19 Jan Copywriting musts for mobile website optimisation

Mobile usage steamed ahead of desktop in 2015. This year it’s only going to get bigger, with Forbes and many others predicting that mobile will completely dominate desktop.

It’s clear what side of the fence Google’s on; they’re banking on desktop traffic fading away, meaning the smart money rests on mobile-focused online marketing.” Jayson DeMers, Forbes

So now is definitely the time to review your sites mobile performance. Specifically, refining your copy for a clearer, more convincing journey that converts.

Perfect your microcopy

From the hamburger menu to the share icon, there’s an established visual language for mobile websites. This reduces the need for instructional copy, but means the few elements of microcopy you have must really add something.

Are the terms you’re using consistent with other sites your customers frequently visit? Are you making the most of established conventions like: view all, add to basket, buy now etc? Or are you needlessly using new terminology that doesn’t enhance the experience?

For mobile optimisation, keep your microcopy as short as possible, and I mean short. Cookie message running over two lines on mobile? Cut it. Buttons longer than three words? Shorten them. If you really consider the UX and microcopy, you can create a clear user journey with very few words.

Part of this is being consistent. If you use the term next in your buttons, use this throughout rather than mixing with proceed or the like. Similarly, if you prefer bag to basket use throughout. Consistent use of terms will help your user proceed quickly through the journey and keep your calls to actions short.

Don’t waste your customers’ time

Our increased mobile usage is in no small part down to multi tasking – using your phone while on a train, watching TV, out with your friends etc. This means site visits are often shorter and your customer’s tolerance of any delays shorter still.

Make every step in the journey count. Shorten form fields so you only capture absolutely essential information. Quickly give your customer a view all option so they can easily scroll through your mobile website without having to keep selecting the next page. Use cleverly placed microcopy to quickly get them to previous items of interest or content related to earlier visits.

Remove any redundant error messages and avoid displaying errors until the user has pressed submit. Prompts that appear the moment you enter text quickly get annoying – give the user the chance to complete the task correctly before telling them it’s wrong. Make sure any error messages are displayed in context. If you make the user work to discover what element of a form is wrong, they’ll likely just abandon the basket.

Remember, it takes more effort to enter details on mobile, so don’t frustrate and lengthen this process. Use your copy to get users to the point of interest as fast as possible.

Include copy in your user testing

Too often the visual design is the focus of user testing, without considering the impact of the copy too. Your user won’t make this distinction. Even the most beautiful, well laid out mobile website will be a poor user experience without clear copy.

Test button copy variants to see what your users react to. Sometimes a very small change like Checkout to Checkout now can significantly impact conversions.

Reduce the instructional and error copy to the absolute minimum, then test if there’s any confusion. Often the assumption is that the user needs more instructional guidance than they do. People are now very used to using mobile websites, so if your UI is consistent, they’re unlikely to need guiding through every step.

In any follow-up questionnaires or interviews, make sure you address copy. See if there were any pain points or elements they found particularly helpful. Further test any hypotheses from your user testing with A/B split tests at beta stage.

The key takeaway is to think of copywriting as content design. It needs to be an integral part of your mobile website optimisation, considered at every stage, from concept to user testing.

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