How to Write Mobile-First Content
Don’t let the obvious constraints of a mobile phone fool you. In a study by Pew Research Centre, it was found that nearly 85% of Americans are internet users with 67% of them being smartphone users.
Just compare user experience of a blog on your laptop with your phone browser. You immediately notice a few, but obvious constraints about your phone:
- Smaller screen space with small text size
- No keyboard, it’s all touch or scroll based
- Finger tapping and not mouse or trackpad usage for selection
- Inconsistency between desktop & mobile UI’s
- Visibility of just a single window
- Internet connectivity
Despite these restrictions, mobile devices have fast become the preferred method for people to read, explore and stay engaged online. Mobile smart phones, today, are not only used to browse social media apps. They are used more and more to make bank transactions, online purchases for food, clothing and everything else between.
The smartphone today has made lives more convenient and faster. Whether it’s a smart phone or a tablet, it’s time to think smaller than the regular 15-inch screen.
There are special opportunities that mobiles offer to users and it is time to explore and take advantage of those opportunities. Significant focus then needs to be given to mobile phone users and their experience and engagement.
Smart Insights on Mobile Marketing
Much content is being consumed via mobile phones. Right from texting to accessing social networks. Browsing to sharing content; reading emails to replying and surfing the web to watching videos.
- 71% of social media users access their pages via mobile smartphones. The numbers are even higher on the iPhone
- ¼ of all emails are opened on smartphones. Again iPhone ranks highest in usability
- 36% of smartphone users use messaging app services such as Whatsapp or iMessage
- 17% of smartphone users use instant content-delete apps such as Snapchat
In all cases, users visit or access sites on a daily basis. For more details on platforms and their engagement visit the Pew Research Centre website.
Responsive and catchy web design isn’t the only important thing to grasp the attention of mobile phone users.
Let us focus on how text and content must appear on a smartphone.
With smaller screen space and a lot of scrolling, viewers have developed patterns on how the content is read.
Difference Between Mobile, Tablet & Desktop Layout Design
Just to give you quick overview of the elements mobile marketing involves, we chose a Mobile Marketing Strategy model by MoreVisibility. It consists of 7 factors:
- Traffic funnels
- Mobile content
- Mobile advertising
- Local opportunities
As with marketing in general, creating an effective mobile strategy starts with determining audience needs and finding the best ways to reach them. It’s also important to define effective mobile design and functionality options and decide what’s best: mobile versioning, responsive design, mobile applications, etc.
In this post we will focus on how to write good and engaging mobile content.
Out with the Old – The Golden Triangle
Users engagement has advanced from the old desktop paradigms of the Golden Triangle on Search Engine Page Results (SERP). If you have not heard about this, that’s ok. It basically talks about the way readers view content on on a desktop. This study suggested that most of the reader’s attention hovers around the top left corner of a screen and trickles down to the right.
Between the Old and the New
The patterns in which users are consuming mobile content is slightly different from the desktop. The main keywords to remember are the F-shaped pattern and 2/3 of the screen.
The F-Shaped Pattern
With the advent of smartphone user experience, the Golden Triangle gave rise to the F-shaped pattern. This is related to content-heavy articles and the way users scan the article. This is how users scan mobile screens — in three sweeping glances with his eyes:
- Top right to left
- Bottom right to left
- Scroll further down
You don’t need to take this to heart. It is simply the way a reader behaves! Thus, when you are aware of such a pattern, design your content based on these patterns to make it easier for your readers. This pattern is ideal for blogs or news related websites.
Maximum 2/3 of a Mobile Screen
In a study conducted by Briggsby, 86% of users’ attention spans within the top ⅔ of a mobile screen. This newfound information is key to driving strategic content marketing for mobile users.
The Importance of Visual Content
The human eye is drawn to images, more than just words or text. A popular statistic, known as the Knowledge graph, confirms that mobile phone users absorb visuals more than text or content.
An infographic made by HubSpot revealed that 80% of people remember what they see. While only 20% of people remember what they read.
However, this does not imply that more images need to be used for user engagement when viewed on mobile devices.
In fact, it’s the opposite. Using fewer images is a better option for mobile driven content, because visuals take up precious screen space. Since user’s eye is drawn to pictures over text, your actual message might go unnoticed. So, if an image doesn’t supplement your content, do away with it.
Mobile Text Content: Keep It Short & Simple
Being concise is a tricky. There’s always much to say, and you feel a few short words aren’t enough.
In the case of mobile writing, simplifying sentences is essential. This is mostly due to the screen size, thus reducing the users need to scroll. You need not shorten your sentences; just make them concise.
According to US News, “Reading long paragraphs on your mobile device requires concentration – something people using a mobile device generally don’t have.” So, you need to keep your messages short in order to attract the attention of your mobile audience.
Sometimes the attention of your audience doesn’t even last beyond the headline. Make your headline count, such that the viewer is able to read it in one quick glance. The right title could pave the way for a clear-cut interesting piece of content.
When you put together a paragraph, your intention is to put one thought across, in its entirety. Similarly, a reader considers paragraphs to be an entire thought.
All the above points must still be put in practice. The sentences must be concise, the paragraph must be clear and the thought complete. Without these key details you run the risk of losing your reader’s attention.
Write shorter paragraphs. Going through a long paragraph leads to a loss of concentration on a mobile device.
Remember, the way content is consumed when read on a desktop is different from a mobile device. It is thus important to optimise your article to fit the displace real estate of your touch phone.
It has been proven that mobile optimization is necessary for small businesses. SMEs can challenge the online authority of larger brands. But to be more effective, they need to optimize for mobile, too. For example, 85% of UK smartphones users have searched for local information and 81% of them has taken an action as a result. This shows how important it is for smaller companies to have mobile-friendly website as well.
Scrolling left to right to finish a sentence can be quite hassling. You are sure to lose the interest of your viewers this way. This is merely the beginning on the topic of optimization.
There are many tricks to optimize your article to it’s best. When it comes to links and icons, ensure they are readable and clickable on mobile devices. If needed, enlarging the text and font size will help. You may want to go a step further to be sure that the destination website is just as mobile-reader friendly as your own article.
Also, images are a great replacement to text for best optimization.
Analytics to the Rescue
If you aren’t already, get your hands on data related to your website and content.
Platforms such as Google Analytics help you understand your customers better. This is also an essential tool for market researchers. You can find reports on subsets such as mobile users and their patterns. Gain great insights on their behavior and implement strategies to optimize their attention.
So Get Started!
If you haven’t accounted for mobile users and their contribution to your content views, it’s time to rethink and get started.
Mobile phone users like to read blogs and articles online. More and more individuals spend time on their mobiles sifting through content, news and updates. So the golden rule of text or content still applies to mobile phone users as well – rather than writing more content, write better content.
Printed newspapers are a thing of the past, with mediums such as desktops and laptops slowly following suit.
By using the combination of good analytics and the tips mentioned here, you will be on your way to quickly grasp the attention of your readers!
Bio: My name is Alicia Honeycutt. I am a digital strategist and a beginning writer at Essaydot. I love to share my thoughts and experience with people.