Today’s phones enable people to do most of the things they used to use computers for. It’s therefore worth considering how this affects communication.

Here are 5 issues to bear in mind when communicating with smartphones.

  1. Quick Response (QR) codes. Black and white boxes which when scanned by a mobile phone camera take the user to a weblink. Flourishing, because of the take up of internet-enabled phones. Do consider using them on your print items to provide an instant connection to your website. Watch out for them on the high street – Waitrose and Marks & Spencers are using them on marketing material.
  2. Two thumb typing = soundbytes. Get used to receivingemails such as this one from a client: ‘Hi gILl, I belive tyo learners shuld be mentnd in pack, CU L8r @ meeting’. The keyboard on a smartphone makes for two thumb typing, and lends itself to abbreviations and Twitter-speak and the use of soundbytes to communicate. Make allowances. Assume the sender is out-and-about rather than (as I did) that their computer’s been hijacked by a small child.
  3. Let the moment pass. Without a large screen separating you from your clients it can feel more intimate and less formal. With a phone you can easily respond. Who hasn’t had an email from someone late at night clearly the worse for wear? Ok, only me then…By the time you open up a laptop the moment may have passed.
  4. Teeny tiny website. Small screens continue to limit the usefulness of smartphones. And you’re losing customers if your website doesn’t display well on a mobile device such as a smartphone. Worth considering when designing websites.
  5. Don’t expect attachments to be opened. Or read. Bear in mind that one major weakness is not being able to see an email attachment easily.If dealing with a time sensitive issue it’s better by email to a computer. I know this from bitter experience. Proofs were circulated for approval as an email attachment. The print deadline was missed because a  smartphone user couldn’t see the attachments and was commenting blind. She assumed we knew. We didn’t. A basic communication failure.

The general rule to remember is this. Smartphone users tend to be consumers of content not generators – smartphones are mainly used for surfing the web, checking contact address books details or social networking sites but not for working on documents (which includes reviewing them! see point 4).