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Instead of Mobile-First, How About Mobile-By-Design? Resizeimage 6

While this year’s NRF was full of the promise of AI and machine learning to enhance customer experiences across digital channels, I couldn’t help but think that while AI is exciting, sexy, and can probably deliver on the promise of great CX once fully implemented and refined (over time), what about a customer’s experience right now?  Whether in a B2C or B2B context, when it comes to interacting with brands online, one of the biggest complaints I hear from people is “Why doesn’t this work on my phone?” It’s a common refrain in reference to overall slowness, a particular feature not working, or just the ability to find the brand on mobile easily.

“Mobile-first” became a buzz phrase several years ago and while major players like Google continue to develop mobile-first technologies like AMP, and Progressive Web App platforms continue to evolve, many brands have stalled in their mobile initiatives. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking ‘mobile-first’ and start thinking ‘mobile by-design.’

Mobile By Design is Customer-First

The difference I’m drawing between mobile-first and mobile-by-design may be subtle, but I think it’s more actionable in both the planning and execution of digital initiatives. It uses the same general principles as Privacy by Design. Whereas discussions of ‘mobile-first’ projects are often fraught with heated discussions around breakpoints, frameworks, scale up or scale down, progressive enhancement, and responsive or native, these discussions ignore the central point of the concept – being there for the customer when they want and how they want it, which these days is on their mobile device. Mobile-first puts the technology first but mobile-by-design puts the customer first.

When you take a mobile-by-design approach in your initiatives, you dispense with debates around where to start the design process and which mobile features will be supported and assume mobile in the design, operation, and management of that initiative. For example, should you build in voice search? That’s not a conversation in a mobile-by-design philosophy. It’s assumed because it takes for granted your customer will be on their mobile device and will expect that feature to just work.

Customers Will Respond

Taking this approach will pay off for brands. While mobile traffic has been on the rise for some time, mobile conversion and revenue increases have made leaps and bounds. Over the holiday, Adobe reported one third of online spend was made via a mobile device and on Cyber Monday alone, purchases on mobile devices were up 55.6% over last year. Even considered purchases on mobile are on the increase, with John Lewis & Partners seeing an increase of 16% year over year. Even more telling, Deloitte found that 64% of consumers use a mobile voice assistant in their digital activities, up from 53% in 2017.

Get past the barriers of mobile-first by adopting a mobile-by-design model as you kick off your 2019 digital initiatives. Customers don’t have high expectations around AI right now, but if they can’t engage with you on their mobile device, they will move on.

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Kim Williams-Czopek

Kim Williams-Czopek is a Director of Digital Strategy at Perficient. She’s been a senior leader in several digital agencies, digital product companies, and served as VP of Digital on the brand side. She specializes in customer experience, commerce, digital responsibility, and digital business strategies.

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