The first iPhone launched 10 years ago. Today we spend two out of three “digital media minutes” on mobile, and more than 50 percent of web searches are done on mobile devices. While desktop computers used to be the center of most people’s online experience, mobile has definitely taken that spot.
A study from Adobe found that marketers are finally starting to catch up to those trends and think about mobile first: 79 percent of marketing decision-makers rank mobile apps as very or extremely important, and 88 percent feel the same about mobile websites. Adobe found that “a significant slice of technology spend is allocated to creating, measuring, and optimizing mobile.”
But if you’re not a technologist or UX designer — if you just manage your company’s blog, let’s say — how much do you really need to know about mobile? I talked to three strategists who say marketers can make a big difference in the shift to meeting readers and users on small screens. Here’s what they had to say.
Make your mobile experience your best experience
Instead of thinking about desktop as the primary version of your website and tacking on a mobile version, look at how your users are getting information from you. Chances are high that mobile is the primary way people are accessing your website, and it’s definitely the primary way they’re accessing the content from your site that’s shared on social platforms.
Josh Nite, content marketing manager at TopRank Marketing, says writers can help create content that’s tuned for mobile. He suggests writing content that’s “easy to read in multiple short bursts.” “That means short paragraphs and headers that guide the reader through the piece,” he says. One thing to remember that might not be obvious: Make sure each section of text is self-contained.
“Don’t start a section with ‘which means you need to…,’ referring back to a previous paragraph,” he says.
In other words, make sure a reader can scroll and jump through your content without backtracking.
When it comes to overall mobile experience, Nite points to the Reddit mobile-first strategy as “the rare example of an app that actually improves on the desktop experience. I would rather browse Reddit on my phone than anywhere else.” No matter where people find you, he says, “it’s about continuity of experience. If you have a great mobile-responsive home page for your blog, but as soon as I click on a story I’m scrolling and zooming, that breaks the experience.”
Remember that mobile readers are literally moving
There’s been a big push in the past couple of years for more visual marketing content. But Emilie Futterman, an exprience strategist, says we need to think about mobile readers’ constraints when it comes to images.
“Connection on mobile isn’t constant,” she says. “It’s not like on desktop. So a lot of times images don’t load on mobile. Sometimes people don’t even want pictures to load because it takes up too much data.”
So she says it’s important to consider how your content appears on a screen when the images are invisible. Avoid using images to guide readers through the structure, or making important points without backing them up with text, she says. Make sure your absent images aren’t creating disjointed content. “I’m looking to pair every picture with simple text,” she says.
Finally, she recommends creating mobile content that loads as one continuous page — no slideshows or multi-paged articles that boost ad impressions but kill the load times and user experience.
Check out AMP
Creating mobile-friendly content is an always-evolving skill. “A mobile web project does not end when you publish it,” says Max Firtman, a mobile web developer and trainer. “You need to invest the effort to keep it updated with the latest trends and devices.”
One big development that all three experts suggested investigating: AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), special pages designed to optimize mobile performance. “If your content is based on text, images and videos, you should probably be looking at AMP,” Firtman says. He explains that if your content is in AMP format, it will be “prioritized, pre-cached and highlighted in Google search results.” AMP is an open-source project to make content more accessible on mobile, and you can find instructions and resources at the AMP website.
To stay on top of other mobile trends, Futterman says she constantly consumes content on mobile to watch what others are doing well, and she takes screenshots of mobile sites she likes. She also spends time reading app notes in the App Store. Keeping an eye on new features and changes on mobile platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Chrome and Pocket helps her understand how people will access, share or save content through other platforms.