I went from newspapers and magazines, which allow your eye to wander up and down, and sideways, and choose among several stories, to TV. TV has that vertical pattern with one story after another, and another. You are carried through a whole newscast and the broadcast editorial team needs to find a flow that is appealing enough so you won’t click away (this is why broadcast guys are the best at teasing stories).
The digital layout is somehow similar to a newspaper. But then came mobile, with a new reading pattern that has more to do with a TV rundown than a newspaper (or desktop layout).
In a smartphone, the content is narrowed down to one column that you can scroll up and down. This alone could transform the way we think about online content.
Will the home page disappear? Even landing pages?
Although web content gets more traffic from sharing individual links, you probably still need a home page. It is like your business card, it represents your whole website and for some industries, like News, it is still important.
The home page is also a start and return point: when readers feel lost in a website’s complex structure they may click Home and take it again from there .
If the home page is still driving a decent amount of traffic you will need to take a closer look to the mobile layout.Although you may have a mosaic layout or rotation modules, the truth is that, on mobile, you have a much tinier space to present your main stories. You are facing the TV editorial challenge:
“What will I open with today?” followed by: “…and how do I position my two or three first stories so my readers will click at least on one of them?”
In your mobile home page, not only your content items are competing against each other, but against your site’s header, registration module, social media icons, advertisement banners, etc.
Think mobile every second
We still work from a desktop or laptop. This means that we work with the comfortable wide desktop layout and its set of 3 columns (2 if you are blogging). But you need to remember that many (most?) readers won’t see it the way you see it.
Here is a quick checklist:
1. Do you know which modules come first in mobile?.
2. Do you know the number of characters that you can use for your copy in a mobile screen? This is pretty important so you can make the most out of your space, especially if you write in languages “longer” than English. Also if you want to avoid double lines in a title or orphans.
3. Check how it shows in mobile version.
You’ve got to know your audience very well and give them something interesting in the most appealing way. Think of somebody you think represents your audience, the persona in your audience. Try to visualize what would this person do when visiting your site with his/her smartphone. Your first two or three pieces of content will probably be the only that will show on a mobile screen so you need to nail it.
– Am I global, national, regional, local media? Why is this interesting, how is it relevant for my audience? Would I click on it if I was standing up on a busy commuter train?
– Is my piece of content linking to the next most interesting thing in the world, to keep my readers engaged for extra click through? Will those embedded links be easy to click on with a touchscreen?