The Nontechnical User Guide to Taking Content Mobile: Optimize

The future of digital content is a mobile-friendly one. The Pew Research Center recently found that 58% of all American adults own a smartphone, 42% of American adults own a tablet computer, and 32% own an e-Reader. And as more and more people read personal content on their phones and tablets, it’s clear that your corporate content needs to go mobile, too.

But anyone who’s had a less than ideal mobile experience—repeatedly pinching and zooming small text or abandoning a poorly designed mobile site altogether—knows that a great mobile experience takes some thought and care. So in this post, and a few that follow, I’ll walk you through the steps it takes to take your content mobile.

Why You Need to Optimize for Certain Mobile Devices

Let’s talk devices—the world is full of mobile devices. A mobile device could be thought of as any of the following: smartphones, some cellphones, e-Readers, tablets, and even game consoles like the Wii and Nintendo 3DS. As if that weren’t enough, within smartphones alone there’s even more variation. For instance, a few of the top contenders are Android phones such as the Galaxy Note, iPhones, Blackberrys, Microsoft’s Windows phone and Amazon’s Fire phone. Considering all of these options can be absolutely dizzying, and a common pitfall I see companies struggle with is looking for a perfect reading experience in all of them.

There’s an easy solution: strategically pick and choose several devices important to your business, and make your content work for them. In other words, optimize.

Optimizing for certain devices and their operating systems will reduce the amount of time, stress and resources you’ll have to dedicate to getting a quality mobile reading experience to a majority of your consumers. Below, I’ve compiled a few questions that you should ask yourself when deciding to optimize for certain mobile devices:

3 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Mobile Device(s):

  1. What does your average user look like? In your company, which employees will rely on mobile devices most? Depending upon their average age and gender, you can use statistics to predict whether they are more likely to own (and use) a smartphone or a tablet. See recent demographic statistics for smartphones here and tablets here.
  2. What operating systems should you optimize for?To clarify which devices to use, ask your web or IT department which devices/operating systems have viewed your website most over the last 60 to 90 days. Typically, this will provide you with a strong indicator of where your content is viewed. Often, your top two operating systems will be:
    1. Android (incorporates all devices using the Android spec, you can see PCWorld.com’s top ten Android phones of 2013 here)
    2. IOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
  3. Is an eReader right for your content?
    Though there are many e-Readers out there, the differences between e-Reading devices add a lot of complexity to your optimization strategy, so choose wisely. If your content fits the following criteria, then e-Readers and EPUB may be a great option:
    1. Longform
    2. Fairly straightforward (lots of text and less design)
    3. Your consumers have limited internet access
    4. Needs to be read by many people, possibly some outside of your organization.

The bottom line:

By answering the above questions, you should have a pretty good idea of the three devices (or rather their operating systems) that you’d like your team to really focus on when developing mobile content. You’ll notice that Android and IOS (Apple products) cover a very  large share of the market, so rest easy.

From here, you have the foundation for our next few topics: The Content Plan (where and how to surface your content on a mobile device), Platforms (to help your teams quickly execute the content plan), and Testing Strategies (to create the best reading experience on your chosen devices). Stay tuned, you’ll see those here on the blog in weeks to come!