How much material do I put on the website?
How do I present the material?
How do I know that anyone reads it?
Recent research points out something quite interesting. It identified
that users dont read on the web, they tend to scan.
This means that when you are converting documents to the web, you need
to make them as scannable as possible.
Users prefer to scan webpages.
With this in mind, weve prepared some guidelines when writing for the Web:
- Reduce the word
count as much as possible without losing the articles 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.
- Keep one
idea per paragraph. This makes it easy to read and navigate. In the readers mind
theyll think, ¡ˇăthis paragraph is about this, while this other paragraph is about
that¡ˇŔ, and enjoy scanning the article. If you bury multiple ideas inside a
paragraph, theyll resent it and go elsewhere.
- Use bullet lists,
bold the important text and put in sub-headings to highlight the main points.
- 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!
- 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 wouldnt share his space with the
Remember that most visitors will read only one or two pages of your siteafter
that they gone. So, its critical that you catch their attention immediately
and offer clean uncluttered text that will enjoy reading.
Most readers are under pressure to find content quickly. Many are
watching the clock and have little patience with muddled material.
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.
Ivan Walsh at www.ivanwalsh.com
What do you think?
What are your thoughts on this? Drop me a line at ivan
at klariti dot com