When a visitor lands on your website, not all of them will want to read an entire page. Most likely, they’re looking for just one or two paragraphs that speak directly to their need. We find that a lot of users scan a webpage to determine whether it’s worth reading, or simply to find the piece of information they’re looking for.
Of course, I believe in creating carefully crafted content. But that’s not enough to optimize readibility. I have strong beliefs on how information is best digested, and below are some secrets that have served me well.
Both readers and search engines love lists. You often see rich snippets of lists appear in the top positions on search engines. Lists can be numbered or bulleted. Numbered lists help readers to quickly grasp the content you’re presenting in terms of “best to worst” or “first to last.” Bulleted content enables the reader to see a concise summary, with the option to read on further for more details. Here’s an example:
Most important readability features:
- Large fonts
- Adequate spacing
Graphs and Charts
Create a bar or line graph, or a pie chart, to highlight the most critical statistics provided in your content. Graphs and charts are essential when comparing things conceptually, or through time frames. Use color to make them stand out. Also, be sure to claim yourself as the source so that when other websites use it, you get a valuable backlink.
Breaking down your content into a table helps readers understand complex information with just a glance. Tables are tricky on mobile devices, though, so you might need to adapt them. You can either include fewer columns (four or fewer) so the full table displays in responsive mode, or choose horizontal scrolling of the table content.
If you regularly check Google Analytics or another website reporting service, you’ve no doubt witnessed that more and more people visiting your website are doing so from a mobile device. As of last year, we are actually getting more traffic from mobile phones than from desktop computers. Yet many websites still have serious flaws when displayed on mobile.
A responsive website will detect the screen size it’s viewed on, and adjust the styling of the page accordingly. This ensures that the majority of your website will look good on mobile devices without having to make any adjustments.
Example of a mobile-friendly and a not-mobile-friendly website:
Without proper sections, information can get buried, and you will lose visitors before they read more than two lines of content.
When you’re building a page or blog post that offers a large amount of information about a certain topic, you’ll want to divide that information up using headers, spacing, and sections that ensure that your webpage is easy to scan.
Headers have been an on-page ranking factor in organic search results from the beginning. They help both search engine crawlers and readers better understand your content.
The proper use of headers will make a webpage with any amount of content more digestible and easier to read. If you don’t use headers, or don’t use them correctly, you’ll experience higher bounce rates (when users exit your page shortly after arriving, with little or no interaction).
Avoid content that reads like a medical journal. Ideally, you want to go for content sections that look similar to those in gossip magazines.
Bonus secret: Put in the time
When creating web content, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Invest the extra time to ensure that your content is both readable and broken up into sections. Great content answers questions and educates the reader, quickly. If you are having trouble breaking down content into digestible pieces, keep trying. Great content takes time to create but lasts forever.