How to Write Mobile
It has been a few years since the web went mobile in the truest sense of the word. It was back in 2014 that comScore came forward with research which showed the number of mobile web users surpassed desktop web users.
It has been a few years and the world has gone even more mobile, with desktop users becoming a rare breed more rapidly than ever before.
This has affected anyone who has any connection to the online world, writers included. It does not matter if you are running a small but popular blog or if you decided to become an app builder reseller, you need to know how to keep your mobile readers engaged.
So, how do you do it?
Learn Mobile’s Idiosyncrasies
In order to even begin to write great content for mobile, it is essential that you learn mobile’s traits and quirks that make it so different from the desktop ecosystem. The majority of these are influenced by the way people use their mobile devices.
For one, people often read stuff on their phones when they are on the move and when distractions abound. Their attention spans are shorter and they are more likely to get distracted by their environment.
Furthermore, the actual physiology of reading differs from desktop to mobile. According to research from Briggsby, mobile readers spend more than 80 percent of their eye-time on the top two thirds of the page, meaning that the lower third gets barely any attention. According to this same research, the eye of the mobile reader is naturally drawn towards images, instead of text.
The question that begs the answer now is how to take advantage of this knowledge.
Start from the Top
Like with all content, the title is the first thing your potential readers will see and in the case of mobile, it needs to be even more succinct and aggressive than usual (and we all know usual is already plenty aggressive).
The title of this particular article is the perfect example (intentionally so) of a mobile-friendly title. It’s a title that would fit the screen of your Nokia 3310, if need be. It is a title that explains what you are about to read in 4 words and 16 letters. It may not be the most accurate or the most grammatically flawless title in the world, but it is 16 letters long. 20 characters with spaces.
Super-short titles make them more visible, especially in the sea of possibilities. Depending on the platform, super short titles might actually end up being written in a larger font because it’s possible.
Keep your Paragraphs Short
Mobile scrolling is a movement that has already become as natural as licking your finger when reading newspaper. It may vary depending on the length of the person’s finger or the amount of caffeine they imbued before their mobile reading, but for the most part, mobile scrolling can be predicted.
Because of this, a paragraph has to fit on one screen, which may sound limiting. It is. However, it is something you need to work with. If a reader needs to do precise scrolling because there is another line or two to finish the paragraph, they will get annoyed. Maybe not consciously so, but they will get annoyed.
Keep your Copy Succinct
There is a reason why haiku became a worldwide phenomenon. This reason is the simplicity and the focused nature of a haiku. There is much beauty in simplicity and in being as direct and succinct as possible.
It is also difficult, do not be fooled. As John Cooper Clarke puts it:
“To convey one’s mood in 17 syllables is very diffic”
In the world of writing, you really learn this when you start writing for mobile. If you can say something in six words, you do not tell it in twelve. If a word does not contribute to a sentence, you throw it out. Think of it as barebones writing.
Putting Your Message in the Right Place
Depending on what you are writing for mobile, your message can be more or less essential. For instance, if you are simply writing a guest post, your message will be the thing you want your readers to remember once they finish your article. If you are writing copy or something for a paying client, you are probably already thinking in “calls of action”. They are your message and you need to know where to put them.
Like we mentioned, there are places where the readers’ eyes will naturally go, such as top of the screen and around pictures. This is where you need to put your message. This is a simple matter of numbers and statistics. It will not guarantee success 100%, but you will definitely increase your chances of getting the messages across.
In short, if you want to write great mobile content, you need to exercise the sensitive art of brevity. Also, think about mobile content that you like to read and imagine yourself reading the content you are writing. If you’re not sure about it, give it another do-over.