Writing Articles Designed for Mobile Ready Responsive Websites

Website visits from mobile devices exceeded visits from conventional sources such as PCs and laptops for the first time in 2013. It has been rising rapidly and within five years the mobile device share may be more than 70%. Website owners have been slow to respond and the stages that occurred are:

► Denial, forcing users to zoom in and out struggling to read the site
► Fragmentary cut down versions of the website for specific screen sizes
► Responsive designs that scale down to be delivered on any screen size
► Completely redesigned responsive, mobile-ready and mobile-optimized, design

These changes have led to a complete re-think of website design that is revolutionizing SEO. Basically it is delivering what users want. If a user wants to order a pizza the landing page does just that. The elements of the changes are:

► Cut the fluff, eliminate verbiage.
► If in doubt, leave it out
► Shift all the background information to secondary pages accessed by links. It is there for the few users who want to read it, but ALL users don't have to wade through this detailed information.

Just as writing for the Web is different to writing offline, so writing for large screen notebooks is different from writing for mobiles. It is not solely about screen size, but is about delivering the right synopsis of the information for people on the go, who want quick facts delivered with elegant simplicity. This article outlines how to write copy for mobile ready websites.

SEO has to change with the tide. The latest change is to optimize content for mobile ready devices
SEO has to change with the tide. The latest change is to optimize content for mobile ready devices | Source
The World Wide Web has forced several major changes in writing style. Read about writing for mobile devices here.
The World Wide Web has forced several major changes in writing style. Read about writing for mobile devices here. | Source
Dylan Thomas wrote delightful succinct poetry in a messy room with a beautiful view over a cliff.
Dylan Thomas wrote delightful succinct poetry in a messy room with a beautiful view over a cliff. | Source

Tips for Writing for Mobile Ready Websites

► The average smartphone screen size is about 4 inches (10cm). While a responsive design will squeeze down to fit, the lettering size will generally be larger. People using smartphones on the go need to get the information quick and easily. Your content should be short and succinct, not only in terms of overall length, but also the length of sentences. Paragraph need to be very short, perhaps only one or two sentences.

Use bullet points and numbered points to break the content up and make it easier to read.

Buttons work better than underlined in-text links.

Immediacy is important. Users want the information directly and immediately, so make sure you provide what they want. It is quite a different experience from sitting down at a desk using a PC of notebook. You need to be more relevant and deliver what the user wants in a clever and wittier way.

Mobile Links and Search - Keep your keyword phrases short, less than three words. People don't want to type long five-word searches especially with thumb typing of single hand typing.

Avoid the temptation of having two versions of your site, one for mobiles and another for desktops and notebooks. You need one brand and one version. Visitors may share your mobile content on social media and the different versions will only confuse people.

► Google uses two bots to index websites, one for desktop and one for mobile (Googlebot-Mobile). When Google finds your site is mobile-friendly, it is added to the Google web index for mobiles. This is another reason to have a mobile-ready website.

Don’t bury the lead - This device often works in other forms of writing, but not on mobile ready websites. Your most important take home message should come first. The reader can read on for the details if they are still interested. If you bury the message in the fourth sentence many of your readers will never get that far. Put the secondary information on other pages.

Stay positive, encouraging and polite otherwise your users will switch off. Don’t communicate below your audience in an effort to keep it simple. Show that your know and respect your audience.

► Make sure your copy is readable on a range of small screens. Often this means using a larger text size. The font type and size must be easily read.

► Use short eye-catching titles that really relate to the message

Use compelling and revealing summaries and succinct Lists. Tables may not resize very well, or display clearly on small screens. Images may not display properly when reduced. Text may not flow well around images or become unclear or lose its context.

Keep it short, but don’t overdo the brevity, as readers will often continue through a long article if you keep them interested.

► Think outside the box and move beyond the limitations of the small screen. Mobile devices offer new and different opportunities to communicate your message, that are different to those for laptops. It is often about swiping, zooming, tapping and touching. It is a unique medium of telling a different story in a unique and interesting way. You need to understand the medium of mobile devices.

Design to Increase Mobile Page Load Speeds - Research suggests that Google expects mobile pages to load in less than one second, but the average mobile page load speed is over 7 seconds. That is fare too slow. Pages bloated with images and fancy stuff can slow the load especially on mobiles that lack the fast cable connections that applies for notebooks and PCs. The other aspect is that users want things delivered fast. After one second they lose interest and go elsewhere.

Focus on a Clean Design that is Easy to Use - Usability should drive the design, combined with ruthless elimination of clutter and anything that hints of being unnecessary.

Understanding Mobile-User Intent and Providing What Users Want - The Mobile SEO should be based on a profound understanding of the needs, wants, biases, intentions of the intended audience. Mobile users may want and need different things than desktop users. They certainly want everything faster. 'Local' is also an important driver.

Conversational and Voice Search Should be Considered - In 2014 and beyond SEO and Keywords will have to be designed for voice search as users will 'ask' search engines specific questions. The designs need to cater for these.

© 2014 Dr. John Anderson

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