Easing into mobile product management

One of my readers, Gary F., wrote the first review of my new book on Amazon and it’s a very nice review (thank you, Gary). In particular, he writes:

This book is not a “mobile first” book which is why I purchased it. I needed some direction on how to take our existing content and make it available in a format that will look good on a mobile device.

I hope other web designers out there find the same value that Gary is finding. But more importantly, I hope Gary and others realize that as they’re learning about how to adapt an existing web site for mobile presentation, they are, in fact, taking steps that will allow them to more knowledgeably and confidently approach new “mobile first” designs in the future. How so, you might wonder?

As you hopefully already know, it’s important to think iteratively about web design. The web is an ever-changing and always malleable medium, which means that if you are designing products (sites or applications) that use the web, your designs will eventually change, too.

Even more important, however, is to realize that a web site is likely never perfect or “finished”. And by embracing this, you can actually learn a lot in the process. Which is how product management is intended to work. It’s the flip-side of project management, or the managing of something that is meant to have a beginning and an end. Of course, you don’t want your web site to end; therefore, manage it as a product — one that needs to continually evolve and improve to meet customers’ changing needs and preferences.

I write about product management in “Mobilizing Web Sites” because I think it’s an essential discipline of designing for the web today. It always has been (in a more casual way), but it is becoming increasingly important to do it intentionally with the rapid transition to mobile. By defining and prioritizing user-centered updates to an existing web site, you can start advancing its design by mobile-optimizing layout, navigation, typography, and more. In doing so, you will gain a much better understanding of the constraints that are inherent to mobile. This will then lead to additional progressive enhancements to address content, performance, and perhaps — eventually — a new “mobile first” design that starts fresh and leverages all of the new knowledge you’ve accumulated along the way.

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