Optimizing your Digital Communications for Mobile

  • July 17, 2015

girlonphone“Mobile-friendly” is a big buzz word right now among all industries and it is no wonder why. According to a Nielson, in 2013, 79% of young adults (aged 18-24) now own smartphones, and that number is only growing. What are young adults doing on their smart phones? A study on the latest digital trends shows that the top mobile activities include watching video, using social media apps, mobile banking and playing mobile games. More and more young adults are utilizing their mobile phones as their main connection to the Internet. In fact, 15% of Americans aged 18-29 are heavily dependent on a smartphone for online access. Furthermore, 30% use their mobile device to take a class or get educational content.

Digital natives, the generational name for current college students, feel right at home with mobile usage and expect all communications to be delivered in a mobile-friendly way. Responsive design, the official term for mobile-friendly design, is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to prove an optimal interaction and viewing experience across a wide range of devices from desktop computers to mobile phones. “Optimal interaction” usually means easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling.

You probably communicate with your students digitally in a number of different ways, including email, website, social media and special programs (ex. orientation). If you haven’t already, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your digital communications are mobile-friendly.

Emails

Email communication is perhaps the number one way you communicate with prospective and current students, as well as alumni. Responsive emails are especially important considering 65% of all emails get opened on a mobile device first.

So how do you get a responsive email template? A large majority of email marketing companies, including MailChimp, Constant Contact and Marketo, offer free responsive templates with the subscriptions. If you’d like more customization, companies like Zurb and Email on Acid also provide free and paid-for templates.

If you are looking to create a responsive email, some key factors are:

  • Media Queries: this defines the CSS styles to use based on screen size. For example, it states “if the email is viewed on a screen size of 480px or less, use the following CSS”.
  • Enlarged Fonts: this allows for easier reading on a mobile device
  • Change Navigation: mobile screen sizes often use a shortened navigation
  • Change or Hide Content: Email newsletters may appear normal on a desktop, but they can be very lengthy on a mobile device. With this, you can hide certain elements
  • Large CTA(Call to Action) buttons or Social Media Buttons: Ensure all of your linked buttons are large enough to click on—40px is typically the smallest you want to go

Website

A mobile-friendly website is equally (or sometimes more) as important as a mobile-friendly emails. Your website is your source of information, and many students access information through their phone.

There are two options for mobile-friendly sites: responsive or a separate mobile website. A responsive site allows you have a single website that automatically fits to the size of the device. A mobile website is designed specifically for mobile devices—keeping screen size, touch interactions, and limited connection speed in mind.

There are pros and cons to both—responsive tends to be less expensive since you only need to build one site, but the user experience isn’t optimal. With mobile sites, the user experience is better and load time is faster, but it can be more expensive and it is not universally compatible. For a pros and cons comparison, see Design Modo’s article here.

Social Content

While all social media platforms have a mobile-friendly app, the content you post to the various sites run the risk of not being optimized for a mobile phone.

First off, you want to ensure that all your links you post lead to mobile-friendly sites. A large complaint mobile users have is clicking on a link and having it lead to a desktop-only version. Second, you want to appeal to users that are “casual browsers”—meaning you want short, concise content, that can lead to a longer article or explanation. Utilizing headers and bullet points can help with this.

Third, be sure to utilize visual content. Videos and eye-catching photos are a sure way to get users to engage with your profile. Keeping videos short and sweet is best when targeting mobile users.

Orientation Programs or Training

Universities have many programs designed for all types of students, and one of their first encounters is orientation. Incoming students expect all online programs to be mobile-friendly, and that rings true for online orientation as well. A mobile-friendly orientation can make your orientation much easier to access, simple to use and create a relevant experience for students.

As a student transitions through the student life-cycle, continue to create mobile-friendly program, such as open house, graduation information and even webinars if your university offers these.

Comevo offers a responsive design to ensure your students can access their orientation on any device at any time. Check out our responsive template with @school online orientation.