Accept that people scan web pages, rather than reading them in detail, and work with this reality rather than fighting it.
If you want to cover a complex topic, consider breaking it into a series of posts. It’s a great way to keep people coming back for more, and your reader will find it easier to digest your content if they get it in portion-controlled sizes.
Structure your paragraphs in the inverted pyramid style. This means stating your conclusion first, then supporting it with the sentences that follow. This helps scanners move from point to point and decide where they’d like to dive in deeper.
Once you’ve done that, use the following easy design techniques to make your content much more reader-friendly.
It takes just a few minutes to turn a post from an overwhelming mass of gray text to something that engages the reader and pulls her in.
1. Embrace the line break
There are few easier ways to make your content more readable. Even complex content can be made much more reader-friendly with the simple introduction of lots of white space.
Feature one idea per paragraph, and keep them short — three or four sentences at most.
And try writing some paragraphs with one sentence only.
A strong headline (and therefore a strong premise) is vital to getting readers to check you out in the first place. And solid subheads keep readers engaged, acting as “mini headlines” to keep them moving through the rest of your content.
Make your subheads intriguing as well as informative. Web readers have well-honed BS meters, so don’t exaggerate or you’ll lose credibility. “Compelling” is not the same as “hypey.”
Once you’ve written your subheads, review them to see what readers/scanners will understand if they only read that part of your article. Is there a compelling story? Will they get the gist of your information?
Numbers are an incredibly effective way to both capture attention and keep the reader oriented.
If you don’t believe me, take a quick look at the “Popular Articles” on the right hand of this site. You’ll get a mini-tutorial in some of the ways you can use numbers (and other techniques) to make a post more inviting.
You can often make a post more compelling just by numbering your main points. Give it a try.
8. Check your formatting to turn scanners into readers
Once you’ve used subheads, numbers, bulleted lists, and other formatting to highlight the key elements of your post, read through it again — looking only at the text you’ve called special attention to.
Does the reader get the gist? Have you pulled out the most interesting and relevant words, the words that will pull your scanner in and turn her into a reader?
How about you? What are your favorite techniques for getting readers to lean in to your content? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
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