10 ways to format content for the web. Follow these simple design tips to instantly get more people to read your content.
Your web content must be simple, short and scannable.
Use these 10 design tips to break big, uninterrupted blocks of text into bite-sized pieces that are inviting and easy to digest.
1. Write Short Articles
People spend about 46 seconds on a 600-word article. That’s reality.
You must fragment your content into nuggets that users can assimilate in a two-minute visit to your site.
Divide in-depth content into a series of posts.
2. Write in a Simple Manner
Write like you talk. (But then edit ruthlessly.)
There are millions of other web pages competing for your reader’s attention. If your writing is difficult to understand, the user will leave your site to find one that is easier to comprehend.
About 40% of web users have low literacy. And everyone prefers language that is direct, plain and concise.
The hallmark of a great stylist is the ability to take a difficult idea and express it as simply as possible. ~Bryan Garner.
3. State Your Conclusion First
Write a summary of your article at the top of your page and make assertions in the subheads.
Then support your assertions in the body of your content.
This structure is called the inverted pyramid and it helps scanners to move from point to point before they decide where they’d like to dive in deeper.
4. Use Subheads that Make Assertions
Subheads divide your content into digestible pieces.
People scan web pages in an F-shaped pattern. Your subheads will help them catch the sections they’re interested in.
Use subheads that make assertions — e.g., “Write Short Articles,” not “My Thoughts on Article Length.”
5. Use Short Paragraphs
Write paragraphs with no more than 3 or 4 sentences — anything longer is daunting and begs to be skipped.
Use short sentences, too.
A wall of text is deadly for an interactive experience. Intimidating. Boring. Painful to read. ~Jakob Nielsen.
6. Use Images and Image Captions
Images provide visual evidence for your assertions and they can help users learn up to 27% more:1
7. Highlight Important Words and Phrases
I usually bold important text. But you can also use:
And colored text boxes, etc.
8. Use Lists
Lists work because they make a specific promise to your reader. I’ve promised to give you 10 tips that will get more people to read your writing.
My list captured your attention and kept you reading.
Writing in bullet-point lists might also help you to be pithier.
9. Use Links and Footnotes
Use internal links back to your own content to keep people on your site and reading your best material.
Use external links to show that you’ve researched your topic and that you’ve acknowledged other experts.
Links and footnotes ((The footnotes plugin that I’m using is WP-Footnotes.)) shield users from overwhelming detail while providing more information to those who need it.
10. Use Headlines that Describe the Content and Emphasize the Benefits
This is the most important tip.
On average, only 2 out of 10 people will click on a headline. If they don’t click on your headline, they’ll never read your article.
Your headline must:
- Meaningfully describe the content. (People don’t click on links that they don’t understand.)
- Provide the benefits of reading the content.
Copyblogger has the best series on how to write magnetic headlines.
What methods do you use to engage people to read your content?