Tips from the Team: Simulating Mobile Experience

If you’re anything like me, your phone is glued to your hand almost 24/7. Mobile browsing is the quickest and most convenient way to stay up to date on everything happening around the world that interests me. It always feels like there’s never enough time in my day, so I use every extra minute – whether I’m standing in line at the grocery store, or on my way to work – to tackle the long list of reads that accrues daily.

Often it’s a piece a friend posted on Facebook or I’ll find myself on a new website by way of an article a co-worker dropped in Slack. Once I’ve finished reading, I go back to Facebook or Slack in search of the next thing that catches my eye. But why should I look further than where I already am? As a publisher, you should do your best to keep reader attention once they’re on your site.

In other words, interest readers in some other content within your site, otherwise they’ll just to go back to Facebook. 

We consume content on mobile in an entirely different way than on a desktop computer, so if you want to ensure your mobile audience keeps reading, first understand the different behavior then adapt a strategy that gives visitors opportunities to keep reading on your site, rather than giving them time to look elsewhere for the next piece of content they’ll read.

This is easier to do than you may think. All you need is Chartbeat’s Heads Up Display and your browser’s Developer Tools to simulate your visitors’ mobile experience.

Take a look at the desktop and mobile view of the article below. Desktop readers have several pieces they can easily click into from the right hand rail but that disappears for mobile users and gets pushed to the bottom of the page where the majority of visitors don’t even get to.

desktop-view mobile-view

So how can you see your site through your readers’ eyes to combat mobile drop-off?

  1. Load the Heads Up Display on the page where you want to mimic a mobile experience.
  2. Access DevTools by opening the Chrome menu at the top-right of your browser window, then select More Tools > Developer Tools.
  3. Toggle device toolbar and select the device that you want to mimic.
    Note: If you’re not using Google Chrome you can still emulate device types — that functionality is built into most modern browsers. Check out these instructions for Firefox, for Safari, and for Internet Explorer.
  4. Pivot on Mobile in the Heads Up Display dock to use the scroll depth indicator to inform where you can strategically place links and recommend other stories. Reminder: to expand the bars along the left, click on the scroll depth indicator.

And you don’t have to do this for every piece of content on your site. Pivot on mobile in your Chartbeat Dashboard and pick out the top performing pieces throughout the day and start with those. Make it easy for your mobile visitors to read more and more of the content you worked hard to create!

I hear from my clients all the time how using Chartbeat tools helps them reinforce their editorial instincts and develops a culture of data in their newsroom. Refining your content promotion strategy to pay special attention to the devices people are using can start slow, but will serve you well in the long run. As technology continues to evolve there will only be more devices and platforms that your audience will use to consume your content, and if optimizing reader experience is already one of your tried and true habits, you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors.

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