The year 2015 was when the US market hit the mobile tipping point , with mobile-only users exceeding desktop-only users for the first time. Globally, the number of mobile users overtook folks on desktops for the first time in 2014.
Approximately 59% of smartphone users expect companies to make their websites mobile-friendly . Meanwhile, Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing, with 40% turning to a competitor’s site instead.
So here are the lessons we can take away from this:
a) Mobile is a very important way to consume content.
b) People expect their mobile journeys to be simple, intuitive and clever. They will punish sites that look bad on mobile.
Most conversations about mobile accessibility start with the design. Easy navigation, simpler templates, and adaptive fonts are all being employed to make things easier to read. But as a copywriter , it’s worth remembering that you too have a role to play.
It’s not just the design that needs to be mobile-friendly, but the content has to be, too. Your writing needs to work well with mobile. Here’s how:
No big words
Most wireframes and web mock-ups are designed for the big screen, and your vocabulary looks amazing sitting in the middle of an expansive page. But those big words will often get hyphenated in a smaller mobile screen, and will just look ugly. Throw a few of them in there, and they’ll disrupt the reading experience and increase bounce rates.
No long sentences
Same principle as above, really. Real estate for copy is really at a premium. Long sentences take up too much room. Try and keep your sentences short – and concise. This doesn’t mean mangling them. Instead, go over them repeatedly to weed out weak words and flab. Ask yourself how you can say the same thing elegantly in fewer words.
Chunk up your text
Broadsheet newspapers and print magazines get away with unbroken text. Marketing websites don’t have that luxury. Your viewers will want to get the gist of what you say in a hurry. Think of it as the bite, the snack and the meal approach.
Some readers just want the bottom line. So summarize everything you’re about to say in a heading carrying a strong message.
Some mobile readers have a bit more time. Think of them as slightly hungry for content. They’re happy to read a paragraph that gives them your main talking points. Here, never just take the top paragraph from your content and post just that. Instead, take the time to create a two- to three-line summary that captures the gist of what you’re saying.
Be hospitable and offer up a full meal for guests who are really hungry for your content. The meal is your full argument, presented well and carrying supporting facts and figures to make your case.
This approach is very powerful in that it lets users select how hungry they are (i.e., the amount of content they want to consume). You’ve got something for everyone, no matter their appetite.
The trick is to have the bite, the snack and the meal in the same screen or document. So, the bite can be the heading, the snack an introduction (or conclusion), and the meal the full body text.
Create lists and bullets
Your high school teacher might have thought numbered lists were a sign of laziness. But on mobile screens, lists and bullet points are a very effective way of linking together related content without using too many words. Lists also introduce white space, which tends to look good on a mobile screen.
Short paragraphs with sub-headings
You’ll see we’re developing a bit of a theme. On mobile – and in fact, on any device – it’s a good idea to structure well, so readers can skim. They will then spend more time on the bits that appeal, and speed-read the rest. Put breaks in the text. And write brief sub-heads that let readers know what they’re about to read.
So, here’s your “snack” for this piece. If there’s one thing that you should take away, it’s the need to go simple . It’s the one great trick to writing more effective copy, and not just on mobile. Remember – your audience is reading your marketing copy because they want solutions to their pain points. So give them their answers – as directly and fluently as possible.
Hisham Wyne is an award-winning copywriter, brand consultant and content creator based in Dubai. He has over a decade’s experience in helping brands get their messages right. From crisp web copy and zippy brochures to in-depth company profiles and analytical annual reports, Hisham makes words work for you – so you can sell better, gain visibility, and give your brand a unique voice.
During his time in the Middle East, Hisham has collaborated extensively with blue-chip companies including Twitter, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Harley-Davidson and Aston Martin, and helped government concerns such as the Dubai Internet City, in5 and the Dubai Design District.