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Optimising your content for mobile: The key ingredients for success

Since the iPhone was first released eight years ago, the rise of smartphones has led to a surge in mobile traffic. More than 3 billion people worldwide now access the Internet via a mobile device and last year marked the first instance where mobile shopping overtook desktop for the first time.

Four in ten (41 per cent) UK adults say they use the Internet to get news, according to a study by Ofcom. This figure rises to six in ten (60 per cent) of UK adults in the 16-24 age group, who use both the Internet and apps to access their news.

With so much content available on the web, (27,000 GigaBytes of internet traffic are generated every second of every day), good content can easily get lost in the noise. For content to stand out and attract mobile visitors, here are some guidelines to adhere to:

1. Is your site optimised for mobile?

Having quality content on your site is useless if it’s not optimised for mobile. Slow loading times, cluttered pages and copy overload results from pages that may look good on desktop but are not optimised for mobile. These are just a few of the factors that can alienate mobile users and ensure they do not return to your site again.

Optimising your site for mobile can sometimes be an afterthought, but making sure your site is suitable for all browsers and all devices is crucial to ensuring a consistent user experience. Therefore, it is important to factor mobile into your website development budget up front, to ensure your site is optimised for every device as soon as possible.

To define your approach for mobile visitors, it is worthwhile using the data at your disposal to decide the best way forward. This method involves finding out the percentage of visitors that currently accesses your site from mobile devices, how much time they are spending on site, and the type of content they are viewing.

Knowing the answers to these questions will also inform your approach to content. If you know that your mobile visitors are reading articles on a certain topic or are spending longer on site to view a specific video, tailor your content to cater for what the audience wants to see.

2. Small screen, big content

Whether it is using a mobile in a coffee shop or on the commute, people find more time to access information via their smartphone. This is why long-form content is extremely popular on mobile devices.

Feature-length articles packed with videos, mini infographics, you name it – these are all popular on mobile – as long as the presentation is of a high quality and the content is engaging. The Guardian’s Long Read section is just one example of a publication experimenting with long-form content in order to appeal to its mobile visitors.

Be sure to keep your content on one page, as scrolling provides a superior user experience to having your content on multiple pages. There is nothing worse than having to click on multiple pages to read a full article – particularly if your wireless connection is not the fastest. You should also ensure you do not hide any content for mobile users – all content should be easily accessible on the page and not be difficult to find.

3. Focus on the visuals

It is essential for you to include visual content in your articles for mobile users. Videos, graphics, gifs are all helpful. As long as they do not detract from the purpose of the article, then they are worth including.

Make sure any images that you include are mobile-optimised. Images that you have to zoom in to clearly see, which feature a lot of copy will not serve their purpose. Smaller file sizes for mobile are preferable, and you can offer alternate versions of an image that is more closely cropped to feature your subject.

4. Quality content wins through in the end

As with writing content for desktop, the same rules apply for mobile. High quality, credible articles remain the best approach in order to capitalise on the rise of mobile users.

People don’t have time for low quality content and they’ll certainly avoid repeat visits anywhere they find it. At Scredible, we are obsessed with good content, which is why we’re designing our app to be similarly ‘choosy’. The challenge comes in ‘teaching’ an AI system to learn the difference between good and bad content, in the same way a person would - selecting what’s new and interesting out of the myriad of sites regurgitating identikit articles.

This helps weed out the weak, the underwritten or the ‘over-optimised’ articles that often clutter our social feeds.

That’s why it is so important to put the effort and use your expertise to create quality content. Focus on shorter, hard hitting headlines and short, sharp paragraphs that get to the point of your article faster. This way you can keep your audience engaged and brought into the article by the time they get to the videos and other visual content.

Tim Mudd is Creative Director at Scredible plc.