On July 11, I attended the Mass Technology Leadership Council’s 2012 Mobile Summit in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dozens of developers, entrepreneurs, and IT decision-makers gathered at the Microsoft New England Research and Development (NERD) Center to discuss the next generation of mobile technology. Mobile summit

The hot topic of the morning was content, the subject of a panel moderated by Phuc Trong, the Managing Director at Mobext. The panelists were:

  • Phil Costa, Director of Product Management at Brightcove
  • Jeff Moriarty, Vice President, Digital Products at The Boston Globe
  • Sanjay Vakil, Director of Mobile Product at TripAdvisor

Discussion centered on the attributes one’s online content must have to be most effective and compelling. While content might be text, pictures, video, products for sale, or any number of other formats, the panelists agreed, it must all be:

Discoverable

First, customers must be able to find your content. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) matters just as much in the mobile space as it does on the desktop.

“You need to pay attention to your mobile pages,” Vakil said. Search engines utilize crawlers that masquerade as mobile browsers specifically so that they can return results relevant for mobile users.

One way to make sure mobile pages are just as optimized as desktop pages is to use responsive web design, in which the same content is delivered to any browser but is formatted to fit the user’s screen. This approach was advocated by Moriarty, who said it had been successful at bostonglobe.com.

Costa, whose company specializes in video content, said that transcribing videos or tagging them with keywords is essential to making them discoverable.

Readable

After machines read your content, actual people must be able to as well. In some cases, a mobMaking mobile websitesilized website can accomplish this task quite well. Costa said that native apps are very useful at this point in the customer acquisition lifecycle, because installing an app and taking up virtual real estate on one’s phone or tablet creates a tighter relationship between content and user.



Relevant

Any information “above the fold” on a newspaper’s front page is much more noticeable than any below the fold. On a desktop browser, that translates to the first screen a user can see without scrolling. Much less space is available on a mobile browser, so the very first information a user sees has to be relevant.

Shareable

Because so much of the online experience is dominated by sharing among friends and colleagues oSocial media sharingn sites like Twitter and Facebook, content must be easily shareable. It’s a way of spreading your content further but also of encouraging readers and viewers to be more actively engaged with it.




Actionable

Mobile devices are great for consuming information, but typing can be a hassle. If content is behind a paywall, logging in must be automatic. If a user has visited before, that should be remembered.

“Everything that stands in the way is a problem,” Vakil said. Take away as many barriers as possible between your consumers and your content and you have the best chance of reaching them.


Tags: above the fold, jeff moriarty, mass tlc, microsoft nerd, Mobile Summit, phil costa, responsive web design

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