Out with the Old, In with the New: The Mobile-First Approach

Once upon a time, people didn’t have cell phones and had to send postal mail to get information to someone. It seems like that was ages ago, but that was only a few decades ago. Now is not that time anymore!

In an ever-changing and complex world, it is difficult to constantly keep up with the newest trends and master its use. Technology has mixed opinions when it comes to applying it to business. On one hand, it is a great tool to provide better customer service. On the other hand, it is another obstacle that one’s company must overcome to achieve the intended results. To better serve customers, companies must continuously learn human behavior and create services that provide the best user experience.

Image 1: Additional image added for effect

Particularly in this article, we will discuss the mobile first approach in taking on customer service. The mobile first approach has been advancing on the desktop first approach ever since cell phones were first created and became prevalent.

Hopefully this piece can help you understand the importance of the mobile platform or convince you to look further into the world of mobile user experience.

It’s a trend!

Over the last couple of years, mobile devices became more popular than ever. It is hard to find someone that doesn’t have a flip phone, smart phone, or anything in between. To combat this, Google, the world’s most popular search engine, has already began to focus on the mobile versions of pages first as evidence over their desktop version counterpart.

The graph below from comScore shows that the number of global users have been rising drastically since 2007.

Image 2: Number of global desktop and mobile users (Millions) from source

In 2014, the number of mobile users surpassed that of desktop users; it has been steadily rising ever since. With these insights, one can probably conclude why the mobile versions of certain things are now held at a higher standard.

Similarly, because of the high usage of mobile devices, companies now heavily focus their digital advertising towards mobile devices in response. Their products are now seen by more people as users stray away from desktop versions. We’re sure that we’ve all realized this, as we sit in bed and swipe through our phones before sleeping. We see ad after ad on just about everything we use on our cell phones; this is all because of the increase in global mobile device users.

Below is a graph that demonstrates the history and the predicted future values of the spending on mobile ads from a 2015 study done by eMarketer on mobile ad budgets.

Image 3: Projected mobile ad spending from source

It is apparent that from just about every angle, a mobile-first approach is something that is becoming more and more important in the digital age. As this happens, it is crucial to be able to determine how users interact with certain applications or web pages on the phone. It will create happier customers and a mobile-friendly environment for everyone.

So, what’s new?

As of today, mobile devices take up about 71% of the total minutes spent online in the United States, 75% in Mexico, and even up to 91% in Indonesia. What about in the future? Are new things coming to replace mobile devices? The only thing we know for sure right now is that accessing the internet or applications from mobile devices is more popular than ever.

Media streaming is a popular way in which people can stay connected with popular culture. Now with the advanced cross screen technologies that are improving day by day, it is more than ever easy to utilize applications across the different devices one owns. Its increasing accessibility and the individual ease of use will determine which company or cross screen devices prevail.

Aside from this, something that has recently become very popular is virtual reality. There are still many people that don’t quite know what virtual reality is or have mixed feelings about it, but many people are catching on and learning about it. It is forecasted that by 2018, the number of people actively using virtual reality will reach 171 million people.

So, to prepare and plan, what are the possibilities? Maybe they’ll be a switch from mobile-first to something else in the future.

Only time will tell.

Mobile Testing

In a mobile first world, how does one stay ahead with creating the best user experience on mobile devices? Mobile testing is the answer to the question. Only by understanding what people are thinking can companies improve the experience they provide for their customers.

On a website, if someone can’t find what they’re looking for right away, about 9 out of 10 people will leave the site. So, if the website isn’t user friendly, conducting mobile testing on it can detect exactly what part of the website is the problem. This applies to applications as well. Only by pinpointing where the mistakes are can improvements be made. As seen above, the number of global mobile users has been steadily rising as it becomes more accessible to everyone in the world. There is no doubt that there is already a high demand for creating the friendliest functions for people to use. Despite this, it is still very difficult to find mobile testing services that are easy and fast enough to use that gives relevant data to keep up with meeting the demands.

To really put everything into perspective, here is a graph with data from The Connected Consumer Report that shows the huge impact of mobile phones and specifically, app capable smartphones.

Image 4: Percentage of people that use smartphones around the world from 2012-2016 from source

Smartphone usage has become such a big part of people’s lives in every continent. It saw huge spikes across the globe within the last three to four years. Ignoring its influence is simply not an option anymore.

Desktop applications and websites are already very friendly, but now it is time to improve its mobile counterparts to the same caliber. We know what you’re thinking, this all sounds so complicated. There must be an easier way. The answer is yes!

How to conduct mobile user testing.

With the technologies that UXTesting provides, we will run through conducting user testing with you. In this demo, we will test the website www.savvyuxer.com from a mobile device. Let’s use two young professionals, Herman and Alex as an example.

Anyone can run this test from wherever they are. So let’s say Herman is getting ready for bed, but he remembers that he had agreed to help Alex test the mobile version of his website by the end of the day. He starts the testing right from where he is and he starts scrolling through the website trying to complete the task assigned to him. He is recorded the entire time that he is testing and after he finishes whatever he needs to do, he shakes his phone to stop the testing. The video of himself is saved automatically on Alex’s end.

Image 5: Control Panel from UXTesting

Alex sees that his friend had finally completed testing the website. To make his website friendlier, he wants to see which parts of his website needed extra help. He can watch his friend record himself and speak to himself during his use of the website. Alex gets very impatient as this is the 4th video he’s gotten today, he doesn’t want to spend hours on end trying to watch everyone’s reactions doing the same tasks. He uses a testing function called emotion detection to automatically sort through the entire video for him, and he can easily see where and when the website caused everyone distress or anger.

Image 6: Emotion Detection Chart from UXTesting

From this one example, it looks like there was one issue at the 30 second mark. Alex clicks on that marker and he is taken straight to the 30 second mark in the video. He sees that at this point, the website reacted very slowly, no wonder there was a spike of emotions other than happiness at that point.

Without having to watch any other videos, Alex wants to see some analysis of all the tests that were sent to him. He is able to see which devices his testers ran the tests from; he is also able to see whether or not his website was able to do its job in providing what his customers wanted.

Image 7: Analytical Data Charts as provided from UXTesting

His job is done for the day, quick, easy, and efficient.


With the increasingly popular use of cell phones, people need to find new ways to interact with their phones. Luckily, mobile testing makes it easy to create the best user experience in this mobile first world. What’s not to love? It’s a modern solution to a very modern problem. 

  1. Dave Chaffey, Mobile Marketing Statistics compilation, Smart Insights, http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/, 01 March 2017. (Last visited: 22 June 2017)

  2. Google, Trended data, Consumer Barometer with Google, https://www.consumerbarometer.com/en/trending/?countryCode=US&category=TRN-NOFILTER-ALL, 2016. (Last visited: 22 June 2017)

  3. Leah Eder, 5 Stats You Need To Know About Virtual Reality Marketing, Green Buzz, http://greenbuzzagency.com/virtual-reality-stats/, 03 November 2016. (Last Visited: 21 June 2017)