With nearly half of all activity occurring on mobile devices it is no longer enough to simply offer an optimized website anymore. Even though smartphone screen sizes seem to be getting increasingly larger each year, especially with the growth of the phablet segment, they are still small compared to the desktop experience. This means that you need to be focused on creation of content that is easy and quick to consume and incorporate this into the sites design flow so that your site is totally optimized for the same small-screen experience.
Check out these nine tips for help in creating a smooth and engaging experience for your users:
Most consumers see it as a hassle to pinch their screen in order to ‘zoom in’ to check out content, and a two-column layout will not be able to offer a font size large enough for most consumers to read without zooming.
1. Immediate engagement
Consumers typically use mobile devices on the go, or for a quick ‘dip in, dip out’ so you need to get straight to the point. Creating engaging content that captivates the consumer immediately is your goal. So break up your content into bite-size sections with relevant, short, catchy subtitles which makes your content easier to scan and to attract attention.
2. Hook them with a headline
Writing a headline that really grabs a reader’s attention, compelling them to devour your content is down to good copy writing. So when you are writing for mobile users, it is important that your headline is relevant to your audience, has a powerful hook and evokes an emotional response from the reader. Headlines are typically made up of five words, they should be information rich and contain relevant keywords. A humorous statement or a clever play on words can really grab a user’s attention.
3. Introduce me
The introduction or the first paragraph of your content is key to driving further user interest in your article. It goes without saying that you should keep it short and concise. It is quite possible that this is all that a user will read on their mobile device, so try to include three quick hits of information in order to secure their interest.
4. One column is better than two
Most consumers see it as a hassle to pinch their screen in order to ‘zoom in’ to check out content, and a two-column layout will not be able to offer a font size large enough for most consumers to read without zooming. Stick to a single column layout and use a font size and style that is readable on mobile devices, a 14-pixel font works well for those catchy headlines.
5. Use images
Using visual imagery is also a great way to grab user attention. Consumers are more likely to click on a piece of content in order to check out its images. Of course the images should be relevant to the written content. Take special care with the size of the image you use because large, heavy images on the server can slow down your page load even if they have been resized within the content. Slow page loads are very frustrating to consumers and they may not have the patience to wait and will immediately move on, so optimise your images and video files for faster loading on mobile.
6. Rock ‘n’ scroll!
On a mobile device, scrolling is a much more natural action than pagination. If pagination suits your content better, make sure mobile readers can swipe through pages instead of having to click on a tiny link to reach the next page or slide.
7. Finger friendly call to actions
Rather than optimizing calls to action for clicks, you need to think of optimizing for finger taps. Redesign your buttons to be larger and place them somewhere that makes sense on a smaller screen and not over the top of your content. Place your buttons away from other links so that they stand out loud and proud, just begging the consumer to click on them. This is a design element that is definitely worth testing with button sizes, colours and different placements to see which combination yields the best results.
8. Don’t neglect navigation
Just because someone navigated to a specific content item on your mobile site doesn’t mean they want to stay there forever. If navigating back to the main site is too difficult they may abandon your site altogether. While designing navigation for mobile can be challenging, consider using a collapsible, drop-down or side menu to make your site easy to explore.
9. Understand your audience’s mobile habits
It’s amazing how many conversations about mobile strategies and content marketing in general happen in the absence of audience data. See if you can answer the following questions about your users:
What percentage of your audience accesses your site on mobile devices?
Are they using tablets or smartphones?
What activities are they doing on your site, independently and compared with your overall traffic?
What content are they accessing and which stories are the most popular?
Do they consume visual content?
How much time do they spend on your site? An audience with an average time of 10 minutes is different than an audience with an average time of 90 seconds. It’s all about attention span.
Use the above tips as a check list to give your users a great experience which in turn will engage them and drive them to want to explore the content on your site and help you achieve the ultimate goal — to keep them coming back for more.
Giles Hirst is marketing and communications manager at ad network ExoClick.com