What’s the difference between writing for mobile phones (iphone) and other types of writing?
Instead of giving a short answer, let’s look at how to write mobile content from a few different angles. Over the next 5 weeks, I’ll write more articles about mobile content development. If you like it, let me know and I will write more. Here goes!
Writing for mobile phone users
You would think that writing for mobile phones would be easy. After all, there’s less writing involved. But that’s actually the problem.
It’s very rare that companies have the resources to write dedicated content for their mobile readers. Instead, they edit existing content, say from the website and retro-fit it to the mobile phones. You can see the problems this is going to cause….
So, when we say we’re writing for mobile phone users, we’re often:
…existing content for mobile users.
That’s fine as long as you have some guidelines. And here they are!
Here are seven ways you can write better content for mobile phone users. This also applies to tablets, PDAs and, to a lesser extent, notebooks.
- Focus on the essential – Writing for mobile devices is like writing for the web, only more focussed. Zero in on the critical snippets of information and relegate less important copy to later/down the page. Or delete it as long as it doesn’t affect the meaning.
- Remove fillers – Edit text so unnecessary fillers are pruned. If you take content written for a website – or a newspaper – and offer it on a mobile device, your readers won’t thank you. Instead, refine the text until only the essential parts are left.
- Drive actions – Structure the content to encourage and help readers move to the next section. Add helpful links, snippets, and other devices that keep the reader engaged.
- Format – Use bold and italics sparingly. When you do, ensure that it highlights the key point and emphases a key point. Don’t use it for decorative purposes.
- Font – Consider how fonts render (appear) on different devices. What works on what may be less impressive on other mobile devices.
- Captions – Include brief (2-3 word) captions under all images. This helps anchor the reader and gives them a reference point when scrolling or if they land DEEP inside a mobile website.
- Search optimized – Develop content with keywords and phrases in mind. While writing for humans, remember that search engines make the connection!
Web Writing Resources
Looking for inspiration? Some of these books may help 🙂
- Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
- The Yahoo! Style Guide
- Writing for the Web
- Content Strategy for the Web
- Writing for the Web: A Practical Guide
Writing for mobile phones, iphones, and tablets is much like writing for the web. Just more distilled. More time sensitive. And more disposable…
The last point is important. Write mobile content that is short, accurate and concise, but also engaging.
How do you do that? What’s the best tip you have for writing mobile content?