By Francesco Pugliano, Head of Mobile Localization – eBay.
This post originally appeared on Francesco’s blog, Localization in Silicon Valley, and is re-posted with permission.
I’m constantly approached by developers working on new Mobile apps and by translators working on the localization of existing mobile apps asking me for guidelines and best practices on how to write or translate for Mobile. I’ve given the topic a lot of thoughts and I came out with the 3 magic Fs rule: No, the 3 Fs don’t stand for Francesco, Francesco and Francesco; they stand for Fast, Focus and Fun.
When writing for mobile, keep in mind the intended audience: mobile users have less time and shorter attention spam than regular web users. And they want to have fun. So here it goes:
1. Fast: Keep it brief. Be concise and precise. Try to use the same number of characters as in the English source (including spaces), and don’t use more unless absolutely necessary. Describe only what’s necessary, and no more. Don’t try to explain subtle differences. They will be lost on most users.
2. Focus: Keep it simple. Pretend you’re speaking to someone who’s smart and competent, but doesn’t understand technical jargon. Use short words, active verbs, and common nouns. Put the most important thing first. The first words in a sentence should include at least a hint of the most important information in the phrase.
3. Fun: Be friendly. Talk directly to the reader using second person “you”*. If your text doesn’t read the way you’d say it in a casual conversation, it’s probably not the way you should write it. Don’t be abrupt or annoying. Make the user feel safe, happy and energized. Don’t use abbreviations to shorten a word or a phrase. Abbreviations as a shortcut for space restrictions must be avoided at all times.
1. Keep it brief.
2. Keep it simple.
3. Be friendly.
4. Put the most important thing first.
5. Describe only what’s necessary, and no more.
6. Don’t use abbreviations to shorten a word or phrase
Being fast means that features are fast to use, therefore the text needs to be fast to read. Focus is about simplicity, therefore the text needs to be easy to read. Fun is about engagement, therefore text needs to be friendly.
Other posts by Francesco:
User Experience Design for Mobile