An Event Apart Notes: Luke Wroblewski, Mobile to the Future

MASS MEDIA (in waves)
Print, Recordings, Cinema, Radio, Television, Internet, Mobile

Mobile is the new Mass Media

It certainly is mass and massive. More mobile devices (by far) every day than babies born on the planet. Mobile devices are eating into our personal computing shares.

New waves of mobile media eat all previous media waves. Mobile has indeed eaten all previous forms.

A new form of media always introduces new features or characteristics! Always on, portable, digital, social, augmented reality… the list goes on.

We have to recognize that the mobile is not a desktop. Our first inclinations are to copy what we did before (in the last wave). It takes a while to shed old paradigms.

StumbleUpon has been huge on mobile (as well as Kayak). They are doing a complete relaunch based on what they’ve learned on mobile.

Take what we know on the desktop web (today) and adapt it and optimize it for the mobile (today) and move forward (tomorrow).


passwords – forgotten passwords are rarely shown on mobile login pages.
Don’t remove things that are critical.
Use input and types and attributes. (autocapitalize, autocomplete)
show passwords – “Masking passwords doesn’t even increase security, but it does cost you business due to login failures.” -Jakob Nielsen
input masks
save passwords and let users login without a password (use single sign-on via: facebook, twitter…)

Set default to smarter option (like organ donors).

Adapt and optimize what we were doing yesterday and apply it to today. We can even make these things apply to yesterday!

Think to tomorrow: touch gestures, facial recognition, sms authentication
Step back and think about problems we’ve already solved. But use new techniques that have evolved since we’ve come up with the standard solutions we are regurgitation constantly without rethinking the problem. We can do much better now, but we’re so used to throwing the same solution at the same problem there is no more thinking about it. We don’t need to inherit the same issues we already have, let’s solve them by rethinking the original solution.

Why bother?
This new mobile mass media is always on, always on them and available at point of inspiration!


3 of 4 carts were abandoned in 2011!
We should reduce effort:
Removing unnecessary questions
Keep people on the keyboard, combine fields (first name + last name = full name)
Hide irrelevant controls (until they need them)
Set input types( type=tel ) use input masks, ignore bad characters. Credit card use input-type=tel for the numberpad.
Keep people on their keys

Check out square to see the improved cc fields.

Progressive Enhancements – use what best fits the device that’s being used.

Checkout for the futures:
Contacts API, Location Detection, Self-checkout and Scanning

Korean grocery shopping in the subway! Tesco, scan qr codes and groceries are delivered automatically.

Mobile is a massive new medium! It forces us to adapt and optimize our solutions and moves us towards the future. We should push for better device apis! Let’s agitate the blockers and the bug guys: Apple and Google. PhoneGap lets us do all these things already using existing standards! Tomorrow Today.