Why Facebook chose a mobile first design

March 8, 2013

Facebook just announced a redesign of their site. As the changes roll out we can be guaranteed many things—endless news articles about the change, online protests to ‘stop changing Facebook’, some people leaving Facebook in anger, and of course emails from experts telling us they can help us 'leverage the new Facebook'. But overall I believe people will love the new design.

Even though the changes haven’t rolled up yet, many people have already begun talking about the focus on larger imagery. The comments are starting to have a common theme: this makes the site more engaging. I would prefer not to dive into the great people don’t like to read debate in this post. Instead, I will give you my opinion on what makes the site more engaging: It’s more engaging because there is a clear focus. The focus is finally the news feed and all the superfluous items that clutter the current Facebook page have been removed.

How did Facebook come to this great realization? They actually tell us. Facebook took a mobile first approach to their design. The quick rise of smart phones is less the result of having the Internet in our pocket and more the result of the simplicity and ease-of-use that apps and mobile site provide. The limited screen size necessitates clear attention to what is put in an app or mobile site. The benefit is that by having a razor sharp focus on what is important to your customer, you are better serving your customer.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet for some reason, companies insist on starting with a traditional web site and working towards mobile. And with all that big, tempting, screen real estate on the average desktop computer—all that tempting white space—who can be blamed for wanting to add and add and add and add….you get the picture.

Mobile first! Focus on what is absolutely important to your customer, challenge yourself to limit your content to that which fits comfortably on a mobile device, and then build from there. That is how you build an engaging site and how you provide a truly great customer experience. Isn't that what your brand should be all about?

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