Making the Transaction

Katie Dohman

Writing and designing for the mobile web—it’s about being pithy on an even smaller scale. There’s a mode that will be helpful to keep in mind when considering content for the mobile web: transactional.

The inverted pyramid keels at even steeper pitch, and each word must work twice as hard on a miniscule screen.

Typically, people logging on from Blackberrys, Treos, iPhones, and the like are looking to make some kind of transaction—bill pay, driving directions, checking a bank balance, fantasy football rankings, the weather, or their flight departure time.

And since they’re on the fly (sometimes literally), they want what they want and want to move on. Small screens, even tinier keyboards, and limited navigational capabilities means they don’t have time or patience to mess with multiple screens, gigantic graphics, or extra features—whether writers or designers find it to be filler or not.

It comes back to the mantra of keeping it simple. Think about what users are coming to the site for and make it readily available, near the top of the page. They might be in harried situations or moods and need to take care of business immediately.

Make transactions simple—one-button "pay now", "check flight status," or other commands with easy-to-use forms (as few open fields as possible) at the tops of pages and little to no redirection to other screens.

As always, the simplest routes and products have the most complex thoughts behind them, and have to be planned in advance so that the web site serves all of its users, no matter from which device they access the web.