5 Steps Toward Creating Winning, Readable Content

Kristin Lesko - February 19, 2014

Have you ever wondered how much of your web content actually gets read? Well, according to research by the Nielsen Norman Group, users typically read just 28 percent of the words on any given webpage. That means some of you may have already stopped to make a sandwich, answer a phone call, or tweet about this post (go ahead, we’ll wait). But for the rest of you who smartly stayed, you won’t be disappointed. Here are five easy ways to get your content read.

5. Establish a sense of hierarchy. Studies show that users, generally, pay the most attention to the information at the top of a webpage. As such, your content should always feature a clear headline, that’s visible without scrolling. Underneath that headline, the user should immediately be able to read your body copy, which should feature subheadings (when necessary) to break up the copy. That way, if users don’t have time to read the full text, they can use the subheadings to skim for key points, or jump to the section that matters most to them.

4. Highlight key points by bolding or italicizing them. If your content features long blocks of running text, the reader may decide that sifting through it is more trouble than it’s worth. Bring important text to the surface through intentional formatting. Consider putting it in bold, italics or incorporating it into a design element (like a pull quote).

3. Use numbered lists and incorporate numbers into your headlines. Lists have become one of the best ways to package web content. “Six Ways To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse.” “Five Reasons Why Cats Think They’re Better Than Us.” “Five Things From the 90s You’ll Never See Again.” Articles written as numbered lists promise two things: 1) Organization and 2) A quick read.

2. Establish a clean design layout. What does your page’s web design have to do with the text your audience reads on the page? Everything. If the design is cluttered, with contrasting fonts and color schemes, the user doesn’t know where to look first. And, more than likely, they’ll just opt to look elsewhere.

1. Write something worth reading. It seems so simple doesn’t it? But “content marketing” isn’t simply producing content for content’s sake. It’s about writing something that your audience deems to be valuable. So follow Twitter hashtags, LinkedIn Group discussions, industry forums, or social media posts made by industry influencers. Find out what people are talking about and participate in the conversation through your content. Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

The choice is yours.

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