Viking Brain Share: Mobile Content Mandate with Karen McGrane

Categories: Events, Shop Talk

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As the I-SITE team works on an increasing number of mobile projects, we have kept up with the latest dialogue around how to approach design and development for mobile technologies. On Wednesday, Project Manager of I-SITE, Abby Fretz attended a talk by Karen McGrane on “The Mobile Content Mandate.” Karen is a widely recognized User Experience consultant with nearly two decades of experience working with national brands including The New York Times, Condé Nast, The Atlantic, and Time, Inc. She is also author of  Content Strategy for Mobile (published in 2012 by A Book Apart). The talk was hosted by PhillyCHI, the Philadelphia region’s chapter of the ACM SIGCHI, an interdisciplinary academic and professional group interested in Human-Computer Interaction, User Experience, Usability, and other related disciplines.

McGrane talked about ‘disruptive innovation’ – those technologies that, while perhaps not as quality as the related technologies that preceded them, become widely adopted because they make what was formerly not accessible to many people, widely accessible (she used the examples of the transistor radio, digital cameras, and the first home computers).  Mobile ‘smart’ phones are just the latest in a long line of disruptive technologies. Despite the fact that a large portion of the US population accesses the Internet on their mobile phone and a surprisingly large number of people ONLY accesses the Internet via their mobile device, mobile website and application design is well behind where it should be.

Design for the web has evolved drastically over the years since home computers and the Internet really took off. The design community engaged in ongoing discussion and debate over best practices for creating good user experience for the web. McGrane gave several examples of major companies that, while they have a mobile website or application, simply have not successfully utilized their website content to create an equally useful and pleasant mobile experience. She explains that only 16% of consumer brands and 20% of B2B brands have a mobile strategy in place.

It was encouraging to hear Karen reiterate her approach to content strategy for mobile. In recent mobile projects with companies that already have a website version of the same content, we’ve been focusing on working with our clients to really evaluate their web content and understand how someone might consume the same information on mobile. We have been emphasizing a content structure design that does not require the client to completely revisit their content or maintain completely separate content for web and mobile.

Karen explains that disruptive technologies eventually get good or they redefine what good means. Here at I-SITE, we’re excited to be at the forefront of this evolution.