How many times have you gone to a website, looked at the content and thought, “Can’t be bothered to read that”? It could have been too long, too dark and heavy, badly placed, badly spaced. And chances are, when you can’t be bothered to read a web page, you’re not the only one to think the same.
Let me start by saying that people read differently on the web than they do if they were reading a book. Not only do people tend to spend a lot of time staring at their computer screen as part of their day job, but the actual action of reading from a computer screen puts extra strain on your eyes. So if you can make your content easy to read, you’re half way there!
Plus if it’s easy to read, you’re more likely to have more readers. Bottom line is:
more readers = more leads = more money
When it comes to content on your web pages, it might look pretty, but it’s got to be easy to read. So here are a few tweaks that you can make to your web content right now.
There’s a tendency to centre align everything. It’s an simple way to design a balanced looking page – no need for images or content to the left or right, just slap it evenly down the middle.
It might look nicer (I said might), but it’s not easy to read. When we’re reading our eyes like to be able to predict where to jump back and forth to. And if the position on the page of the first word changes from line to line, you’re just putting more stress on often already tired and frazzled eyes.
And don’t be tempted to ‘justify’ copy either. It tugs and pulls at the spacing between words, again making your eyes work harder to spot the position of the words.
It’s simple, unless you have a VERY good reason, always align it to the left.
Simple. Too small and you have to strain to read it. Too big and you feel like you’re reading something from the Early Learning Centre.
A good size is 16 pixels. But it’s your call – strike a balance between design and function.
Design and branding plays a very important role in the font type that you use. It has to be in-keeping with the visual element of your website.
Pick a font type that is simple to read – nicely formed, easy to skim and scan. Avoid things that look like handwriting or have characters that aren’t very clear.
Widely used fonts that are easy to read are the likes of Comic Sans or Verdana. But opinion is divided. Huffington Post have an interesting article on the best and worst font styles.
You could always test it and ask a few people after.
Try to write no more than 25 words per sentence – 30 words if you must. And where possible, even less than 25.
When you’re writing your own stuff it can feel a bit forced and awkward at first. Often it feels too simple – childish almost. But the truth is that longer sentences are not as easy to read and carry too many messages per sentence.
You have to remember that the way we read online is very different to sitting and reading a novel or a newspaper. So you have to write differently too. The quicker and easier you get your message across, the better.
Plenty of space
Space is hugely important.
If your pages are too busy and crammed full of information – words, photos, buttons, videos, logos – you’re only making it harder for the brain to selectively attend to the best bits of information.
Have a bit of a clean-out of the information on your pages that doesn’t need to be there, or could be elsewhere.
Readers rarely read word for word – especially online. They like to glance across the pages, skimming and scanning for the good bits.
So you can help them out by highlighting the odd word here and there (not SEO words I might add!). Do it sparingly, though. You’re trying to pick out key bits of info to guide the reader along their textual journey and make it easy to read, not bombard them with information.
The greater the number of syllables in a word, the longer it takes and the harder it is to read. It requires more effort to take in the information.
So very simply, try not to go over 3 syllables in any of your words. Ideally no more than 2.
Make a few tweaks to your website before you turn away more visitors. Make sure your website isn’t the one that nobody can be bothered to read.
If you’ve found this article useful, or you know someone who needs to make their content easy to read, please share. Thanks.