I propose that it is impossible to scale the web experience from desktop to mobile or the other way around with today’s tools. I am sure that hordes of web designers are gathering to burn me in effigy for uttering such heresy. After all, everyone knows that responsive design and CSS fixed all these problems. This is sadly, “Not True.”
I am not arguing that responsive design does not work because technically, it does. However, technically scaling the content does not cure the communication challenge. The audience expectations and needs are different on a mobile device compared to a desktop. I propose that mobile users are looking for short copy that delivers the content they want quickly. They want the phone number and address at the top with the phone number active to a click to call feature. Mobile devices are not designed as a reading device for long reflective research. Desktop users are often after all the details and while long and short copy is still a debate in the industry, there is little doubt that long copy belongs in desktop and short on mobile.
Getting your design to pass a mobile friendly test is only the first step in the process of adapting your content for the mobile world. The web experience that happens after a click on your ad, is how clicks convert into business value. So here is the second big shocker: “Size Matters!” There is a big difference between mobile and desktop audiences, and trying to use one set of content for both is going to result in a compromise somewhere. You have to rethink your audience and design the communications for them.
Google is in the throes of converting AdWords Design from Desktop First to Mobile First. We propose that both of these are important and each has its own issues. It’s not as simple as what goes first. Going mobile fixes some things and breaks others. Different audiences respond differently. I know a lot of people and I know their needs, wants, and expectations are different when they are working at their desktop compared to their phone. In many cases, the desktop user is more reflective and more likely to be in research mode looking for deep levels of information. The mobile user is often looking at much less content that is very direct and to the point so their goals are often to find a phone number, address, or other very short information. The massive amounts of data that the desktop values are a barrier to the information mobile users seek. For many audiences, especially mobile audiences, a small direct to the point website in mobile is what they want. The complexity of this goes beyond desktop and mobile because there is at least one more dimension to consider. Are they operating as a consumer or a business?
Did you know that the marketing industry has been debating this very issue for generations? It’s true, because all we did was change the words that describe the problem. In the olden days, before the internet was part of our everyday lives, marketing debated the short versus long copy and the debate continues today. What has changed, is our ability to interact and modify our behavior based on user input.
Maybe this could be as simple as asking the visitor what they want. Do you want a short and to the point answer or do you want all the details? The other alternative would be to give them the short version with a connection to the long copy on a section, by section basis. The bottom line here is that our world is changing and our methods of communication have to keep up.
I like to close all my articles with some actionable items that our readers can use today to make their account better. This topic is resistant to a short-fix actionable item so what I hope is that you will rethink your audiences and find a way to deliver the right type of copy to the right audience.