3 Weeks of Mobile

October 21, 2015 •  design

I have just come back from a three week trip in Japan for which the only device I brought was my phone. This wasn’t really a difficult decision for me to make but after relying on it as my primary device, I’ve noticed a few things:

Feature parity is a big problem.

When I was abroad I still needed to do a few things to keep things running at home. I wanted to manage my finances, take care of my guests in my Airbnb and write. What I was used to on their desktop websites weren’t available. What we hear often is, “No one will want to do that on their phone.” I wanted to and I had to. Both of those cases were not covered.

Responsive is not enough. (Sorry Ethan)

While I have always been a huge proponent of responsive web and was one of the first to start adopting this and selling this to clients, most responsive websites are still not good enough. Content strategy is poor or non-existent and mobile patterns tacked on top of ill-conceived websites also aren’t adequate.

Native mobile is preferred.

When I could and it was available, my preference was a native mobile app. In short, they just tend to make better use of real estate. Unfortunately, the same problems which persist on desktop non-responsive and responsive websites still exist in native apps. They can be buggy and flows are not optimized for speed or information consumption.

Overall if my livelihood didn’t depend on a computer, without a question, I would ditch any laptop in favour of my phone. I worry a lot about “wasted time” spent on screens so using my phone for managing my life and nothing beyond was exactly what I’ve always wanted.

The impact of accessible information is so profound and has such a strong ripple effect. We’ve seen the impact of accessible technology on the developed world and the developing world is rapidly adopting mobile phones to gain the same access. Right now, we still have a long way to go and I can’t shake this feeling that we’re not moving fast enough.

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