How to Create Effortlessly Readable Web Copy
Writing for the web is very different from writing for print. Most online readers do not actually read text on the internet; instead, they scan the text to pick out valuable bits. That’s why creating scannable content on your website is crucial to getting your message across. Inspired by Eddie Shleyner’s HubSpot post, here are some tips for creating effortlessly readable web copy.
According to a study by Jakob Nielsen, the guru of webpage usability, combining these three best practices will help make your content easier to digest:
- Concise: get your point across quickly
- Scannable: make it easy to read and save users time
- Objective: keep it non-promotional and use facts
Tips for Writing Effective Web Copy
Scannable content is designed with your reader in mind – it should be short and to the point. There is no set formula for writing scannable content; however there are a number of tips that will help you when writing effective web copy:
Value of Creating Scannable Content
To grasp the value of the above tips, let’s take a look at a before-and-after example from Nielsen’s study.
Here’s a control paragraph that Nielsen used in his experiment: “Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).”
And here’s a new version that resulted in an astounding 124% improvement in usability: “In 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were:
- Fort Robinson State Park
- Scotts Bluff National Monument
- Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum
- Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer
- Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park”
What this means for your website is that scannable content could result in better reader engagement and a higher chance of conversions.
Testing Your Scannable Content
Using these elements can improve your content but it is important to test just how scannable your content is. There are a number of tools online that you can use to test your document’s readability and scannability. You can find some readability services online for free (such as Readability Score), and many others for a small fee. If you own Microsoft Word, you can use the program’s built-in readability feature to analyze your content.
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