Usability of mobile application text

30 December 2016

A lot of information is available about how to create the text for the Web interface. And as for the text for mobile applications the situation is the opposite. And by the way, the text for the web and mobile applications is not the same thing.

The mobile application has both the interface text , which increases the level of interaction and the text content, the task of which  is communication.

Usability Text in the mobile interface

Text content in a mobile application has somewhat different conditions of use than a text for desktop reading.

The difference between reading from PC and Smartphone

It is important to understand that the smartphone is not a mini-computer. And applications for it have a principle of interaction that differs from the PC.

It means:

  • mobile screen is smaller;
  • operating on mobile is better and faster;
  • focus on the perception of mobile content is less;
  • the user’s attention is more focused for desktop and expects long interaction;
  • the user of the mobile device is ready to accept a smaller amount of information and give it much less time and attention.

Peculiarities of reading from mobile

1. Amount vs.Interest

The mobile user either wastes time by viewing the text content, or is in a hurry. The researchers argue that in both cases a large amount of textual information irritates the user. However, we currently noticed at times what is interesting to us personally is read carefully the in any volume.

2. Complexity

Mobile content is two times harder to read. This is due to incomplete informational context or lack of it. Screen restricts the field of user’s view, forcing his short-term memory to remember more and for a long time. It is tiring and reduces the concentration.

3. Navigation

Long scrolling and inconvenient navigation in the text (continuous text without formatting, and blocks) make it difficult to read and prevent text scanning.

How the text content for mobile is made

Nielsen Norman Group research on the mobile content showed that the editing of articles for reading mobile apps should be more thorough than for full-featured websites. The researchers explain this to lower margin of patience from users.

Mobile text in design, Usability

1. Restrictions

The interface text constantly faces with restrictions: the screen size and the size of the text element (ex, button). So, often, when developing an application design situations arise with too long names of buttons.

For example, the working title of a button – “get started” (11 characters). And the title that placed in the layout is not greater than 10. To do this, we should rename the buttons to preserve the clarity of action. For this example, an appropriate title would be “Start”, or the other, depending on the context and further user action.

2. Guidelines

We do text formatting on the recommendations of software developers of mobile platforms. Guidelines contain valid patterns of all mobile application pages, including content and text.

3. UI-kit

How the buttons with titles and an example of text content will look like, the UI-kit of application can be the best demonstration. Here you can evaluate the aesthetics and readability of the proposed text. Samples of UI-kit and layouts with text blocks can be found here.

How to write a short text

How to understand how much text is sufficient for the perception of the mobile user? What is more difficult – expanded text or short? And what is the mechanism of writing?

Here are some considerations based on experience and research.

1. In short!

“Short – it is too long for mobile. Today ultra-short rocks “- usabilitists claim.

This is the main difficulty. Immediately after understanding the idea appears crazy verbiage that you want to shrink to a minimum. Or choose the most exact words so that they clearly reflect the meaning of what has been said and were not commonplace. Therefore, the text that is “short”, thought out usually longer.

To reduce the time and observe the brevity, the text content for mobile can be developed according to the algorithm:

  • Write as it is on the subject;
  • The most important information directly on the first screen;
  • Takeout background information for the second half of the text: before it gets only particularly interested reader.
  • Simplify the syntax, remove stop words;
  • Remove sentences containing unsubstantiated allegations;
  • Remove meaningless proposals (the so-called “water” or “verbiage”);
  • And cut, especially those places where the reading attanrion is reduced.

2. It is the piece of paper that makes the difference

Working with a very short text interface it is easier by using only pen and paper. Firstly, the paper is easier to start any new task. Several sketches and key ideas help to overcome a psychological barrier and start working.

Secondly, the paper not only tolerate much, but stores the ideas. Crossed ideas do not go away. In the process it is possible to go back and rethink or add something. In a text editor, removing a few bad choices in a row, you can spend hours in front of a blank sheet. So let the ‘paper’ way be archaic, but it works. In addition, the paper – “device” that does not require recharging.

Also, the service or editor that can display just the number of characters in a word or sentence is needed.

As it turned out, the text for mobile applications – work fine, and requires not only the necessary skills from the writer, but also a professional designer. And it is better when the two interact. Writing this very text fundamentally differs from the standard web copywriter work by its ultra-shortness and a large number of editorial changes.

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