How to Easily Boost the Readability of Your Web Pages
Imagine you’re standing in front of a giant wall. A wall as big as The Wall in Game of Thrones.
And you have to climb that wall to reach the knowledge you’re seeking.
You’d look at it and think “ugh, that’s bloody hard work”. And you don’t want to work that hard for the little morsel of wisdom you’re after.
That’s what it’s like when your website pages that are basically just walls of text. A reader clicks on the page, sees the wall of text, thinks “nup, too hard”, and closes the page. It’s like a wall of NO WAY!
So what can you do to overcome this imposing wall? Formatting, my friend.
FORMATTING WEBSITE PAGES FOR SCANNERS AND SKIMMERS
I’m sure it’s no surprise to read this, but people scan and skim when reading online. We read in a markedly different manner online to the way we read offline.
When reading online, we’re almost always trying to find answers to something. Your reader is scanning to quickly assess if your web page or blog post has the answers they seek.
So you want to make it as easy as possible for them to read.
But how do you do that?
WEB PAGE FORMATTING TIPS
Have a big, attention-grabbing headline
There’s no point making the rest of your page visually enticing to read if your headline doesn’t do its job. Make your reader click on the web page or blog post with a compelling headline.
Not only do subheads break up your post into manageable bite-sized chunks. But they help readers to quickly scan your page or post to see if it’s likely to answer the questions they have.
Call attention to important words, phrases, and sentences
Keep sentences short
Aim for under 20 words.
Stick to short paragraphs
Keep it to 3-4 sentences.
Try one-word sentences and one-sentence paragraphs
Give your readers a break (with whitespace)
You want to give plenty of whitespace to rest the eye. And white space helps give that first impression that your post looks easy to read.
Break up text
Use hyphens, parentheses, semicolons, colons, and dashes.
Use a font size of around 16px
This translates to about size 12 printed font. Check how your font looks because each one does appear slightly differently.
Break it up with images
Rule of thumb is an image every 300 words.
Mix it up with a photo, a graphic, or a ‘click to tweet’ box. Anything to visually break up all that text on the page.
FORMATTING – YOUR WEBSITE’S BEST FRIEND
Now imagine you’ve put in place all the above formatting on each page of your website and all your blog posts.
You’ve transformed your walls of text (aka the wall of NO WAY) into something that’s inviting and easy to read.
You’ve installed navigable signposts along the way – so your reader can quickly scan the page to see if it has the answers she needs or skip to the bits that appeal to her.
If you were staring up at The Wall from GoT, you’d see carved handholds and pulleys and all sorts of helpful items to make your climb to the top easier.