How to Write ‘Scannable’ Web Content

Need to improve your web content?

  • How much words should I put on a web page?
  • How do I present the material?
  • How do I know that anyone reads it?

Research suggests that users don’t read on the web –  they scan.

This means that when you are converting documents to the web, you need to make them as ‘scannable’ as possible.

Users scan webpages.

With this in mind, we’ve prepared some guidelines when writing for the Web:

  1. Reduce the word count as much as possible without losing the article’s meaning. Short pages tend to be read more than long unwieldy tomes. Readers have an aversion to the Page Down button on their keyboard; most will not work their way down a page. They prefer short, snappy pages.
  2. Keep one idea per paragraph. This makes it easy to read and navigate. In the reader’s mind they’ll think, “this paragraph is about this, while this other paragraph is about that”, and enjoy scanning the article. If you bury multiple ideas inside a paragraph, they’ll resent it and go elsewhere.
  3. Use bullet lists, bold the important text and put in sub-headings to highlight the main points.
  4. Use an “inverted pyramid” style so that the main points are the top of the page and the rest of the story sits underneath it. Classic journalism writing style!
  5. Use oodles of White Space to present the text more clearly. White space conveys space, openness and confidence. In contrast, pages that are cramped with small fonts and dense blocks of text appear tight-fisted and miserly — as if the designer wouldn’t share his space with the reader.
  6. Remember that most visitors will read only one or two pages of your site—after that they gone. So, it’s critical that you catch their attention immediately and offer clean uncluttered text that will enjoy reading.

And…

Most readers are under pressure to find content quickly. Many are ‘watching the clock’ and have little patience with muddled material.

Just to recap.

Rather than pouring an entire 8 page report into one large HTML page, break it up into smaller, more digestible chunks. Use lots of headings, bullet lists and short sentences.

By preparing content that can be skimmed over, readers will appreciate your content and are more likely to return.

Download these templates to start

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan