Writing Content in a Mobile World
Settling in for a regular Monday morning meeting, we had to not-so-gently nudge a colleague and whisper “put away the phone.” No easy task as she’s one we might call a “smartphone-aholic,” checking her smartphone compulsively. In line getting coffee. Walking the dogs. In meetings (hence the nudge). Even while making breakfast. Sometimes it’s in her hand before she even knows what she’s searching for. Sometimes she’ll tap the screen absent mindedly -- looking at email, checking the news, calendar, and Twitter. And of course, the more she uses it, the more often the urge to look at it hits.
And really, what’s not to love? Those smartphones….they take photos and videos, send emails back and forth, allow us to access the web, and run apps of all kinds. They handle finances and manage agendas. They can entertain us when we're bored and they can find us when we're lost.
But as a marketer, smartphones (and tablets) have thrown a wrench into how we write good content. Though it’s a mistake to think your mobile site should simply be a condensed version of your website, having “mobile” content doesn’t have to painful and it doesn’t have to add more to your to-do list.
So, in the spirit of sharing, here are a few tips that have served us well. Use active language and bulleted lists, avoid foraging... KISS (keep it simple stupid) as a well known maxim is as good as it gets for mobile content.
People are on the go. Content must be easy to digest and directly to the point. We say it’s best to err on the side of being terse and to-the-point.
Remember, that screen is small! Vertical (up and down) scrolling is preferable — not horizontal. The challenge lies with the 320-pixel width limit.
Load time is critical, more so than ever. Your users are always “on the go” (i.e., I want it, and I want it now) so anything that significantly increases load time is to be avoided. Keep in mind also that Google’s mobile guidelines
Static is better. Avoid the use of animated content unless it is user requested. Avoid the use of animated GIFs, and make sure things like videos are click-to-play (play by default is to be avoided).
Page length. We say keep it to around 500 words. The average mobile device will only display 80-90 words before you have to scroll. So word count for mobile count should hover around 80-110 words per page.
Headlines Work Better Than Stories. Headlines (no more than five words) work better than stories for content discovery. Mobile users are fast browsers. They are looking for information, quickly. Every mobile headline should clearly state what they’ll find in each particular section.