BDConf: Josh Clark presents The Seven Deadly Myths of Mobile

In The Seven Deadly Myths of Mobile, Josh Clark (@globalmoxie) debunks popular mobile misconceptions with the tenacity of a bulldog.

  • Mobile designers are anthropologists. We need to learn about our users to uncover the best mobile solutions
  • We tend to oversimplify mobile use cases. This results in dumbed-down, patronizing mobile apps.

Mobile Myth #1: users are on the go and rushed

  • Users are rushed and on the go. You have to anticipate those use cases, but there’s a lot more to it that that.
  • Knee-jerk reaction is to build a “light version”.
  • Users expect to be able to do anything they can do on the desktop. Don’t arbitrarily gut content for mobile sites.
  • eBay sells over 2500 cars per week via mobile apps
  • 28% of mobile web users rarely or never use the desktop web. For many people, mobile IS the primary browser.

Myth #2: Mobile = Less

  • Jacob Nielsen is ass backwards on mobile. He advocates for cutting content and features for mobile, and only offering
  • This mentality is wrong and damaging.
  • The myth that “mobile = less”mentality is wrong and damaging. Don’t confuse context with intent.
  • Removing content for mobile is like removing chapters from a book simply because it’s in paperback format
  • If you cut to much, the result can be a condescending user experience

Myth #3: Complexity is a dirty word

  • People don’t want dumbed-down apps, they want uncomplicated apps. There’s a difference
  • Understand user goals. Remove the cruft that isn’t relevant to solving those user goals.
  • It’s challenging to make complexity effortless.
  • Facebook’s initial mobile app was stripped down, which angered many users.
  • Don’t disclose too much at once. Balance complexity with legibility.
  • Clarity should trump density.

Myth #4: Extra taps and clicks are evil

  • Each tap should add value to the user experience
  • Extra taps should get users to their goals
  • Progressive Disclosure. Every screen should have a primary task, and push secondary content onto separate screens
  • Make sure users know secondary content exists. It’s important to show that secondary content exists, but revealing a hint every single time can be annoying.
  • A user experience should be consumed one bite at a time. But don’t just stop at one bite. Deliver a full meal.
  • Mobile = More
  • Mobile = More. Mobile can do things other contexts can’t. Think about the capabilities and how to exploit them.
  • Progressively enhance a core experience.

Myth #5: You Gotta have a mobile website

  • Dont think “mobile web site”, think “mobile web experience”.
  • Dont reroute to different URLs. Content should live under 1 roof.
  • Responsive design isn’t the only answer, but it can be part of the equation.
  • It’s hard to elegantly fit the kitchen sink into mobile.
  • It’s hard to elegantly fit the kitchen sink. Edit content first so only relevant information remains across the board.
  • Focus is a key principle of the mobile first philosophy
  • Don’t get caught up on each channel. Instead, focus on content strategy across all channels.
  • Content and API first.

Myth #6: Mobile is about apps

  • It’s exhausting to build and maintain
  • An app is not a strategy, it’s just an app.
  • It’s about the content and services, an app is just one container.
  • Don’t get caught up in presentation across platforms. Our content is going more places and we have less time to control every pixel across all channels.
  • Think of our content like water, that’s able to take the form of whatever container it gets poured into a multitude of containers.
  • Users expect the experience to flow seamlessly across channels. Get content. Anytime. Anywhere.
  • We’re all cloud developers now. It’s all about HTTP requests.
  • We need to be future-friendly.

Myth #7: CMS & API are for database nerds.

  • We all have to care about content design and workflow. It takes everyone working together to bring cross-channel experiences to fruition.
  • “Metadata is the new art direction.”
  • Metadata creates opportunities to enhance the content across contexts.
  • it’s not the design you want to repurpose, it’s the content you want to recreate across the board.
  • Don’t shoe-horn design conventions from old contexts into new contexts. The content should be uniform, but the design should be unique.
  • Our jobs are getting harder. We’re confronted by many screens. We have to embrace uncertainty and step up to the plate to make truly amazing things.


  1. Thank you so much for publishing the notes from the bdconf. Super helpful.

  2. Bold and excellent.

    We are implementing responsive design for an application (closing in on a million registered customers) with lots of different product/subscription order wizards. One of the many things we learned from taking the “desktop design” to a responsive design was how much text, including headings, instructions, form field information, and more, that was completely overkill on the desktop version. By keeping “mobile first” in mind, we de-complexified the existing solution and improved usability for all types of viewing device. Even for older versions of IE, even though they don’t get the full responsive design treat.

    Thanks again.

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