Web Design Tips: Mobile-first or Journey-Driven Design?

If you’ve been keeping up with the Dreamscape blog you will know that we are advocates of the mobile-first methodology for web design, and have written articles outlining the positives of this approach. But… as is true in life, nothing is black and white, and there are times when mobile-first is not going to cut the mustard.

When the idea of mobile-first was introduced several years ago, it was a great success, especially for the end-user. It meant simpler interfaces, prioritised content, and an all-round better user experience. Web designers rejoiced, coders rejoiced, and website users rejoiced! We had all found utopia and could finally put the argument to bed. Goodnight everyone, don’t forget your coat on the way out… What’s that? I thought we were done here? You, yes you at the back with your hand up, what’s the problem:

“Well my nan doesn’t use a mobile but loves to go online and buy things using her desktop computer… What about her?”

“And what about my 10-year-old son? He only uses a tablet to browse the web, never a computer…”

“And what about me? I like to browse first on mobile to do my research, then switch to my laptop to make purchases.”

OK, OK, quiet please! I can see the problem here… Mobile-first was definitely a step in the right direction and a great move forwards in terms of simplifying the user experience, but… It is a one-size-fits-all approach and as mentioned above, nothing is black and white.

So how do we account for the different requirements for each user-type, the different devices used and the different journeys taken? The answer to this is Journey-Driven Design.

Journey-Driven Design

Rather than a catch-all approach, Journey-Driven Design focuses on the different user journeys whilst on the website whether it be via mobile, tablet or laptop. Each user-type is different and will therefore have different website requirements. So how do we determine these user-types and user requirements?

The first step is research, research and… you guessed it, more research. Study your website analytics, ask your users what their ideal experience is, and find out what devices they are using. By doing this you can create user personas, which can then be used to tailor the ideal journey for each type.

Each persona will have different goals, different requirements, different demographics, and may be using different devices to access your site. By mapping out the journeys for each persona, you can then create a design for each journey type, depending on the device they are using.

To identify a persona, you should be asking the following questions:

  • What are their demographics (age, location, education)?
  • What is their job title and which industries do they work in?
  • What are their goals and how can your website help to achieve them?
  • What are their pain points and how can your website help to resolve them?
  • What are their browsing preferences (mobile, tablet, laptop)?

Once you answer these questions you will be able to build a picture of your user persona. Are they the director of a business? A buyer within the public-sector? Head of marketing? Or a student? Each of these personas will require a different journey to achieve their goals. Once you have identified each persona, you will have the knowledge to start designing the interface and journey for each one.

Testing, Testing and More Testing

When you’ve finished designing the interface and journey for each persona it’s crunch time! You now need to test, test and test again, to ensure that they help achieve the persona’s goals. Check your analytics to identify points where people are dropping out of the journey. Check the bounce rates and the device types your visitors are using. And remember, the personas you created are your perceived users and will not be 100% accurate. There is always room for some fine-tuning to make your user journeys even better.

To summarise, mobile-first is still a great starting point in web design which helps to simplify the design, prioritise content, and enhance the user experience. But, if you really want to take your site to the next level, improve usability and increase conversions, we strongly believe that Journey-Driven Design is the way forward.

Whether you’re a business based in Coventry, London, Bognor Regis or John-o-Groats, you too can benefit from keeping up with the latest web design trends. The age-old business rule of staying one step ahead of your competition still applies. Give us a call on 024 7610 0380 and find out how we can help your business to take advantage of these new and exciting trends.