Best Practice Guidelines
In my last blog post, I discussed things you should consider when writing content for mobile users. Here are some best practices that you should implement when writing for your mobile audience.
Brief But Powerful
Mobile should not signify “web-lite.” Today’s smartphone user is tech savvy and expects an experience that mimics what they can do on their desktop or laptop. However, relevant brevity is key. The process of writing content for mobile should not be considered the same as “trimming down the fat.” All content, whether it’s viewed on a mobile site or desktop should be relevant. If it’s fatty, it should go, period.
Best practices for Web content say to keep page length around 500 words. Keep in mind that the average mobile device will only display 80-90 words before you have to scroll. Therefore, word count for mobile count should hover around 80-110 words per page.
Similar to a typical desktop experience, the end of content passages should use clear wording, buttons, short forms, and native phone functionality (map integration, direct links to phone numbers) to provide straightforward calls-to-actions.
Draft for Mobile
Web copy writers can have a rough view of what content may look like in a mobile using the following format:
Set your document creation platform (Microsoft Word, etc.) to a page width of 4.4 inches as this closely models the width of most Smartphones. Writers should type content in a 15pt font to gauge the fit of the content within a standard mobile device view.
Font styles such as the popular Verdana and Trebuchet have high readability and are easy to scan on mobile devices. For easy scanning, best practices include utilizing a larger font size on mobile, typically 13pt font for body text.
Mobile users often use their phones to identify local resources. Think about how many times smartphone audiences use their device to find the perfect restaurant for date night, or a doctor within 10 miles of their home? When possible, content should include an option for mobile browsers to access localized content.
Involve Developers and Designers
Along with the creation of mobile templates within your content management system (CMS) as well as SEO configuration, developers and designers should be included during the content creation process to confirm feasibility within the design and content management system.
The inclusion of re-direct links means more work in mobile-ready content creation. This also means longer load times as smartphones do not load as fast as a typical desktop device. This could slow down a user’s process or cause abandonment. Menu options can be placed away from the top of the page with a simple link to the selection at the top of the page. Alternatively, the your site should utilize Meta navigation on top of the page with simple text links to key sections of the site.
Key areas of content can benefit from their own, unique navigation structure. Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s mobile website (left) provides its mobile audience with an individual navigation area for those who are searching through the Hospital’s extensive list of career opportunities. This approach allows for a quick, easy-to-follow approach for accessing sought-after information.
The Power of the Headline
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. Best practices should include headlines that are no more than five words. BBC.com’s mobile site (right) does a great job of implementing this rule. Strong, mobile headlines will empower your mobile audience to be and stay in control of their web viewing experience.
Redirects Must Actually Direct
Do not forget about search: Have a list of the top keywords that site visitors use to access your site as well as those they use when utilizing your internal search engine. One of the biggest causes of user abandonment from mobile users is landing on redirecting links to a mobile URL when the content isn’t available on the mobile website. Mobile redirects should not break or delay the search process. They should support it.
SEO Differs on Mobile
The rules for SEO on mobile differ than those on standard websites and change frequently. As a comprehensive SEO strategy should accompany your overall web content strategy, please refer to: http://moz.com/ugc/the-definitive-guide-to-googles-new-mobile-seo-rules about Google’s latest and greatest SEO mobile guidelines. Your web developers should refer to: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2013/06/changes-in-rankings-of-smartphone_11.html for more information when constructing mobile page templates.
Tables and Graphs
Traditionally tables do not work well on mobile screens and may result in the user having to scroll horizontally to read them. Putting navigational links into tables may result in the user having to scroll both horizontally and vertically to see possible navigational choices. Where possible, writers should use content to depict the context of a graph/chart, or consider the use of an image or infographics.
Take It to the Top
Think about the objective of a particular page of content when writing for mobile. That should be the first line of that section under the heading. Your site visitors should not have to scroll significantly to find the page’s primary content. Introductions and opening statements should be avoided.