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Should the business analyst identify separate use cases for mobile devices?

Posted by Chris Adams

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As business analysts we all intuitively understand that designing for mobile devices comes with some challenges, the most obvious being the lack of display real estate. When considering mobile, the most immediate word that may come to mind is responsive design (though in reality responsive design is important for dealing with a variety of large screen sizes as well)


Responsive design has two major components:


  • Adapting the layout of content - this is achieved with flexible grid layouts and media queries

  • Adjusting the content displayed - realizing that some based on context some content may need to be adjusted, abbreviated, or not displayed at all


So what does this have to do with use cases?



As we noted, responsive design is also about adjusting the content that is displayed to the user.  Users on mobile devices often have different goals than users on larger screen formats. Therefore, yes, the business analyst should take the time to identify mobile-specific use cases.  There may be much overlap between full screen use cases versus mobile use case.  But there will almost certainly be some that are unique to the mobile experience.  



Consider a renter who is looking for a new apartment.  The majority of the research will likely be performed on a desktop or laptop computer. The renter will be concerned with information such as location, apartment availability, square footage, pricing, amenities, and will want to review high resolution photos to help them make their decision. However, that same user when viewing the website on a mobile device probably has a much smaller and more specific set of goals. When accessing via a mobile device there is a good chance they are on the go, and the primary information they might be looking for is a contact number and the apartment address.  It’s important for this information to be easily accessible and prominently displayed.  Large high resolution pictures are probably no longer desired.  These are obviously generalizations but you can see the benefits of having differing content presented to users when viewing from different screen sizes.



Creating excellent responsive design means thinking through the context in which users will be interacting with your content and adjusting it to meet their needs. Hence the need for mobile-specific user cases.

Chris Adams
LinkedIn Profile




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