Don’t Be the Last to Go Mobile-First

01 Nov 2016

You’ve heard the term tossed around your office, most likely from your communications folks —“our website needs to be responsive, it needs to function mobile-first.”

The good news is they’re right, the bad news is you’re late to the party (by about 7 years). If you continue to stall, you’re putting your nonprofit at a larger disadvantage when the next digital evolution hits, which could leave you in the dust.

It’s a sobering thought—it’s a substantial undertaking and a significant investment. But there is hope! What’s important to understand is that while you’ve waited, the process has matured. Going mobile-first today means capitalizing on opportunities brought to light through the practice of a responsive methodology.

Streamlining your message

At the core of responsive thinking is organizing  content to ensure a seamless experience for any digital screen. This used to mean concerns about the stacking order of your site’s graphics, or where to set breakpoints. But today it means opportunities for content strategy and prioritizing your message. What’s the most salient piece of information to communicate about your mission, and what can be left out? What nugget of information trumps all other content?

Oxfam Mobile-first Content Strategy Example 

The OxFam America site is a great example. Their use of progressive enhancement provides a system for content creation — for example, ensuring headlines don’t just fit in tighter spaces, but make sense in context. Unnecessary content (copy, navigation, design) is stripped away, leaving a quick, confident message for mobile viewers.

This exercise of establishing hierarchy to your messaging can result in renewed mission focus that’s easy to lose after years of uploading, sharing, printing and blogging.

Refining your budget

Prioritizing messaging has another benefit — identifying spend. For example, maybe through the process you discover your development message is the top priority. You look at your budget and notice it’s the most underfunded line item in your sheet. Is development set up to succeed in telling your most important message?

Content development requires resources and using a responsive approach makes agreeing on how to spend those resources a consensus-driven fact.

Identifying your online presence(s)

Mobile-first is an antiquated term. When coined in 2009, smartphones were just starting their ascent to saturation. Now we lookout for any screen — a smartwatch, a 65-inch OLED, an internet-enabled refrigerator, a wifi-connected car console. Digital communication is making it’s way into every facet of our lives. Deciding where your nonprofit will appear gives you a strategy for developing effective content and a manageable set of deliverables.

The Mobile-First Takeaway

So forget about mobile-first as just a headache endeavor to adjust your site’s padding and margins. Responsive methodology now has the power to fundamentally realign your nonprofit. It’s no longer the realm of gracefully formatted graphics that play nicely with your phone. Today it teaches organizations how to prioritize their message, create workflows, and execute mission-critical decision-making.

Gardiner Rhoderick

Creative Director

When not pushing pixels, Gardiner loves jumping into the nearest swimming hole and pretending he's in a rock band.

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