Is your content a good read?
Whether you are writing web content for your own blog, or for others for marketing purposes, the one phrase that has been drilled into your head is “Content is King”. The ‘content’ in content marketing is obviously key. But just as important is its readability. As with any novel--without engaging and readable content, nobody is, well, reading.
In fact, if we say ‘content is king’, then readability is the emperor that rules all kings. You may be the expert in whatever field you are writing, but your writing will flop if people can’t easily digest it. To quickly and easily improve the readability of your content for websites, consider the following five tips and tricks:
1. Let your text breathe.
Line spacing and white space is just as important as the text content itself. From oil paintings to photography, the concept of negative space is essential in controlling where the viewer’s eye focuses. Applying this concept to your writing can greatly improve the readability of content for websites. Using blank spaces, or gaps between paragraphs, creates a frame around your writing. This helps the reader’s eye move down the page and enhances portions of your writing. Additionally, pay attention to inter-line spacing, or leading. Give readers enough space to easily recognize the distinctive shape of each letter.
2. Subheads, Bullets, and Scannability.
Books are separated by chapters for good reason. Readers want to read in easily manageable and digestible portions. Subheadings in your content for websites help alert readers to a subject change and the closing of a section. Bullet lists help break large lists and comments into a more readable format. Both of these tactics also improve an article’s scannability, allowing readers to scan to get an initial sense of the writing, and easily find the most relevant information.
3. Avoid long text lines.
Readers may expect longer lines in print format, but when it comes to content for websites, 50 to 60 characters is ideal. Long lines can scare off a casual visitor. Lengthy text can also be hard to focus, impeding readers from easily jumping from one line to the next. However, short lines can also become a reader deterrent. When paragraphs contain too many brief sentences, the reader’s eye is prompted to move too quickly back and forth. This breaks a natural reading rhythm and can cause essential words to be skipped. It is therefore important to use a mixture of sentence lengths and structures.
4. Short and pointed paragraphs.
Reading from a screen is tiring. In fact, a research study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that a whopping 79 percent of tested readers always scanned any new web page they came across. Only 16 percent of tested readers read word by word. Short, pointed, and concise paragraphs allow readers to quickly scan paragraphs for relevant keywords and content. Breaking content for websites into more concise paragraphs allows you to better capture your audience’s attention and entice them with promises of desirable information that is quick and easy.
5. Build in contrast.
Incorporating white spaces in your writing is one great way of building contrast in your web page. Another popular tactic is to add typographical contrast by utilizing darker or larger type in your headings and subheadings. This allows main topic ideas to stand out from your paragraphs, helping to guide the reader’s eye down the page. When building a web page, it is important to keep high contrast between the text and its background. Avoid bad color combinations like white text on yellow background, or blue text on red. Noisy background images are also a huge reader distraction.
The style and structure of content for websites is key to effectively communicating with website visitors. Remember, the majority of web readers are lazy, often scanning text for relevant information and poignant details. A very small percentage of readers will thoroughly read your website’s content. To thus satisfy both the highly interested minority and the lazy majority, use these readability tips and tricks in your web content.