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An Event Apart: The Mobile Content Mandate


At An Event Apart – Austin 2013, Karen McGrane shared some interesting facts and statistics on mobile web usage and her thoughts on disruptive innovation.

Here are my take-aways from the talk:

  • Some will say, “Why would anyone want to do ____________ on mobile?” It could be something like, do your taxes, apply for a job, etc. This sort of question limits us and discounts the fact that many of the world’s developing countries, poor and minorities can only access the Internet from a mobile device.
  • Disruptive Innovation = a product/service that is inferior in many ways comes out but ends up creating a brand new market of customers for their ‘inferior’ product or service
    • Examples of disruptive innovation include:
      • large, high quality furniture-sized radios vs smaller plastic radios
      • Offset printers vs desktop printers
      • DSLR camera vs smartphone camera
      • Kodak (bankrupt) vs Instagram (sold for 1 billion)
      • Desktop Internet vs mobile Internet
      • The connection I made and the example I can’t stop thinking about: DIY website solutions like Google Sites, SquareSpace, etc vs hiring a web designer/developer
  • The mobile-only user – someone who only accesses the Internet through their mobile devices
    • 45% of low-income people
    • 45% high school students
    • 60% Hispanics
    • 50% young adults
    • By not making the web mobile-friendly, we make a second-class Internet for people who might already feel like a second-class citizen
  • “Browsing the web on mobile can sometimes be like reading the web through a toilet paper roll” —Karen McGrane
  • There is no such thing as ‘writing for mobile’, there is just good writing. If it’s good enough for mobile, it should be on your regular desktop website.
  • Good content transcends platform
  • Responsive design won’t fix your content problems
  • Don’t ask, “Why do that on mobile?” Ask, “What else can we do on mobile?”

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