices and list out all the browsers and create an output using combinatorics to show all the possible combinations. This can get very large, so test the most likely cases.  For example a combinations could be:

Awareness, saw the advertisement on my desktop at work, which has I.E.

  1. Engagement, researched on my phone at lunch on my break, defaulted to Safari on IOS and Bing/Yahoo.
  2. Engagement, crowd sourced via Facebook in bed.
  3. Conversion, signed up for Stitchfix on my laptop at home which is defaulted to Chrome.

Testing paths and journey on the actual devices, not on the option from the browser to change views is key here. Touching versus typing is very different and can result in fall out.




Anthony, S. (October 30th, 2015). Which Demographic Uses Tablets The Most?

Emarketer. (February 15th, 2017). US Digital Users: The eMarketer Forecast for 2017.

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