Increasing the Readability of Your Website
Making Sure Your Site's Content is Comprehendible.
Paul Smithson - 11th December 2008
If you want to capture attention and keep it, your website needs to be well-written, provide
good content with few errors, and should be delivered in a font that is easy to read and at a size that is
comfortable for the majority of people to read.
So, what can you do to make your pages more readable?
One of the most important things you can do to increase the readability of your website is to
break text into smaller paragraphs, because reading large blocks of text can be hard on the
Writing copy for web sites isn’t the same as writing copy for a school essay, so feel free to
rid yourself of those constraints that you were taught in school. It’s better to have web pages that are actually
read than to have pages that are grammatically and stylistically correct as far as ‘proper’ English is concerned
(or whatever language you might be writing in).
Breaking the text on the page into smaller paragraphs can really help make the page easier on
the eye and in so doing make it easier to read. Sometimes paragraphs do need to be fairly lengthy, but you
can compensate for the odd lengthy paragraph by including other, extra short paragraphs or by splitting what could
have been a long paragraph into a list of bullet points.
In addition to using shorter paragraphs you should also closely examine your writing
The copy on your site should always be well-written. This should go without saying, but
it’s not unusual to see content sites and even sales letters that are very poorly
They’re full of spelling and grammatical errors, and sometimes they sound like they were
written by someone who doesn’t speak the language very well. It’s not a criminal offense to have mistakes on
your pages, but you should be careful to keep them to a minimum. If you have too many mistakes it will not
only be difficult to read, your visitors will lose confidence in you.
You can also make text easier to read by varying the font. You can change the size,
change the font type, use bold and italics, and change the colors. Don’t get outrageous with changes, because
you could end up making the text harder to read, but using font changes to emphasize certain points can really help
Many people like to justify their text. While it does make the text look more organized
and professional, many people say it makes the text harder to read. Justified text can tend to blur together
to some readers, and they may find it hard to keep reading. Centered text is also often difficult to
read. Save centering for headlines, and keep your main text in paragraphs that are left justified, and you
can’t go far wrong.
Finally, you need to make sure your text is actually interesting to read. You may think
this doesn’t apply to you if you’re writing about complex technical stuff, or if you’re writing about something
very serious like a medical condition. If this is true, you couldn’t be more
Do you remember reading your textbooks in school? Most textbooks are kept very serious
and professional, because they’re supposed to be educational. Some people seem to think that things that are
educational shouldn’t be fun to read, but you can make practically anything fun to read and it will be much more
readable if you go down that route.
Use anecdotes in your writing. People love stories, and if you can find interesting
stories that relate to the context of your writing, it will really help keep their attention. Tell jokes if
you can think of some that are related and that it is appropriate for the subject matter. You can also add quotes
from famous people when applicable. Anything you can do to keep the text interesting and fun to read will
hold your readers’ attention and keep them reading.
Finally, consider getting hold of a style checker. There are lots available, but my favorite
has got to be “Editor”. It’s definitely not the most elegantly written piece of software (far from it), but for
thoroughness it’s hard to beat. It checks everything from incorrect word usage through to clichés, Americanisms or
Britishisms, and lots more besides.
About Paul Smithson - Paul Smithson is the founder of Intellimon and the
driving force behind the best-selling XSitePro web site development tool. Since graduating in Business Strategy and
Direct Marketing from two of Europe’s leading business schools, Paul has set up five multi-million dollar
companies, one of which is now owned by the BBC. His areas of expertise include business strategy, e-commerce,
on-line and off-line marketing, software development, and maximizing the potential of on-line
For more information about this, and many other Internet Marketing-related topics,
visit Paul Smithson's site, www.xsitepro.com.
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