My friend Tim just got back from 7 weeks in Sierra Leone. He was working in a couple of small remote villages and orphanages. Pretty cool stuff. We even had the chance to send over some intro to web design/dev books for the kids. They ate it up.
I was talking to Tim a few days ago, getting a recap of the trip, and he told me a couple of really intriguing things. One is that they have lots of snakes. Big ones. Ones that will jump at you, kill you, then wake you up to kill you again. And the kids over there just beat them with sticks like we step on ants. Shudder.
Something else that really fascinated me is that even though the majority of the population has never touched a computer, most of the country is mobile. And though it’s slightly better in cities, the connection country-wide is 2G in the best of times. But everyone has a cell phone, most of which connect to the internet. Tim said a lot of businesses even have websites.
It’s so easy to get boxed in here in the States isn’t it. To be confined to our little IE9-and-above, webkit worlds trying to figure out how our apps can support retina graphics effectively. I mean when’s the last time you thought about the people in a village in Sierra Leone popping open Google on their refurbished Nokia? I know I haven’t thought about them ever.
But guess what? We design for people. And it’s not just the people in the continental 48, or Europe, or Australia, or China. It’s the people in a remote village in Sierra Leone too.
So hey, that whole mobile first, progressive enhancement thing that’s been going around? Yeah, it matters.