The vast majority of content writing focuses on SEO with the goal to increase site clicks and drive website traffic. However, there is still a reader making those clicks who, typically, has a short attention span. The writing needs to engage the reader quickly to draw them in while staying easy to understand in order to keep them reading. And let’s not forget the pages must be visually appealing. If the content is too complicated and the reader cannot understand what is being presented, they will just move on. Likewise, if it is not aesthetically pleasing to the eye – and I know everyone has seen those sites – the reader is more likely to move on and not return. Here are tips on how to make the content more reader-friendly.
Strong headlines, headings, and subheadings
A great headline will quickly grab a reader’s attention and draw them into looking at the content. To keep the flow of the page appealing, break up the copy into sections with subheadings placed every 2-3 paragraphs. Well-placed subheadings make the content more scannable for readers with short attention spans because, realistically, most people just scan online content instead of taking time to read the entire text.
Web page layout
How content is organized on the page affects readability. The use of color and the location of graphics will make the page more visually appealing. You want to provide clear visual elements to guide the reader’s eye. This technique is called visual hierarchy, which helps the reader focus their attention. The use of white space and line spacing is an example of visual hierarchy. Don’t look at these blank areas as useless empty spaces on the page. You are supplying a place for the reader to have both a visual and mental rest from clutter. This rest reduces the cognitive load on the reader and allows them to more easily process the content.
You snagged your reader with a catchy headline. You’ve engaged them with the appealing visuals of the page. Now, you must ensure your information is easy to understand by improving reading comprehension. There are six keys to this:
Avoid jargon. Jargon is a technical term used within a specific industry. An example is the medical term myocardial infarction. The layperson would call this a heart attack. Avoid jargon by using language a layperson can understand.
Transition words and phrases. These keywords connect sections of text to each other. An example is using first, next, last to guide the reader through a sequence of ideas.
Highlighting important elements. Clue your reader into key pieces of information. This is done using hyperlinks, bolded text, and quotes sprinkled throughout the text.
Sentence length. Shorter sentences are easier to read. They also keep the writer from confusing the reader by putting too many ideas in one sentence.
Bullets and numbered lists. The use of these helps with keeping the content scannable and organized.
Mobile friendly design
The last thing to consider for your reader is how the reader is reading your content. With the cell phone as the go-to, in-your-pocket computer, you must remember how the content will look on a little screen. Is the font too small? Are the paragraphs too long? Find a way to edit the content for the mobile format.