In summary, user engagement, sharing and ease of use is so much easier on a full web application. When you're trying to earn the freak growth you need to get VC attention and all, it's best not to look at the outliers like Instagram, and instead focus on the game most people win at.
Even on Inbound, there's a big case to go heavy supporting mobile... but the Analytics suggest otherwise. Engagement levels are poor in comparison, and 90% of visits come from desktops anyway even with the new mobile-friendly responsive design.
The only arguement I really like for going mobile-first is conceptually it forces you to say "no" and strip your app and idea right down. What's important? What isn't?
Mobile is outdated. Everyone is browsing on smartphones which handle html fine and have modern browsers anyway.
But that's the point. If everyone's using smartphones, it makes sense to build mobile-friendly responsive websites? Hence the trend towards "mobile first" (for mobile apps and websites). What makes this article interesting is they're going back the other way, and qualifying it with better results.
I actually consider "mobile" (in its strictest sense) to be Nokia phones and the like, phones that are no longer being sold in large numbers and have outdated technology and were not built with the web in mind specifically. Modern "mobile" smartphones are made with the web in mind and display websites without a real need for mobile themes. In other words, mobile phones (smartphones!) nowadays display most website designs at a resolution similar to what I am viewing on my 15 inch Samsung PC. Responsive is great, a separate mobile theme? Bah! I am agreeing with the article's move to web-first design... but for different reasons.
Vibhu Norby states "We are not going web-first because people use the web more than mobile" but because of the depth of engagement via the web as opposed to mobile. He said " You can show [on the web] 10 different landing pages and decide in real-time which one is working the best for a particular user" meaning it's easier to segment traffic on the web than it is on mobile (according to this article) with less form abandonment and more customer retention. I hope the new product at Origami Labs does well, and on top of being an interesting story, the article explored some questions that I have myself as a small-scale web developer. I'm thinking that a responsive approach might be a solution that will display among a variety of platforms.
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