My dad would always know who to blame for the high phone bill each month by looking at the wall opposite to where our telephone stood. Only one person in my house could lean his feet against it and make those footprints. My big-foot brother.
I, on the other hand, hated the phone. As a visual person, I found talking on it quite awkward. But, those days are long gone and mobile technology has won my heart. Without speaking one word, I can email, SMS and access all social networking platforms from one single device.
I’ve noticed my feelings are mutual among the masses. The Mobility 2012 research study done by World Wide Worx and backed by FNB shows that the average cellphone user in an emerging market country like South Africa has increased their data spending from eight percent at the end of 2010 to 12% in mid-2012. Topping that, voice calling has decreased from 77% to 73%, while SMS expenditure remains constant at 12%.
But that’s just South Africa. According to Nomad Device Lab, of the 2.3-billion internet users worldwide, 1.2-billion are on the mobile web. Cisco reveals that in 2012 global mobile data traffic grew 70% and predicts that by 2017 it will surpass 10 exabytes per month.
Let’s look at how mobile fairs when it comes to commercial email and how it can be improved. Sending email to desktop and mobile is like sending an email to two different languages. One audience will have a better experience than the other. So how do we send the same email to a computer and mobile device so that it translates effectively on both?
Here are a few tips:
Responsive design is CSS code that allows your email layout to shape shift according to the size of your device. Without it, you’ll have a zoomed out version of your email appearing on someone’s mobile. Believe me, Hollywood has no more room for “Honey, I shrunk the email!” But getting back to why this is actually an issue; a zoomed out email means you have to zoom in. When you zoom in you have to scroll around with your finger to find what you are looking for. This is cause to several issues. One, it’s annoying, second you may accidentally tap a link you wanted to avoid and worse you scroll so far that you find your email browser has shifted to the next email. These issues are all avoidable with responsive design.
Simple one-column layout
A simple design with one column makes scrolling a lot more enjoyable on mobile, many columns mean more horizontal scrolling causing the same issues discussed above. You have two options. You could design the email in several columns and then use responsive design to render the layout into one column for mobile, or you could design your email layout in one column from scratch, making life a lot easier for your designer.
While those viewing your email on PCs may have time to sit at their desk with a cup of coffee and read your lengthy email, most mobile users are on the go and, increasingly, that means most email users. A 2010 ReturnPath statistic reveals that four out of 10 emails sent are opened on mobile. If more or less half your email users are on the go, I’d make it a point of tailoring content specific to their needs, which in this case would mean keeping it short.
General on screen mobile design
There’s no clicking on mobile, there’s tapping. So make your links noticeable and easy enough for a wide thumb to tap. Make use of bold and striking images. Smartphones are always boasting about their great on-screen display, use it! Having said that, don’t embed your images in your email. If someone is using mobile data, you want to make everything as small as possible for download, give your reader the choice to download your images if they want to see them. Finally, use sans-serif fonts in your design, they’re a lot more readable on-screen than serif fonts. Don’t believe me? Browse your social media platforms and see for yourself.