As more and more readers want their news and information within arm’s reach, it’s clear that magazine publishers cannot afford to ignore the mobile market. But if you want to grab readers and retain them, you have to do more than shrink the format and deliver it to their mobile devices. Here are some tips for optimizing the user’s mobile experience.
Design and format
The most important concern of good mobile design is readability. Your audience needs to be able to easily decipher on-screen text or they will quickly move on. Use short sentences and small chunks of content. Use plenty of white space, and for the text, stick to simple color choices such as black, white, or gray, as these stand out from the background.
It’s important to use a mobile-first strategy. Many publishers design their website for the desktop and try to adapt it to a mobile device. It’s much more effective to design a faster, more functional site for mobile, which can easily be adapted to the desktop. One of the easiest and most effective mobile-first strategies is to transform a print-ready PDF to HTML reflowable articles.
One of the problems of designing for mobile devices is the wide variety of screen sizes. Designers have two options for solving this problem: adaptive design or responsive design. Adaptive design uses several fixed layouts for the six most common screen widths: 320, 480, 760, 960, 1200, and 1600 pixels. The site detects the available space and chooses the layout most suitable for the screen. Responsive design rearranges the site elements to fit the available space in response to changes in screen width. Responsive design is easiest to implement; however, adaptive provides the best user experience. Do your homework to determine the best method for your website and audience.
The user experience is everything. A poor user experience will turn frustrated readers away.
- Use smart features such as autocomplete, which is especially helpful for filling out forms, and keep forms short.
- Because of the small size, the less user input required, the better, so in addition to keeping forms short, keep URLs short, offer alternate types of input (e.g., voice and video), and keep scrolling to a minimum.
- Use videos and images, which are more enjoyable to view than large chunks of text.
- Prioritize navigation according to the way users work with functionality — the most popular tasks go at the top.
- Make sure your site has clickability, which means making things such as buttons larger and avoiding dropdown menus.
Make sure you understand the functionality desired by a user so that you can provide that functionality and deliver a premier mobile user experience through your app.
Impatient mobile users want their content now, not 15 seconds from now. Optimizing page loading times is crucial for retaining readers. For faster page loading time, you’ll need to optimize for speed, payload, and delivery.
- Enhance the quality, speed, and scope of your web hosting service, and make sure you have adequate CPU and memory resources
- Reduce the resources required by your webpages, and use page caching
- Use clean coding practices
- Host fonts from a content delivery network (CDN)
- Use accelerated mobile pages (AMP), which cuts out the elements that tend to drag websites down, and helps pages load almost instantaneously
- Minimize the amount of content and number of requests sent over the wire so users can interact with your site more quickly
- Defer below-the-fold image calls
- Use inline cascading style sheets (CSS) to reduce the number of files the browser must download prior to displaying your webpage
- Serve files from a content delivery network (CDN), rather than letting each request hit your app server and database. This reduces round-trip time (RTT) so that users get content immediately without requests waiting in queues or requiring database queries.
- Use lazy loading — normally when you visit a new webpage, the browser renders the entire page before you can see content above the fold. With lazy loading, the browser loads only content that’s within the viewport of the user.
Your mobile strategy should be all about convenience and usability. Pay attention not only to technical details but also to contents for the mobile context. Consider the environmental factors and circumstances of the users and place appropriate content on mobile landing pages. It only takes a few simple steps to make your magazine website mobile-friendly, but it will pay off immediately in user loyalty.
Contact your Sheridan representative or visit our contact page to ask how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.