Becoming #1 With a Bullet: Increasing Your Website's Readability
Lynn Whitley, June 5, 2013
When writing for your site, it's true that content is key and plays a very large part in increasing conversions and keeping people coming back to your site. However, there is a big difference between user-friendly content and… well, not-so-user-friendly content. Consider what draws your attention – would you rather read a list of key points with subheadings or lengthy paragraphs of copy? Personally, and I think it goes for most people, I tend to scan things before I read them and if I find something interesting, I go back and read the rest. A good thing to keep in mind is that if it looks like a research paper, chances are users are probably not reading it.
However, creating 'easy-to-read' copy is a lot easier said than done but because it's so important, it's vital to understand what it takes to create user-friendly content.
The Key "Points" of Readability
- Bullet points provide an easy way to break up text and draw the readers' eye to the most important points (see what I'm doing here?).
- Lists, again, are a great way to break up content to make your content appear more user-friendly. From numbers to bullet points, lists are the perfect way to wrap up your key thoughts without overloading the user with text.
- Bolded subheadings also aid in breaking up text and let the reader know what they're about to read. This makes it easy for the user to skip around the page to read only the parts the interest them.
- White space cannot be stressed enough – don't make your web pages look like research papers. You can use short paragraphs with white space in between to make it more readable and easier on the eyes.
- Mixed media is another way to break up text to make your site content more readable. From pictures to videos, give your reader something to look at that relates to your content.
It's About Design, Too
While content is a key component to a great site and has a strong influence on readability, there are certain web design aspects that also affect your website's readability. Aside from keeping content short, concise, and to the point, it's also important to ensure your website's design is effectively conveying this content. Things such as alignment, color contract, and font all play a part in making your site more user-friendly.
- Font is often the most overlooked aspect of web design but is also one of the most important. Always use legible font sizes and font types that are web-safe.
- Contrast is important when it comes to readability. Light grey text on a white background may look slick to you, but for someone else, it may be completely unreadable. Similarly, if you have a dark background you should probably make the text as light as possible. While contrast is important, color is also important in creating an attractive web design so don't be afraid to use it!
Alignment also plays an important part in readability. Not only does it look nice but scattered web components look unattractive to the eye, reducing site readability.
It's important to keep content simple and to the point, while making use out of lists, white space, and subheadings. The implementation of a good design has a huge effect on readability as well. While there is a large variety of things that affect your sites readability, content and design play a large part and oftentimes go hand-in-hand.