Writing for the web is a unique beast, not in the least because most web content is not read. Most people scan for the information they seek, search for keywords, and skim for relevant headings and lists. People read websites differently, so understanding how people view websites is essential when you are creating web content. Let’s explore Creating Website Content that Appeals to Both Scanners and Readers.
When you visit websites, mainly if you have found the website via a web search, you most likely do at least a few of the following:
- Read the bold text first
- Look at the images, graphs and photographs ahead of reading any text
- Check the headings and subheadings
- Scan through to find bulleted or numbered lists
- Read the introduction, then skip to the conclusion to find the key takeaways.
- Do a quick scan over it, then bookmark it for later
- Watch any videos embedded on the page
Web users generally leave web pages in the first 10-20 seconds, so your website doesn’t have long to grab your visitors’ attention. Your website design and content formatting must communicate your offering within that time frame.
So, if people are merely glancing at your website – how do you quickly and effectively get your message across while still providing enough substance for the few that will come to research and gather more in-depth information?
Visitors to your website typically only read 20% of your web content. When people visit your website, they are looking for a quick answer, the correct information or to make a fast decision. Writing with this in mind means you should make sure they can find what they’re looking for fast and can share it easily.
We know most people will skim web content, but we also know that the more visitors engage with web content, the more likely they are to convert. As a business, you must ensure your website is suitable for skimmers and readers. So how do you set about achieving that?
How to ensure your website is suitable for both skimmers and readers
- Keep your content simple
- Don’t forget to write for SEO
- Entice your visitors to engage
1. Keep your content simple
- Use short, descriptive headlines and subheadings
- Highlight, use bold or italics
- Make good use of whitespace
- Use bulleted or numbered lists
- Put important information at the beginning of your paragraphs
- Keep your text aligned left to improve readability
2. Don’t forget to write for SEO
- Answer questions you anticipate your potential customers will ask
- Discuss one keyword (or topic) per page
- Include relevant links to other pages and sites
- Use descriptive link text, not simple call-to-action text such as “click here” or “sign up”.
3. Entice your visitors to engage
- Include visual elements, such as relevant images or videos
- Readers love colour
- Use pull quotes when you can
- High-quality, functional, helpful and informative content provides your readers with substance.
- Avoid lengthy sales pitches.
should have mass appeal. The aim should be to speak to many visitors to your site and meet their requirements. Skimmable content helps your visitors to find what they are looking for, and skip over what doesn’t interest them.
Writing straightforward content that appeals to skimmers and readers is complex, and sometimes pleasing everyone is impossible. Writing different content for different audiences is okay, mainly if your website contains blogs. Sometimes people are after a quick answer, and other times require a more profound read. When tackling the more technical, two specifically targeted articles will most likely perform better than one article that tries to be all things to all people.
The key for writing for skimmers is found in the formatting: visually appealing content, set out in easy-to-absorb chunks, should draw interest and be easy to read at a glance. By adopting these accessible practices, you will find visitors to your website who begin by simply skimming and scanning are more likely to become readers.
If you want to learn more about how to improve the design of your website to grow your business, contact us.
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