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What form factor should we start with, when the boss asks for "mobile" wireframes?

Should we choose phone, full-sized tablet, or "mini" tablet - and why?

I am finding the Nexus 7 a good starting point - it supports side menu layouts, but doesn't leave a lot of room for extraneous placeholder data.

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This is primarily a marketing data-driven question. The "optimal" answer may change in the future. –  Deer Hunter May 17 '13 at 7:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Start with the smallest form factor first (in your case the phone) since the lack of space will give you the opportunity to require you to define the primary focus of the app and what is the primary content that must be provided to allow the user to do his task and not allow you to add too much extraneous stuff.

While moving up to higher form factors, ensure your primary task is the main interaction point on the screen and the elements you add augment the user to perform that task or at least guide him towards performing the task.

What I suggesting is technically just a variation of the Mobile first approach except you dont scale up to a really large form factor later.

I also recommend looking at this article Why it is smarter to build Mobile first! for inputs on why a the smallest form factor as a starting point might help.

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Luke Wroblewski has been advocating Mobile First for a long time. He literally wrote the book on the topic, which is worth reading. –  Kit Grose May 17 '13 at 0:31

Tablet is an excellent conceptual bridge between mobile and desktop. It is not, however, often the primary profit driver. It's very important to keep this in mind.

I still tend to work on desktop first, accounting for touch affordances and critical path as I go. That's because, though mobile is on the rise for my clients, most of the dollars are still coming from the desktop site.

Many content sites now see the bulk of their traffic coming in on mobile, so they need to start there. They often have the added pain of sorting out monetization in that limited space.

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I'd scale with the most common to your organization / project / country / target audience.

I often find mobile inadequate: a cheap android's screen is simply too small for anything useful, and no matter what, the device will be held around arm-length, and it just won't magically scale up: the "window" to the virtual reality inside just doesn't occupy too much space out of the user's view.

But if most of your users have such screen sizes, that's the way to go.

Or, you can play for buy-in: design first for the screen your managers/customers have. Sooner-or-later you'll have to design for the most common screenfactors anyway.

In responsive design, the question is not about how it should look like on one device: the question is how does it scale.

And that's about 2-3 designs at least.

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It depends on what problem you are addressing? What is the task being performed, who is the user, and what is the context. You may be able to offer both solutions (and a Desktop one) by designing a task flow using the same data in different ways even.

We use different UIs and devices around the same data all the time, for example on LinkedIn or eBay (see the eBay example here):

https://blogs.oracle.com/VOX/entry/the_cloud_user_experience_changing

I don't think it's a case of either a smart phone or a tablet but the optimized UI platform for the task being addressed.

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