At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Customer Interface

Simple wins on the small screen

Amy Stephens September 2011

Mobile content can sometimes be the best kind of web content. If delivered well, it’s short and contains only the essential information. Content designed and written into bite sized chunks lets users get to information quickly and cherry pick what they want. It’s fair to say being lean and delivering only the bare essentials elegantly is a hard discipline, but one that is becoming increasingly relevant.

It is common for the content style to be the last thing companies think about when it comes to their website. Aesthetic requirements and an organisation’s need to get everything across to users usually get in the way. But content (arguably content ‘over’ style) on the web matters. On websites via mobile it matters even more.

If you’re checking out a site on your phone, your attention is usually divided. You’re busy and short on time. You want content that addresses your needs and is actionable now. There’s nothing more frustrating for a user than a mobile web experience that’s slower than the royal wedding. So, how do you create a great mobile web experience? Here are a few ideas: 

  1. Use the inverted pyramid: Bring home the bacon at the start and put your most useful content at the top of the page. Then users can have the option to find out more details later (1).
  2. Cull, cull, cull – be brutal: Don’t make your key content harder to find than Osama. Be concise and try to keep sentences short. Make each word work hard. Test your content on a mobile screen.
  3. Write headings and subheadings that are descriptive: Make it clear what content sits below the heading.  A user will usually scan for keywords to figure out if they are in the right place or not.
  4. Simplify page layouts: Single column layouts usually work best. Eliminate or reduce image sizes and don’t use unnecessary animation or gimmicks.
  5. Consider making a mobile only version of your website: Some of the more complicated elements and details can go on your standard site. The basic most accessed information can be put on the mobile site. 

Check out these great resources for a little more detail on putting together mobile content 'Writing for the mobile web' and 'Best practices for mobile web writing'.

We think these rules are mission critical for mobile, and in fact they are gold for your main site too. The discipline of making sure less becomes more is sadly lacking in too many user experiences. 

Comments

Phil 11 August 2011 at 12:17pm

Many of the principles here should apply to most forms of mass communication. In as much as developing content for a mobile version of your website is a useful yardstick for developing content on your main site; the same applies in getting messaging succinct and powerful enough to use in above the line channels.
All in all, brevity and simplicity is good whenever you're facing time-poor audiences.

What do you think?