Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Our world is full of big screens and small screens, but the question is this: how do we optimize messages for the small screen?
With such a small window to keep things contained within, it sometimes seems difficult. Below are seven tips from MakeUseOf to help you with writing the perfect email (or text, or Facebook message, or Snapchat message, or…) for the mobile inbox.
Keep It Brief
Always consider your reader’s device when writing a message. Big screen? Lots of room to play with. Small screen? They are probably reading the message while driving and have about two seconds to get to the point without having an accident or getting caught by the cops.
Okay, first, we do not condone phone usage while driving, and two, that was a super-hyperbolic statement.
But for real, phones are small — save for those gigantor phablets. Don’t let your reader have to keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling…
Don’t Use “Text-Speak”
Text-speak is out. Honestly, we don’t think it was ever in! These days, people tend to actually make a bit of an effort with their messages (especially with autocorrect). That said, since the trend is moving towards proper English, text-speak – as in how r u, wutz up, g2g – is a bit archaic, coming from old instant messengers and mobile numerical keypads.
Realistically, people are likely going to take more time deciphering your broken English than they would an effort-filled message mixed in with a few typos.
Cut The Fat
It’s easy to try and sound clever in emails. It’s also easy to try and transmit every single aspect of the point of your message in order to convey some form of context. But think to yourself: what does your reader really need to know?
Keep the jokes brief for mobile messages (but don’t completely get rid of them), and try to limit any extra information that your reader absolutely doesn’t have to have.
Let’s use a hypothetical party invitation as an example: for this email, provide the purpose of the party, the time, date, and location. Don’t mention the food that will be there, the activities you’ll be doing, or who else you’ve invited. Granted, always offer to answer any extra questions people may ask.
Know Your Context
Mobile messages are meant to be short, so be direct with everything you say. It’s not rude by any means — if anything, it’s more convenient. Granted, since emails serve as forms of communication for both phones and computers, it’s hard to know what you’re typing for.
If you’re responding to an email, try and pay attention to see if there’s a “Sent from my iPhone” or “Sent from my Windows Phone” tag in the email. This isn’t just a branding thing — it’s useful to know how to respond.
You can also typically tell if the sender is on a read-friendly device if the message is a bit more drawn out, but paying attention to cues like this will certainly help in the long run.
Let The Subject Get To The Point
For mobile emails, try and let your subject be capable of being read as the entire message. More specifically, let’s go back to our party example. A good subject line would be: My Birthday Party, 5pm on Sunday.
For this, the reader knows you’re having a birthday party, and they should block out their time starting at 5pm on Sunday. From there, the meat of the message can provide the address, details on what to bring, and about how long the party will last. Again, cut the fat, but don’t be afraid to provide the essentials.
Include Full Contact Info
Something that’s always irritating with mobile emails — people don’t include good signatures! Here are the details you should typically have in your email signature: your name that you like to go by, preferred email address, mobile phone number, and a personal website link.
That’s all. Nothing else. I mean, personal titles are okay. A company name is okay, too. But anything else is kind of… excessive. Your signature should be both informative and concise. So no life quotes or attached pictures of cats. Please.
Why include the email address? There’s always the possibility of the recipient wanting to respond with a new subject line (say, for instance, in a group email — so it’s easier to simply copy and paste).
Keep Images A Little Bit Smaller
If you’re sending an image as a reference (not necessarily to be edited or used on a project), try to compress things a little. For instance, the iPhone allows you to choose the file based on size: small, medium, large, and actual.
Realistically, you could get away with the small size, but the medium might be a little bit better — people do like things to be a little bigger than they should be.
This helps with slow wireless speeds and bad public Wifi that the mobile user may encounter. Plus, if they opt to save it to their phone, it reduces the storage size!
Then again, some people turn images off for emails, so make sure to include a note if the image you’re sending is absolutely necessary to view.
What other tips do you have for writing the perfect email for the mobile inbox? Do you think cutting the fat is a good idea?