Engage Mobile Readers
So you have a solid mobile-optimized website that passes Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. You also incorporated some mobile optimization best practices, and you’re feeling pretty confident. Before you get too comfortable, a solid structure and design for your web page is only half the battle.
Start With a Best Practice
Remember our mobile best practice:
“Watch your Language…Your mobile site is not the platform for exhibiting your Faulknerian prose.”
William Faulkner was famous for long sentences. In his novel Absalom, Absalom!, one sentence contained 1,287 words. Although Faulkner’s writing style earned him the Noble Prize for Literature, his writing style won’t do you any favors with a mobile audience.
Make a Plan
Writing well begins with a plan that identifies the purpose, people, and message of a piece or strategy. Mobile content is no exception.
Purpose: What would you like the content to achieve?
People: Who is the content for, and how will they access or use the content?
Message: How does the combination of purpose and people affect what you’re trying to say? How can you tailor your content to ensure that the message is not lost?
Order is important
The rule of thumb that exists for newspapers, is just as relevant in the world of mobile content. Keep your most important information at the top, or “above the fold”. This means that your first paragraph should immediately provide the “people” you identified above with the “message” you identified above. Readers do not have the time, or the patience, to go on a treasure hunt for your purpose. Don’t make them.
Tidy Packages of Content
Concise writing is the bread and butter of mobile content. But if we’re being really honest, concise writing is the bread and butter of ALL content. Present your readers with good information without forcing them to swipe or scroll, and assist them by using shorter paragraphs to break up content.
Paragraph breaks create a rhythm for readers that allows them to easily flow from one paragraph to another. When your paragraphs get too long, you move into the danger zone of losing your readers. Think of your paragraphs as tidy packages of content that house complete ideas. New idea = new paragraph.
Subheadings and fonts are other ways to ensure readers can find useful information at a glance. Make content easy to scan by sticking to fonts with high readability like Verdana and Trebuchet, and avoid using font sizes that are too big or too small. Ideally, your font should be around 13pt.
Short and Sweet
Keep the length of your page around 500 words. Most mobile readers are on the go. They’re on the train, in the park, standing in line. They’re not taking notes, and they’re not looking for the next Great American Novel. Buffer Social’s infographic is a great resource for assessing the attention spans of mobile and social media readers:
Witty headlines, short paragraphs, and concise sentences won’t salvage poor grammar. Proofread your content. Whether it’s a mobile site or a desktop site, this is your opportunity to present yourself as a qualified professional. Spelling errors may insinuate a general lack of attention to detail. Don’t let silly spelling errors ruin your credibility.
If you feel that writing for mobile is a huge change from writing for the desktop, you probably need to re-assess your overall content strategy. The best mobile writing practices are an extension of the best general writing practices. If you can effectively identify the purpose, people, and message, you will be in a better position to write in a way that engages readers and keeps them coming back to your site.