This article was published on January 25, 2015

9 (often overlooked) things to consider before going mobile-first

9 (often overlooked) things to consider before going mobile-first
Scott Gerber
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Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at

Having mobile presence is no longer an added bonus for businesses; it’s a necessity. When taking a mobile-first approach, it’s important to remember that mobile and desktop are vastly different. Many elements get overlooked when making this transition, which can easily have a negative impact on your bottom line.

To narrow this transition gap, I asked nine entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

What’s one overlooked thing tech startups must change as they switch to a mobile-first approach to new development projects?

Their best answers are below:

farbood1. Beta Testing

Recently, Google and Apple have made it easier to get beta versions of apps into your user’s hands for testing and feedback. This wasn’t the case in the early days of iOS and Android, and a lot of entrepreneurs gave up on the idea of beta testing their mobile apps.

While entrepreneurs are quickly iterating and testing on the web, their mobile platforms often move more slowly and get less beta testing and user feedback. It’s important to not overlook the new tools that allow you to beta test in iOS and Android. – Farbood NiviLearnist

patrick vlaskovits2. Cost

Developing on Android is significantly more expensive than iOS. This is why many startups choose to go iOS first. – Patrick VlaskovitsSuperpowered


emerson spratz3. Product Prioritization

With limited screen real estate, we have new constraints for our mobile experiences: fewer features can exist in a smaller mobile environment. This forces us to be much more disciplined about how we decide what we build and how we value each one of them.

Applying a mobile-first approach to a startup puts responsibility on product teams to reexamine their product development process, which was likely created for a desktop world. This mobile constraint has significantly improved the quality and effectiveness of our own product pipeline, putting an onus on feature focus and continuous testing. – Emerson SpartzSpartz

brian honigman4. Attention Spans

There are so many practical considerations when moving to mobile-first development that organizations often miss this big-picture insight. Mobile consumers are juggling about a million different tasks, and they risk being interrupted from your site or app at any moment.

If you design with desktop concentration in mind, you will be misunderstanding your customers and at risk for losing their interest. – Brian

Rob Fulton5. Design

The bottom line is: is it responsive? You have to test it out on multiple platforms before you proceed with the next step. When you’re looking for the responsiveness in your design, you have to look at it with the most meticulous eye. What about the font? Is it working on the mobile platform? How do the graphics shift?

Even if the text is constructed to shift with the frame of the mobile version, it may not match perfectly with what you originally created online – you have to really consider these things. – Rob FultonExponential Black

Tolga Tanriseven6. Testing

Testing should be first done in the mobile environment, on as many different devices as possible. If testers start reviewing mobile views, that not only enhances the mobile version but also reinforces the message that it’s the number one thing to look at. – Tolga TanrisevenGirlsAskGuys

Andy Karuza7. User Experience

Mobile people, by nature, have shorter attention spans than somebody sitting down at a desktop computer. When developing for mobile, keep the experience so simple that a child could use it. Too many features can be a bad thing. Asking for too much information upon signup is a bad thing.

Aim to onboard and get people using the core function of your app in less than 15 seconds. Look at user experience examples from current market leaders such as Snapchat and Instagram. – Andy KaruzaSpotSurvey

Adam Stillman8. Source Code

While it’s always ideal to have native, a lot of companies don’t have the resources to maintain a dual source code (one for iPhone, one for Android).

If it’s possible, seek out solutions that enable you to have a single source code. It’ll be much easier to manage. – Adam StillmanSparkReel

zach robbins9. Simplicity

Starting with mobile cuts out a lot of aspects we are used to thinking about when developing for desktop first. To be effective, you have to narrow your scope and focus on the vital features and information, and work up from there.

The core content, features and design should be established and perfected for mobile before implementing tablet or desktop additions. – Zach RobbinsLeadnomics

Read next: 7 ways to refine your app’s user experience

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