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Shopper Experience

10 Ways to Optimize Your Content for Mobile Reading

At Yottaa we help our customers provide their website visitors with the best user experience possible.  In this guest post from Percussion Software‘s Karo Kilfeather, we’ll explore one of the most important aspects of user experience for any site: content readability on mobile.

Mobile devices are everywhere, and they can follow you anywhere, which has made them a go-to solution to intermittent boredom. Whether you’re reading or shopping online, doing so on mobile offers instant gratification. That mindset predisposes visitors to expect a fast response with websites and content loading quickly and if it doesn’t, they will leave.

Mobile Experience

While several factors go into optimizing for better mobile performance, optimizing your content for mobile viewers doesn’t get as much discussion. It takes more than design to make your website mobile ready. To ensure your content is as responsive and mobile-friendly as the rest of your optimized website, you have to understand user behavior and preferences as well as available solutions.

Responsive Design Won’t Make Your Content Responsive

In “Responsive Design Won’t Fix Your Content Problem” Karen McGrane explained what’s often misunderstood about creating responsive websites. Whatever you do to present your content, if it’s disorganized, outdated, poorly written, or hard to read, design won’t change that. Fixing loading times won?t make it more interesting or useful to your visitors.

What Is an Optimal Mobile Reading Experience?

Most of us assume mobile means lessened attention span, and that’s true to a degree. It turns out, long-form content is popular and voraciously consumed on mobile devices: feature-length article, movies and TV show episodes will be read and watched if available. Small screen is not a deterrent, as long as the presentation is effective and the content is engaging.

To create the best mobile content consumption experience for your visitors, embrace the following tips.

10 Strategies for Creating Mobile-Optimized Content

1. Leverage mobile applications to foster engagement beyond your website

You can create content on other platforms to make it a perfect fit for mobile. Instagram and Vine are both great for creating digestible, visual content that’s easy to consume and share.

2. Use a content management system to separate content from presentation

To make it easy for your content to travel across devices, it needs to include minimal markup so display styles can be managed by the web content management platform you use and style sheets for various devices.

3. Choose scrolling over pagination

On a mobile device, scrolling is more immersive and natural 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.

4. Make it more modular – think cards

Card-based design is increasingly popular on mobile and desktop websites because it helps present a lot of high level information quickly and by making the most of the available viewing space.

5. Use closely cropped images for smaller screens

Images that rely on details will lose impact when displayed on a tiny screen. Besides serving up a smaller file size for mobile browsers, you can also offer alternate versions of an image that is more closely cropped to feature your subject.

6. Serve up shorter headlines and get people reading faster

Just as with images, you can provide shorter versions of your headlines to use fewer lines of text and less real estate on small screens, getting to the point, and letting users get to the rest of your content faster.

7. Invest in high-quality content that tells a story

Mobile visitors are willing to spend time with your content, as long as it’s good. BuzzFeed is known for pithy GIF-laden posts, but also produces long-form content reminiscent of magazine features. More than 50% of their traffic is mobile and garners millions of views for feature-length stories.

8. Don’t punish visitors for using a mobile device by hiding content

You don’t have to make 100 percent of your website available on mobile. Embedded content can be troublesome unless you put in some work to help it display, but you should make sure visitors can get to everything they expect to see. Don?t hide important elements just because you?d prefer users to go to your desktop site.

9. Understand how page elements affect interaction before you decide where they go

Let’s say you’re looking at registering for an event, and the admission fee, date, and time are all in the sidebar, and have moved below the lengthy description for the benefit of your smart phone. You now have to keep scrolling through all the text only to find that the event date is a no-go. The context and usage of your content should decide where it goes.

10. Have a mobile content strategy

A mobile content strategy is a content strategy that doesn?t ignore mobile and seeks to take advantage of it. Consider creating mobile-specific content and posting to mobile-only social networks. Just as you consider screen size and connection speeds when optimizing for display and performance, factor in visitor location and associated context to prioritize which content is delivered and how.

Offering a great mobile experience on your website helps you stay relevant and competitive. Make sure you include content in your mobile optimization efforts.

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