Is Your Content Ready for Mobile Users? Tips for Making the Most of the Small Screen
If you manage a website, you’re probably familiar with the site’s general metrics (like popular content, number of visitors, and pageviews). But do you know how many of your users access your site from a mobile device? This data is critical information for your program management. By the end of 2016, mobile and tablet internet usage exceeded desktop access for the first time worldwide, and U.S. users were spending 5+ hours per day on mobile devices. Since then, mobile use continues to grow rapidly, and that means preparing your content for mobile users is essential.
“More people visit CDC.gov on their smartphones than any other device type (including desktops). We are quickly realizing that the mobile audience IS our audience!”Alex Casanova, Digital Systems Team Lead, Digital Media Branch, Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
But to do that well means you have to know what mobile users want. Data indicate that they are drawn to:
- Lots of visuals
- Shorter everything—including headlines, paragraphs, and content
- Bullet points (See what we did there?)
Small screens—Big impacts
If your organization serves communities of color and low-income populations, you have additional reasons for improving your mobile outreach. Experts estimate that 85% of African Americans and Hispanics use text messaging, making mobile phone text messaging an ideal campaign channel.
A recent study(PDF, 286 KB) also found that “minorities who have access to a mobile device are more likely to rely on the Internet for health information in a time of strong need. And federally insured individuals who are connected to mobile devices have the highest probability of reliance on the Internet as a go-to source of health information.” This means that mobile technology can help to reduce health disparities for both minority and low-income populations—and it can also improve care for individuals who have difficulty accessing care due to transportation issues or lack of local providers.
Developing mobile content
To take advantage of the opportunities mobile offers, you have to understand your audience’s mobile habits:
- What percentage of your audience accesses your site on mobile devices?
- Are they using tablets or smartphones? Make note of operating systems and screen sizes for adapting content.
- What activities are they doing on your site—independently and as compared with users coming from desktops?
- What content are they accessing?
- What are their reading levels?
- How much time do your visitors spend on your site? Attention span matters!
- Do they consume visual content, including videos?
Knowing this information will help you provide the content your audience wants.
But the formats you use matter too. To catch your visitors’ attention and entice them to engage with your site, consider:
- Using headlines with punch that answer the question “What’s in it for me?” by showcasing the benefit to your reader;
- Varying the length of your content (e.g., posting a blog that highlights short summaries and offers the chance to click over to longer articles—for more on this, check out our blog post on tools for health literacy);
- Using formatting as a way of effectively grabbing attention. Try using large, easy-to-read fonts and eye-catching colors; and
- Linking more in-depth content, rather than including it on your mobile pages.
Whether it’s young people accessing the internet with their cell phones, or older folks doing so with their tablets, mobile is both the present and the future of digital connection. If you’d like help with developing your mobile content strategies, sign up for Virtual Office Hours!