Smaller screens, dual-screening and a constant on-the-go environment make writing for mobile a lot trickier. Here are some top tips for mobile copywriting…
Consider both types of mobile user
Research suggests that mobile web users fall into 2 camps. As a writer, your job is to ensure that you cater for both behaviours.
There’s the task-focused user, who turns to their phone or tablet while out and about to complete a task or solve a problem such as checking an address, booking a restaurant, finding a phone number or doing some quick shopping.
Then there’s the time-killing user. This person has a bit of downtime during their busy day and turns to their device for entertainment. Maybe they’re waiting for a friend and want to read a news article to pass the time, or they’re looking for distraction on a long train journey.
Think about what people want to do on the move
For both task-focused and time-killing users, you need to focus your content and your navigation. The task-focused person needs a smooth user journey with highly visible and intuitively worded calls to action. The time-killer needs plenty of content presented on one scrollable, scannable page so they don’t have to keep tapping and loading new content.
Cut down your content
For your mobile-optimised website, you’ll need to cut out everything but the essential information users need, and the core navigational elements to help them move around the site in as few taps as possible.
As we noted recently, a sentence which takes up 2 lines on your computer screen could take up an entire mobile screen.
Write for the hyper-distracted user
Small screens, multiple apps and functions, dual-screening, and a busy, on-the-go context of use all conspire to make mobile web the most challenging platform yet for the online copywriter. So to get your message across, you need to write in succinct, plain language – no word-play, preamble or long-winded digressions. Make sure your copy is tightly focused on user benefits rather than your point of view or priorities.
Tapping and scrolling, not pointing and clicking
The much-maligned call-to-action ‘click here’ is not only unhelpful on a mobile site, it sticks out a mile as a marker of a desktop-first mindset. Your user isn’t clicking a mouse – he or she is tapping a touchscreen, so it’s essential to replace ‘click here’ with something less device-specific eg ‘see more menswear’ or ‘read our blog post.’
The other change in interface behaviour is scrolling. On a desktop set-up, moving below the fold on a web page can be a laborious and fiddly task. On a tablet or smartphone, however, the same job is done with a quick and satisfying swipe of the fingertip. As a result, mobile-first pages can be spread out over several vertical screens.
Make your link text easy to tap
Smartphone screens are small, and touchscreen responsiveness can be unreliable, meaning links that are small or too close together can be difficult to interact with.
Help users out by writing link text that’s long enough to provide a good-sized target, and if you’re including links in a paragraph, space them out to reduce the risk of accidentally tapping one link instead of another.
The smartwatch – the next big mobile platform?
The smartwatch could complement and improve the mobile experience. It can help with quick tasks such as checking text messages, taking a picture, receiving notifications or answering a call without whipping out your phone.
So you might start thinking now about how to write for this even more demanding mobile platform. As an example, the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch is a good companion to its larger phone counterpart, allowing users to use their functions quickly.