Writing for mobile devices. Three important aspects to take into consideration and some tips on the side.
As the world goes mobile, technology and design practices have evolved. Mobile First and Responsive Design are two concepts that revolutionized the way we are looking at the internet right now.
In this context content writers must keep up with the changes. Here are some ideas regarding Mobile First Writing or simply put: Writing for mobile devices.
If you did not stumble upon this concept until now, here’s a brief explanation. Because a lot of time is spent on mobile devices, it makes sense to design for their screen dimension too. Also, because it’s easier to complicate things than simplify them, you start with the minimum development and design needed. You create a website that works and looks perfect on a mobile device with a small screen. After this, as the size of the screen grows, you add more features and details.
Responsive Design goes hand in hand with Mobile First. Responsive design means that your content and layout automatically arranges based on the screen size of your device.
Just make this window smaller and you are going to understand my point. If you are already on a mobile device you totally get my point :).
If you like what just happened and want to find out more about responsive design you should check our article: What is Responsive Design and how does it help your business.
Here are three important aspects that you should take into consideration when writing for mobile devices.
1. The screen is smaller
This is the first restriction that you have to take into account when writing for mobile devices.
A long paragraph that looks ok on a desktop computer will become a wall of text on mobile devices. Images that are not designed in advance for a mobile user audience will look small and hard to understand.
Try reading an infographic on your phone and tell me how that makes you feel.
When you browse the internet on a desktop the content has more space to unfold. On a mobile device storytelling and a logical flow of information is a must.
One example of a logical flow of information can be found above when we wrote : Here are three important aspects that you should take into consideration when writing for mobile devices.
You now know that there are 3 elements to take into consideration. Therefore you are likely to read on even if you stumble on a wall of text :).
2.1. Time on page
Users that browse the internet using a mobile browser will usually spend less time on a website than desktop users. This happens more often to smartphone users than tablet users.
They browse with intent and search for precise information. Giving them some assurance cues that they found the right information might help you retain them more on the website.
Still don’t know what I’m talking about ? This is our assurance cue:
Here are some ideas regarding Mobile First Writing or simply put: Writing for mobile devices.
This tiny paragraph says that you found what you were looking for so you can read on.
2.2 Load time
Load time is another important aspect. If your site is lazy and your content takes forever to load, you get a guaranteed bounce from your visitors.
Also the user might need to navigate your website to find other information. Therefore decreasing the overall load time of your site can greatly increase your conversion.
You know that beautiful, sexy thin looking font that you were thinking of putting on your website.
How about no.
If the user can’t read your content because the font is too small or the font is so fancy that it cannot be rendered on a mobile device, all your efforts are in vain. Average mobile device screen size varies from country to country and from audience to audience. Make some research, use Google Analytics to understand your audience and pick the average resolution that best suits your needs.
Now grab a phone with the same resolution and check your website. If you have surprises tweak and check again.
Want to read more about fonts and User Experience. Here’s a nice article. Choosing the Right Font: A Guide to Typography and UX
To sum up, these are some guidelines when you start writing for mobile devices.
- Make a logical flow for your information;
- Divide your text in digestible paragraphs for mobile screen size;
- Offer some assurance cues at the beginning of the content;
- Be concise and and cut unnecessary information;
- Optimize your images for mobile devices;
- Insert steps and hints to show that user that the content goes on;
- Decrease your loading time for the page;
- Decrease your overall site loading time;
- Use readable fonts;
- Test your fonts and website on the average screen size of your audience.
The last advice and a practical exercise
The next time when you are writing for your website, open your favorite writing tool and set your paragraph width to about 2.6 inches (6.6 cm). If you like your text on this width, chances are that it will look ok on mobile devices too. If not, you know what to do.
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