1. Forget everything you thought you knew about reading content online
It’s time to toss the old paradigms. Reading content from a mobile device is totally different from reading content on a desktop. Here are some of the things you’ll need to force out of your mind.
2. People view images more than they view text
Eye-tracking studies indicate that mobile users look at images more than they look at text. Here’s a study to prove it. (Note: KG stands for Knowledge Graph – the entity results, panels, and carousel summary provided by Google.)
3. Get rid of unnecessary words, phrases, sentences, or points
The famous French polymath, Blaise Pascal, wrote, “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”
His point? Concise writing takes time and hard work. For mobile content, concise writing is essential. In this case, the necessity has more to do with the screen size than the user’s attention span. Your goal is to present the user with as much on-screen information as possible without requiring the user to swipe or tap. The more cogently you can express an idea, the better.
4. Create short, strong headlines
Your headline doesn’t need to take up several screens of space. Short and sweet are better. Why? Lengthy headlines get lost below the fold. Much of the responsibility for this, of course, rests with the designer. Short headlines are easily viewed in a quick scan. Mobile designers should realize that they don’t need to create monstrous titles on mobile devices. At the same time, you can help them (and readers) by condensing your titles to the essentials.
5. Front load your most powerful content
With desktop viewing, you have plenty of above-the-fold real estate. In some website designs, you can have four or five paragraphs visible – no scrolling required. Things are a bit tighter with mobile. For this reason, start your articles with a few attention-grabbing lines.
In this article, I started with a few sentences crafted to attract the reader’s attention. These sentences previewed the content and pointed to a takeaway. Most importantly, the first sentence raised expectations and grabbed attention.
6. Use short paragraphs
Readers tend to get lost in long paragraphs. Cognitively, a viewer considers a paragraph to be a complete thought. If that thought is too long, then the reader will get impatient and move on.
Paragraphs also cause the eyes to move in a predictable and consistent rhythm through the article. A series of short, staccato paragraphs works somewhat like a cadence in a song – the reader keeps moving from paragraph to paragraph consistently and completely.