6 Best Practices for Writing Mobile-friendly Content

Mobile-friendly content can make or break your message. No lie. The proof is in the stats below.

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.

The bite

Some readers just want the bottom line. So summarize everything you’re about to say in a heading carrying a strong message.

The snack

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.

The meal

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.

Go simple

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.

AUTHOR BIO

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.

How Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Change Will Drastically Affect Your Website’s Traffic [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why You Should Consider a Mobile-First Strategy for Your Ecommerce Store

As mobile technology trends and usage continue to evolve it becomes more important than ever for e-commerce companies to focus their efforts on mobile users.

Expanding Mobile Trends

Mobile traffic has been growing steadily. By the end of last year, online traffic from mobile uses had surpassed traffic from desktop computers. According to an IDC survey, more than 70 percent of people in the US own smartphones, and 94 percent of them use their phones to search for information. Smartphone research on products is done by 79 percent of users, while 83 percent use their phone to make reservations at restaurants and hotels.
Google has also recognized the importance of the mobile consumer. Their Accelerated Mobile Pages concept was released last year and is already making an impact on marketing strategies.

The expanding use of mobile devices has changed e-commerce. More people are relying on mobile internet access as a much more convenient means of getting online. Any e-commerce business that doesn’t support a mobile-friendly virtual store is losing out on a huge market segment.

According to BizReport.com, mobile users spend 60 percent more time on their smartphone than any other device. They expect a good mobile experience from every site they visit. Furthermore, a 2016 survey from UrbanAirship.com reveals that 80 percent of businesses were planning to budget for a shift to mobile commerce, or m-commerce.

Mobile Friendly Sites

The growing transition from traditional desktop computers to mobile devices is driving significant changes in online web design and marketing campaigns. Interacting with the touchscreens of mobile devices is a different user experience than a computer keyboard or mouse. Developers trained to produce computer applications are now forced to adapt applications to smaller screens and limited computing power.

Mobile-first strategies mean aligning marketing and storefronts to the needs of the mobile users and their devices rather than desktops. Designing web sites for mobile devices should be the priority, not a secondary consideration. Desktop design can utilize more graphics and computing power for greater visual appeal and functionality. But this doesn’t scale to mobile devices well, so the mobile user is experiencing slow page loads, confusing layouts, or poor site navigation.

Mobile Limitations

Mobile designs call for reducing graphics and needless content for a layout that’s more suited to smaller screens. By using a mobile design, you’re creating a positive experience for the majority of online traffic. When you’ve perfected your mobile design, you can adapt it for larger screens by creating additional or alternative versions that include more content.

The mobile-first strategy should be focused on creating not visually stunning or feature-rich store fronts, but simple, user-friendly layouts. These should also integrate mobile payment systems and flexibility for popular platforms such as both iPhone and Android. Faster and easier access for an increasing number of mobile users will bring up conversion rates.

Powerful computers with wide screens can accommodate visually and programmatically complex web pages. Designers need to understand that mobile devices are more limited. They should be regarded as more primitive devices that may also experience unstable connections. Every button has to be necessary, and every function supportable. Mobile development should be oriented to economy of design, not needless overhead.

Mobile Design Elements

The smaller screen requires less clutter of text, imagery, and navigation. These elements should be minimized for simple, efficient flows between pages or processes. Mobile users expect their interactions to be satisfied with a few taps or swipes. Interfaces should provide a clear set of options and a call to action. It’s important to prioritize features and add more only where performance and objectives are not compromised.

This comes down to every element being designed with mobile users in mind. Lists should be short and easily scrollable; forms should be short, easily read, and require minimal text entry or multiple choice answers. You can use resources such as Google’s Site Speed tool to evaluate how page speeds are affected.

Mobile Payment Systems

A mobile-first design is only going to increase in importance. More users are using their smartphones and tablets to do product research but also for making purchases directly from their mobile devices. Payment processes should be easy to understand and follow. A faster, easier flow from browsing to purchasing will improve mobile sales.

A study by GfK reveals that as much as 40 percent of online consumers begin the purchase experience on one device but buy from another. While mobile purchases have increased, conversion rates for these users are still low. Shopping cart abandonment will increase for e-commerce sites that aren’t mobile friendly.

E-commerce platforms should be capable of retaining as much data as possible on every user experience. As mobile shoppers move between devices, they should be able to quickly recall their order or account information. Logs and timestamps can show you the exact path from initial contact to conversion. You can see which pages users prefer and which they abandon. This gives you the insights to create better designs and marketing campaigns.

A Mobile Future

Perfecting your mobile friendly pages helps you to constantly improve the experience for mobile users. Platforms that can detect a range of devices being used to access your site can provide information on what works best with all users, whether via mobile access or desktop browsers.

In summary, research shows that the use of mobile devices among younger and future users is only going to increase, while sales of desktops are down. Today, 21 percent of millennials don’t use desktops at all to access the internet. Wi-Fi and mobile devices are fast becoming the favorite computing option. All of these mobile device users can be shopping online anytime, and from anywhere. On-the-go consumers expect fast and simple interactions with web sites.

Mobile-first strategies are about designing e-commerce sites to drive more sales to a growing segment of online users. Mobile shopping patterns are not the same as desktop shopping. They require different designs and different marketing approaches. But as their numbers increase, a mobile-first strategy is the best option for sustaining e-commerce companies.

Author byline:

Eric D. Gordon is an independent business development and marketing specialist for SMEs. He loves sharing his insights and experience to assist business owners in growing their revenues. You can find Eric on Twitter at @ericdavidgordon