Article by Francis Dunn
The classic design process is driven by the buzz of the persuasive idea. Since the days of Mad Men, ad men and women have searched for the imaginative spark that would ignite the campaign. First, the idea must be persuasive –
so brilliantly persuasive that it is naturally intuitive. Next, the idea is translated to the usable elements. Finally, the idea is expressed in functional forms: the ad and its variations, which drive the creation of the rest of the print portfolio.
From there, the print graphic gets adapted to the main digital platform, the website, and then it is further adapted to other digital communications assets, including video, social media, and, eventually, email. The digital imagery is adapted to the email channel, and once the email is created and programmed, it is “optimized for mobile.” We have arrived at the caboose of the creative process.
This does not qualify as optimizing for mobile. Assets that are adapted in the name of mobile are often not conceived as mobile at all. ClickZ Managing Partner Bryan Eisenberg succinctly contrasted the classic ad design process to the mobile design process:
“If you think of desktop searching, browsing and shopping
as sitting down for a full course meal, you have to think of
mobile as grabbing a snack on the go.”
Bryan Eisenberg, Managing Partner, ClickZ
Eisenberg clarifies that the design process for mobile begins in the exact opposite direction from the classic process. It begins with what can be functional, accessible, and usable, and what works back to the persuasive idea.
We begin with the lowest common denominator – the actual mobile device – not conceived in the abstract as it is today, but as it functions today: screen size, pixel dimensions, operating system, and the greater functionality of the mobile platform. We start with mobile, not end with it. We start with the limitations of representing message and design on mobile, but also, and more importantly, we start with the objective to leverage all of the power of today’s mobile computing and connectivity. Mobile is not a screen size to be “optimized” – it is an entire platform to be leveraged.