Why are some web pages so much easier to read than others?
Ever noticed how some webpages are easy to read at a glance, where others just… aren’t? Gorgeously creative, decorative websites may provide a visual feast for your visitors – and they may reflect your brand and personality perfectly. But if they’re too hard to read, they probably don’t get your message across effectively.
Here are three signs your web page isn’t as effective as you’d like it to be:
1. People click on the contact link to ask you questions that you know
you’ve already answered on the page
2. People you know are perfect for the offering on your sales page just
don’t see why it’s relevant to them
3. Google analytics tells you people are coming to your page – but
they always click away after 10-20 seconds
Why is a skim-readable website a more effective website?
To understand what makes a page readable, you need to understand how a new visitor reads a webpage. And the short answer is “they don’t.”
Instead they scan it, skim-reading in a specific pattern and searching for information that’s directly relevant for them. And if they don’t find it within 10-20 seconds, they give up. Just like that. You lose them, and they never get the benefit of all the time, love and attention you put into that page for them.
Of course, if they scan down your page and find what they’re looking for, then they’re willing to put more time and effort drilling down into the details of your message.
Readability is about much more than your colors and fonts.
There are three key areas that influence how easy your page is to skim-read:
- Your page structure: Easy-to-skim pages are structured so that the most important information comes first, and everything follows on logically from there. They keep like information together with like, and let your reader know what’s coming in advance, so she can process it easily once she reaches it.
- Your formatting: Easy-to-skim pages clearly identify the most important information and help readers to subconsciously navigate it. They make good use of headings, subheadings, white space and bulleted lists – and use bold, capitals and italics sparingly (but effectively) for highlighting
- Your language: Easy-to-skim pages use conversational, natural language with shorter, simpler sentences that take less work for readers to process. Long, convoluted sentences and paragraphs, industry jargon, formal phrases and passive voice create impenetrable writing that readers often just give up on.
Sometimes, making your web page skimmable requires compromise.
You don’t have to totally squash your own style to make your web page readable. But you do need to realise that the harder you make your reader work, the less likely they are to stick around.
Remember: You have 10-20 seconds to convince your ideal clients they’re in the right place. Make sure those seconds count!
Tanja Gardner is a professional copywriter, word weaver, and story sculptor at Crystal Clarity Copywriting Ltd. She helps difference-makers like you write with concise, creative clarity that your readers intuitively “get.” That means they understand EXACTLY what you offer – so you can make more of a difference in their lives. To discover 12 tips to writing a scannable web page that people actually read, sign up for the "Make Your Web Page Crystal Clear" guide. It’s completely FREE when you sign up for her short-‘n’-sweet weekly writing tips.
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Marketing, Mindset & Manifesting Coach