There’s been plenty of talk about the need for a ‘mobile first’ strategy, and this does make sense at the moment, as mobile use overtakes desktop for many sites.

However, the long-term thinking should be around the customer’s needs rather than the device.

At the moment, that does mean mobile in many cases but this may not be how your customers will access your site in years to come. 

Who knows how customers will use your site in a few year’s time. Maybe even on watches… 

This phrase ‘customer first, not mobile first’ should be credited to Sean Burton (@analytdata) who used this in the discussion at today’s UX Day in Newcastle, an event organised by the region’s Digital Union

Unfortunately, I only had time to see a couple of speakers, including an excellent overview of the importance of UX by the aforementioned Sean. 

He made the key point that UX is fundamental to the web, and should be the focus before any massive budgets are spent on attracting customers to sites.  

However, you only need to see the disparity in spending between acquisition and retention to realise that this is not always the case.

Companies are happy to spend lots on acquisition, they are less likely to allocate the same kinds of budgets to improving the on-site user experience. 

Indeed, this is something we found in our recent Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Though retention covers more than just UX, the overall user / customer experience is a massive factor in this. 

Is your company more focused on acquisition or retention marketing?

Following Sean was Lee Duddell from whatusersdo, a company which carries out remote user testing for a range of clients (these testing videos are featured on this post on the new M&S website). 

Lee talked about five key things everyone needs to know about UX, which you may be able to pick out in this grainy image from @annarzepczynski

I found the point about responsive design especially interesting. There has been widespread adoption of RWD, and there’s no doubt that it can work. Indeed, we have a responsive version of our site on the way. 

However, the point Lee made was that it isn’t simply enough to launch a repsonsive site and satisfy yourself that the mobile ‘box’ has been ticked. It needs to work for those mobile users. 

There was an example from FatFace, whose sales from mobile had actually dipped after launching a repsonsive site. The team were intially puzzled, being unable to spot any obvious bugs or flaws in the site when testing it themselves. 

It was only revealed as a result of user testing. The responsive site had removed the ability of customers to pinch and zoom on images, a common habit for touchscreen users.

This made it harder for customers to get a feel for products and in turn affected conversions. It was a relatively easy fix, which has since been applied.

And this brings us back to the original point, which is that you need to design for the needs of users first and foremost, not the device.