From our last article in the Website Design 101 Series, you will appreciate that your website must have interesting content with sensible use of pre-defined keywords. But how much content do you need? Pages and pages of text, or just a few snazzy photos with captions? You need to consider your visitors – reading online is less comfortable than cuddling up on the sofa with a book or a newspaper – it’s harder on the eyes.
The type of website that appeals to a person depends in part on where they lie on the ‘reading style spectrum’ – from those who like to read every word, to those who prefer the pretty pictures. Consider that visitors to your website will fall into the three categories below, and everything in between:
The Scholar – a.k.a the pedant. These types of people love to read every single word on a website. They positively bask in seeing if your content makes sense and if you have made any mistakes. These are the kind of folks who enjoy completing forms and questionnaires, but always read every word of the small print. They won’t be happy if they can’t find all the details they want in your website content.
The Speed Reader. Yes, the Speed Readers give the text a once over. They’ll read the first part of a paragraph but if it’s not of interest, they will merrily skip on to the next section. This kind of person reads the newspaper in 15 minutes.
The Simpler-the-Better. These folks really can’t be bothered to read anything. A book? Ha ha! No, more of a comic book person. If there’s masses of text on your website it will be as useful to them as Chinese – they won’t even bother to start to read it. They’re looking for visual information to tell them what they need to know.
So if people range from the Scholar to the Simpler-the-Better, what on earth are you going to put on your website? The sensible option is to go for the middle of the reading style spectrum and throw in enough other elements to satisfy the Scholar and the Simpler-the-Better. The overall objective is to make things easy on the eye, so follow these simple tips:
- Break text into nice small paragraphs.
- Use bullet points when appropriate.
- Highlight important words – put them at the beginning of the paragraph and make them a larger font or different color so they easily stand out. Great news for the Speed Reader.
- Incorporate lots of images to keep the Simpler-the-Better very happy. Even the Scholar will appreciate them if they are supported by good, informative text.
- Make the click through buttons brightly colored and prominently placed. Use them in preference to underlined words or your Simpler-the-Better might sail right by them.
- Use simple symbols to describe a product’s features which are great for the Simpler-the-Better, followed by a detailed technical section perfect for the Scholar.
- Consider putting the fine details on separate pages – then the Scholar can click through to read more, and the Speed Reader and Simpler-the-Better don’t have to if they don’t want.
It’s not feasible or sensible to try to create a website to satisfy one particular group of reader. So by following some of the simple ideas above, you should be able to capture the attention of everyone who visits your website, regardless of their reading style.