We have an obesity epidemic, but it isn't just in our waistlines and on our hips.
It is also in our content, on our websites, in our emails, and our social media.
Accustomed to all the space in the world up until now, we have not yet adjusted to the new world of mobile.
Most people already may be reading our content (or perhaps, not reading it) on their mobile devices, where skinny copy pays off in better readability, more attention, and more action taken.
This morning I saw a blog post in my RSS feed that had four paragraphs. Those paragraphs ranged from 11 to 17 lines of copy...all smashed together.
I clicked out to the actual post where I counted the lines, not the sentences. A paragraph could be only three or four sentences, but, if those sentences are long, they could take up a lot of space. These particular paragraphs resulted in huge blocks of copy.
The post was tough to read even on my computer screen. On a smartphone screen, it may well have scared away any potential reader. The point is that we must write for visual readability, not to abide by any former standard of what is correct and what is not.
The style in which we write is today determined not by what our professors taught, but by the size of the device on which our content is read. Mobile equals short sentences and short paragraphs.
We're all guilty...you, me, them. Even though we happily Twitter away in 140 characters or less, the lesson doesn't seem to have followed to other media. Heck, even a long Facebook update is...well...too long for easy reading and short attention spans.
Here's what some of the copywriting and nonprofit experts say about mobile and the coming skinny revolution:
- Daniel Berkowitz, in Death to Internet Week, says, "Facebook announced it has more than 500 million mobile users. There's no turning back now that Facebook has the majority of its audience accessing the service from mobile devices."
- GraphicMail.com counsels that messages on mobile need to be short but still long enough to make the sell, pointing out that "...good copywriters have always known: If you can tease a reader into an ad, they will finish reading it."
- Copyblogger, in a post on what a mobile friendly website looks like, says, "Keep in mind the whitespace around paragraphs and words. If your content is so cramped that it makes readers physically uncomfortable, they might not hang out for very long."
- In an immensely helpful post about making your website mobile accessible, KISSmetrics suggests talking in soundbites, saying, "Keep your text short, sweet and to the point. Make it catchy. Create memorable phrases that your audience can easily tweet out and repost."
- Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox even suggests building a separate website for mobile, saying, "Build a separate mobile-optimized site (or mobile site) if you can afford it. When people access sites using mobile devices, their measured usability is much higher for mobile sites than for full sites."
- Bob Jones, writing at Socialbrite, explores the issues around mobile that face fundraisers, stating that "Expecting a smartphone user to enter full name, address and credit card number can be a non-starter."
- The Agitator wonders why there is such a Deadly Silence about mobile from fundraisers, suggesting, "Fundraisers have lot to learn about optimizing their efforts for mobile response. Yet I don't see fundraisers talking about the subject ... including all those consultants occupying the online fundraising space."
Getting skinny with your writing is, of course, only the start. For nonprofits, going mobile involves so many elements that it would seem that we are indeed entering into another universe altogether.
I'm definitely going skinny in my copy.
How about you? What issues are facing your nonprofit in the mobile era? How are you addressing them?
- Give Your Mobile Readers Options
- Writing a Mobile Friendly Website
- Text-to-Give Fundraising Campaigns Take Off
Photo: Peter Cade/Getty Images