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Increasing the Readability of Your Website

Making Sure Your Site's Content is Comprehendible.
 
Paul Smithson - 11th December 2008
   
paul smithson 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 eyes.

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 technique.

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 written. 

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 the eye-flow.

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 wrong! 

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 businesses.


For more information about this, and many other Internet Marketing-related topics, visit Paul Smithson's site, www.xsitepro.com.

Source: http://www.xsitepro.com/increasing-the-readability-of-your-website.html


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