“When you’re writing for the web there’s no space for words that don’t serve a purpose”, says Holly Groom, content editor at JustGiving. This is doubly true for mobile. Your content should provide a quick and effortless pathway to exactly where the user wants to go.
So how do you cut copy down for a mobile screen without losing your brand message or tone of voice?
Here are five tips to help you write brilliantly for mobile.
1. Tone is still important
Your tone of voice is vital to providing a good user experience. At JustGiving we’re always thinking about where a person is in their user journey, what they might be feeling, and what we can say or do to help. In the mobile app this means knowing where you can use a more playful, encouraging tone (like when asking fundraisers to share their Page via Whatsapp) and when to move out of the way and direct the user clearly to where they want to go (i.e. to report a bug).
2. Think about your tagline
App names are short, so use your tagline to convey a bit more about what your app actually does. Focus more on the benefit to the user than on your own brand messaging. Remember that in the app store the only thing people want to know is what your app does and how it makes their life easier – brand messages can wait until later.
3. Avoid tech jargon
Not everyone who downloads your app is going to be 100% tech savvy. Using an app can be a bit of a daunting experience for some of your supporters, so your in-app messaging should be written with them in mind. Tech terminology keeps things short and sweet, but you won’t help a user move through their journey if they’re confused by what you’re saying. In-app notifications and reporting bugs are completely new ideas for some people, so find ways to explain these concepts in a natural, human, less techy way.
4. Be consistent
This one seems simple, but when your content is split over several different app screens, copy consistency can be the first thing to slip. Just as little grammatical errors and inconsistencies will make a reader trip up when reading an email, they’ll also make things trickier to understand when moving through your app. Screen grab and print all the pages of your app so you can check that absolutely everything – from page titles to alert box responses – is consistent, tidy and uniform.
5. Have fun
With such limited space there’s a constant pressure to get straight to the point. Unfortunately the sensible approach rarely makes for a memorable app experience. Keep your text short but make it as enjoyable to read as you can. Sounds like an impossible task? It isn’t – just write out what you want to say with no regard for the length then edit, edit, edit until you have a tiny scrap of copy that has (hopefully) retained some of the character you started with. A good app has a bit of personality, so spend time making sure that your quest for mobile clarity hasn’t erased everything that makes your organisation unique!