aNewDomain — With Google rolling out its major algorithm change last week, a move that gave mobile-friendly websites a boost, the need for your website to be responsive is more important than ever. By “responsive” I mean the site uses the same HTML code on the same URL — regardless of the device that’s displaying it. But it is still able to render the display differently based on the screen size.
Here’s how to make your website more responsive right now.
Cut the fluff
With no horizontal scroll bar, content will stack or collapse as users scroll up and down to browse for information. With this smaller screen comes the need to write succinctly. Remember: Less is more. If you’re in the process of creating a responsive website, use this opportunity to review your existing site’s content with the goal of cleaning it up and paring it down.
Here are a few content-trimming tips:
- Focus on your call to action. The use of smartphones means people are accessing your site on the go and are likely to be in a hurry. Give them the information they need, tell them what to do and make it easy for them to do it. On average, only about 10 to 15 percent of readers actually finish articles online.
- Get to your point quickly. Keep descriptions and paragraphs short yet engaging. Aim for text blocks that are 100 or fewer words. If you have a large amount of material to cover, consider breaking it up into multiple articles or blog posts.
- Use bullet points to keep your thoughts concise. Like I’m doing now.
- Use the inverted pyramid style when writing content. That means you put the most important topics at the top.
- Subheads make text more scannable for readers. They also break up your copy. Use them.
- Use your headline to grab your reader’s attention. Your headline will set the tone for what the page or article is about and should contain SEO (search engine optimization) keywords. The first sentence or two is your lede or your hook. The lede expands on the headline and encourages the reader to continue with the article.
The body of the article is where the meat or details live. Realizing that many mobile readers are scanners, use bulleted lists, quick-loading images and short sentences in the body of your article. The conclusion is the wrap up where you connect the dots of what they just read. Engage readers by asking a question to get them to think about what they just read.
The conclusion is also a good place to stress a call to action.
Writers have their work cut out for them when it comes to producing content for their website. It’s all about the user experience regardless of what device they are using to access your website. It’s a balancing act for sure. Writers must keep the needs of mobile devices in mind but they must also find harmony with those still entering their website from a desktop. An important point to remember is that while an increasing amount of browsing and research are being done on smartphones and tablets, consumers still do more buying on their desktops.
A responsive approach
When writing content, narrow your browser window to the same size as a mobile device so you can see how much of the copy will fill the screen. This approach will help you keep your content tight and to the point. You can also see what your website content looks like on different-sized screens with free tools such as responsivepx.com or responsinator.com.
Work closely with your web developer and designer to make sure the content you write works well as the site transitions from a large desktop to a small device. As the screen gets smaller, the columns become narrower and the text becomes larger and more readable. As sites get smaller, it may also be necessary to hide some content that is viewed from a smartphone. If content would take too long to view by scrolling, have it transition to a button or a drop-down option. Have a voice at the table in the technical buildout of your responsive site. As the writer, you have a message you are trying to convey. The developer is worried about browser compatibility and page-load time.
A few other points to remember when approaching your website responsively:
- Let pictures take the place of words when it makes sense to do so.
- Keep images small to improve load time.
- Streamline your site’s table of contents so users can easily find what they want.
- Improve navigation so users don’t have to hit the back button.