If you’re a 90’s kid, you likely have fond memories of Saved by the Bell and its star, precocious Ferris Bueller type Zack Morris.
You could tell Zack was unique among the students at Bayside High. For one thing, he could stop time and address the camera directly. But more importantly, he had a cellular phone. Sure, it was the size (and probably weight) of a brick. But it wasn’t connected to a landline! That big rubberized antenna didn’t connect with a corded receiver nearby—it pulled connectivity out of thin air. Magical.
Fast forward to today, and kids who were born after Saved by the Bell went off the air are now entering the workforce. If they met Zack Morris, they would probably make fun of his hair, his clothes, and his giant phone.
Mobile phones aren’t reserved for cool kids with time-stopping powers anymore. Whether we’re old, young, or middle-aged and trapped in a nostalgia loop, smartphones are our constant companions.
It’s high time for marketers to catch up with this reality. Over a year ago—an eternity in Internet time—Google announced that more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers. That fact has led Google to include mobile friendliness as part of its ranking algorithm. They know more people are on mobile than ever before. And they are invested in providing a better experience for mobile users.
Being on Google’s good side isn’t the only advantage to being mobile friendly, though. The only reason Google prioritizes mobile friendliness is that it’s what users want. That is, it’s what your audience wants.
So, how is your mobile experience? Sure, you already have responsive design, but is your content actually optimized for people to consume it on a mobile device? Or is reading your site more like trying to catch Pokémon on Zack Morris’ phone?
Here’s how to make different types of content more mobile-friendly.
Optimize Video Content
Video is the rising star of mobile content. Thirty-five percent of viewers watched more video last year than they did the previous year. And 36% said they watched videos that last five minutes or longer every day.
If you want your audience to spend their precious data allotment on your video, it’s important to make sure the experience is a pleasant one:
- Use a service that automatically optimizes the tech stuff. Don’t fiddle with bitrates and compression on your own. Go third-party with YouTube or Vimeo for a seamless user experience. If you want to host your own video, use Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming. It can adjust the video quality on the fly to match bandwidth capability, just like Netflix does.
- Make sure text is readable. Mobile screens are small. Even the big ones are small. Don’t make your viewer squint to see the fine print.
- Make it make sense without audio. Eighty-five percent of video on Facebook is played without sound. And even if your viewer has their headphones in, odds are they’re in an environment that makes listening difficult. Try watching the video on mute to make sure it still gets your points across.
Load times are a major factor in someone engaging with your content or bouncing back to the search results. So it’s important that your content gets in front of them fast. At the same time, though, visual interest is another major factor in staying versus bouncing. So you have to have both a responsive site and one with visual appeal. To do that, make sure your images will load fast and look great:
- Create images in a pre-optimized format. Use a tool like Canva to create images the right size and resolution for social media and email.
- Use smart compression. You can compress .jpg files a bit without compromising their appearance. But too much compression leads to ugliness. Tinyjpg is a neat tool that compresses by reducing the color depth in ways invisible to the human eye. It’s downright spooky.
- Use a tool for responsive resizing. If you have web development wizards on your side, they can help with responsive resizing from the server side. If you have to go it alone, a service like ly Display can do the heavy lifting.
Optimize Text Content
Yes, Virginia, people do still read text on mobile. It’s not all videos and images and virtual-reality roller coasters. But they’re reading for shorter periods of time and with much greater potential for distraction. So a wall of text will be even less effective than it is on a laptop screen. Here’s how to guide a reader through your text content without losing them:
- Serve content in snack-friendly chunks. Think short sentences and short paragraphs, broken up by visual assets, video, embedded content from Vine, Instagram, or Snapchat, or at least white space.
- Use headers for navigation. Make sure readers can skim the post and get a good idea of what you’re talking about. Think of the headers as the “trailer” to entice people to take in the whole post.
- Include the main points in your conclusion. If your article starts to look like a time commitment, mobile readers might just swipe to the bottom and see how it wraps up. Make sure the relevant points and call to action are waiting for them.
Mobile Friendly is People Friendly
Regardless of where they encounter your content, you want your audience to have a positive experience reading or watching it. So make sure your brand is putting its best face forward for the 50% who will encounter you first on mobile. Give them responsive video content that makes sense even if their headphones are off. Make sure your images look great, display properly, and load quickly. And make sure your text is snackable, navigable, and skimmable.
What are your top tips for creating mobile-friendly content? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.