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Content on the move: How users interact with mobile sites

John Murray

The way that your audience views information online varies depending upon the device they are using, but utilising this to your advantage can have a massive impact on your content’s performance.

The viewing pattern referred to as the ‘golden triangle’ relates to the gaze metric, which is how an individual views a standard desktop screen. The findings have  long been used to identify that content in the upper left-hand side of a screen will receive far more attention than any other area.

However, when it comes to viewing data on a mobile device, which can account for almost half of all network traffic, the principle no longer applies. According to research published by Google and conducted by Emory University, it has been found that 68% of users browsing on a mobile device focus their attention directly to the middle of the screen, with 86% viewing only the top two-thirds.

Knowing how users look at content on a device is important for maximising the potential for grabbing their attention.

Both the desktop and mobile viewing patterns mean that having an eye-catching headline is important, but it also makes the first few sentences of your content equally intriguing.

Where the impact of viewing mobile content differs from a desktop is in these key areas:

• Paragraphs need to be shorter
• Sentences should be concise
• Images attract more attention than text alone

Don’t let the above fool you though, this is not about writing less content. In fact, the truth is far from it.

These principles should be applied to writing long articles that are better adapted for mobile users. It has been suggested that people on smartphones and tablets will actually be more likely to read longer articles, as they often have more time and are generally reading from a position of captivity, like being stuck on the train.

So, make the most of the captive commuter and think about how your content can be adapted to make the most of the mobile revolution.

John is every inch the wordsmith and loves a game of Scrabble above all else. With experience writing for newspapers, John’s time at university was spent studying Creative Writing – something which comes across in his love of the pun.

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