Key Takeaway of Josh Clark’s “Seven Deadly Mobile Myths”
I attended a Drupal Camp Atlanta in late October and was lucky enough to see the keynote, “Seven Deadly Mobile Myths, by designer/author Josh Clark.
Clark is a preeminent expert in the field of responsive web design, which holds that websites should be designed to respond to the parameters of the devices they are being viewed on. Instead of building separate sites and apps for desktop, tablet and mobile, responsive web design says to build one site that senses the type of device it is being accessed from and automatically optimizes its content accordingly.
I won’t summarize Clark’s presentation, but I would like to spend a moment discussing his main conclusion, which may sound familiar to you. Here it is:
What matters is not the app, or the site, or the platform. What matters is your content and the service it provides to your users.
Why do I think this may sound familiar to you? Because after every major disruption in interactive technology, it’s the conclusion we always come back to.
Anybody remember CD-ROMs? Back in the early ‘90s, CD-ROMs were the “it” platform, the ideal way to present multimedia content. Businesses rushed to produce CD-ROMS so as not to be left behind. But inevitably, many businesses found their CD-ROMs didn’t perform up to their expectations.
Then the Web exploded. Suddenly CD-ROMs were old tech and websites were cutting edge. And within the Web era itself, there have been multiple mini-disruptions, for sites built with “frames,” sites built with Flash, sites built with CSS, or sites built on this or that development platform. And each time, businesses rush to get on the new bandwagon, with many of them again failing to capitalize as they had hoped.
Today, everyone who hasn’t already done so is rushing to “go mobile,” to develop apps or sites that work on smartphones and tablets. And it’s the same thing all over again: many businesses see their competition succeeding through mobile and rush to join in, only to achieve mediocre results themselves.
What’s going on here? When it comes to exploiting disruptive technologies, what separates the winners from the losers? According to Josh Clark, the mistake so many of us make is to focus on the technology at the expense of the content and the service it provides.
“Your product is not an app,” is how Clark puts it. In the interactive realm, your product, he says, is your content.
Focussing on delivering good content and services is what makes the dog wag his tail. Focussing on the technology (web vs. mobile, mobile site vs. mobile app, iOS vs. Android, etc.) makes the tail wag the dog.
To a large extent, it really is that simple. But every few years we need someone like Josh Clark to cut through the hype and remind us of it.
Is your web strategy driven by the latest technology trend or guided by strong fundamentals of content and user benefit?