Reading on the Web
In general, Web readers read copy in an F- or E-shaped pattern. From useit.com:
The red portions are the most-read sections, followed by yellow and blue sections. The gray areas? Forget about it! This is the sidebar/banner ad space. (When was the last time you clicked on a banner ad?) We read in a horizontal pattern, and then move vertically scanning a Web page for relevant content.
Web site copy is written for people who skim. Now, I think blog visitors are used to reading longer pieces so there are always exceptions. People read our posts to make a connection or get information. Yet, from my own experience, I don’t read too far below the fold when reading copy on a screen. I scan. As for longer pieces, I print and read them when I have more time.
So, here are some basic tips to make your content more reader friendly:
- Put keywords and important themes in the first two paragraphs
- Use short sentences
- Write in active voice
- Use bullets and subheads
- Use keywords in your headers
- Use, but don’t overuse, bold and italics
- Add links to enhance your content
- Be authentic
- Minimize typos
These tips won’t work for all types of Web writing. I don’t think that all blog posts have to be short—not in the least. I tend to write my posts with breaks between thoughts (ex., see Confession Tuesday post) to give the eyes a rest. If I really want to expand on a topic, I do, using some of the items in the list above. Today’s readers want to visit your page, connect or get info, and move on.