Small screens mean smaller sentences

Posted on 29. Jul, 2011 by in Thoughts

The online world has been talking about the importance of brevity for a long time, but never has it been so necessary. As screens shrink and we flock to smart phones and tablets in droves, the copy on our sites needs to be ever shorter and sweeter.

Source: Digital Trends

When making a mobile version of your site, you’ll look to scale everything back – and your copy could quickly go on the chopping block.

Mobile versions of website are now a necessity as well, as browsing on the move has exploded in the last few years. Not only do we all want all of the content, amusement and information the internet opened our eyes to, we want it wherever we are – we are a demanding bunch.

We want it now

Just being able to access our favourite sites, the restaurants we want to book or the products we want to buy online isn’t enough – we want the sites to be speedy and super easy to understand too. Anyone who has a smartphone is used to the dreaded scroll – or strange pincer movement if you’re part of the iPhone family. This irritating problem rears its head every time you come across a site that’s on your phone but wasn’t designed for it.

Get an idea of what your site will look like on a mobile screen with the help of the Opera Mini Simulator – a great way to see where you might be going wrong.

Writing for mobile

  • A good rule of thumb when creating copy for the mobile web is: if the reader has to use their thumb to scroll down to understand what you’re saying, you’re using too many words.
  • Use simple words, shorten your sentences and work out exactly what people want to hear.
  • Cut out jargon and don’t bother singing your own praises, space is too precious and chances are you’re going to infuriate just when you most need to meet expectations.
  • You may think there’s plenty of space on your site for your favourite catchphrase or tagline, but are they really necessary on the mobile version of your site? You’re likely to find it isn’t.


bigmouthmedia blog as seen on an iphone screenReading content online VS browsing the net

There may have been a recent explosion in the number of people willing to read books, news and short stories online, but don’t mistake this for a willingness to change the way they interact with your commercial website.

The intent your user has when they visit your site is the most important thing for you to focus on, and if they want to make a booking quickly, fighting their way through reams of text is sure to send them straight back to the search listings, looking for someone who will give them what they want when they want it.

This is of course different if you host news or blogs on your site. In those cases, you can safely assume your user is specifically looking for content to read, so give it to them by all means.

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