If You’re Not Doing Mobile-First, You’re Doing It Wrong

October 7, 2014

6:05 pm

“I think mobile-first is going to be the only way we go from here on out,” says Matt Galligan of Circa.

We saw Highway1 VP Brady Forrest and Galligan do a fireside chat at this year’s Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference around this very quote. True enough, we might not be living in a completely mobile-first world just yet, but we’re on a trend that shows we’ll be there before we know it.

Forrest and Galligan gave a great example when they asked the crowd: “If something was launched today, day 1, what would launch on the web first?” The silence from the crowd proved their point that people launching new apps and companies are rolling with the mobile-first option these days.

Circa, Galligan’s news app, is one of the first mobile apps to focus on this idea of mobile-first, effectively changing the way we read news. Consider how people used to read the newspaper for 40 minutes a day with a cup of coffee. These days, people are reading and consuming news on their phones while they wait in line to get their coffee: that’s the exact situation that spawned the idea for Circa in Galligan’s mind.

They haven’t removed the details of the story, but rather dug in deeper utilizing a process they call atomization. That is, Circa provides its readers with the core elements, facts, and cliff’s notes of a news story – and if you like what you read, then you can follow the news for updates. It’s paring down the concept while also expanding it at the same time.

“In the news world, you had an environment where the writers would produce a piece for print and web, which then is shoehorned into mobile platforms,” said Galligan. “There are definitely mobile news apps available, but not mobile-first.”

It’s a complete paradigm shift, but Galligan has had a proof of concept of sorts already. In only two years of operation, from 2012 to present day, the New York Times has not only mimicked certain aspects of Circa in their own news app, but they consider them a major competitor now as well.

“The mobile-first world is inevitable, but it is in and of itself a challenge,” said Galligan. “People have limited attention span, they expect to be delighted, and we have to do it in a way that’s not obstructive to their experience.”

Forrest added that a lot of this mobile-first mentality has already found a home in the hardware industry via products like Drop, Navdy, and Ringly, which hinge every aspect of operation via a mobile-first (and -only) app. Facebook even applied the mobile-first mentality when they split their messenger service away from the body of Facebook.com and launched it as a standalone app. These companies are translating web experiences onto a small screen, and the duo tells us that it’s crucially important that we forget everything we thought we knew prior to this and figure out the right way to get it done.

The trends don’t lie, and with experts like Forrest and Galligan backing it up, it’s easy to imagine a world where nobody develops for the web platform first anymore. However, that doesn’t mean the web platform should be eliminated. Rather, people who use web first to consume are entitled to the same experience that mobile-first users would get: a less bloated, more targeted, and succinct approach to consuming information.

On October 6-7, Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference is gathering hundreds of attendees, industry leaders, and inspiring speakers in downtown Vegas to meet the hottest startups and investors from around the country, learn and collaborate with others turning their communities into startup cities, and enjoy music, parties, and llama spotting. Check out more Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference coverage here.

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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America’s Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He’s the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he’s off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing…or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach.

Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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