Making Website Content Easy to Read
As an Internet marketer, you have several goals. Your top priority should be to get people to visit your site, which can be accomplished through a number of traffic-driving techniques. Once you have accomplished that, your next goals as an e-commerce exec are (1) to get visitors to stay on your web page long enough to (2) actually make the decision to purchase the product or service you are marketing. Some of the best ways to achieve the last two objectives are to offer your customers high-quality content that is valuable to them, and make that content easy to read.
It only makes sense that the amount of time a potential customer spends on your website is directly proportional to the amount of money they may spend there. If you turn people away within the first few minutes because your site is cluttered and unattractive, your chances of making a profit diminish drastically. Therefore, you need to concentrate on making your online store user-friendly in all of its aspects. When it comes to offering easy-to-read content that can encourage your customers to browse your site thoroughly, there are a few rules you should consider.
Â· Don't make lines of text too long. Think for a minute about newspapers and other print publications. They are almost always printed in columns because short lines of text are easier to read than long lines. While it is true that reading on a computer screen is different than reading a hard copy, the fact remains that readers can get lost trying to follow a very long line of print. As a general rule, you should try to stay within a maximum length of 600 pixels for each line. Of course, your users will have all different sizes of monitors that they are reading on, but this guideline will probably work best on the majority of screens.
Â· Make text easy for a reader to skim. Since many web users are looking for specific information, make it easy for them to locate pertinent content quickly. Use short paragraphs, lots of subheadings, and bullet points to separate main ideas. A reader who finds what he or she is looking for right away on your site is much more likely to come back for more information later, and that is a good thing.
Â· Use a simple background and contrasting colors for text. There is almost never a good reason for using a background design or image in a text box. While you may think it looks cool to have a graphic of green plants behind the information you offer on your gardening site, chances are very great that your visitors will find it highly annoying. It is much harder to read something when the background is not a solid color. (More info on Color Schemes is here.)
By the same token, you need to be sure that the colors you use for your text and background have a high level of contrast. Don't use two dark colors or two light colors together.
Â· Use font size and line spacing carefully to improve readability. Text that is crowded together is very difficult to read. The same is true of text that is too small. You never want to make visitors to your site squint in order to see what you have written. Chances are they will give up and surf away from your page. Arial font in about 12 or 13px or Verdana in 11 or 12px are good choices for basic, reader-friendly text. You will want to increase the "leading" in your text boxes rather than using the default setting to put some space between lines.
Â· Don't overuse exclamation points or ALL CAPS. While it is true that you can make some important information easy to see by using capital letters or exclamation points, if you use those features too often, they are likely to backfire. Think about the times you have looked at a sales page and found it littered with exclamation marks. Didn't you get the idea that the marketer was desperate for sales, or a scammer, or both? When you are the seller, remember how that felt and limit yourself. There is never a justification for using more than one exclamation point at a time!
In the world of the Internet, large sections of text that are written in ALL CAPS ARE EQUIVALENT TO BEING SCREAMED AT. Why would a visitor to your site want to stay there if you are yelling the whole time? If you really want to emphasize a few words, it's ok to capitalize them, but you might also want to consider putting them in italics or bold which do not give the impression that you are raising your voice.
Â· Check your spelling. In a world where so many folks use text-messaging shortcuts for day-to-day communications, it's easy to assume that your audience does not care about things like proper grammar or spelling. That's a bad mistake to make, however. If you want to present yourself as an authority on your product or service, you need to be sure your entire website has a professional look and feel. Customers are much more likely to believe your sales materials and try your product if you come across as someone who pays attention to details and is knowledgeable in all areas. So, proofread your articles, or better yet, get someone else to do it for you. It's much easier to catch an error in something you have not written yourself. And be sure to use your spell-checker.
If you keep the goal of reader-friendliness in mind when placing text on your website, you have a better chance of keeping visitors there for a while. Don't give in to the temptation to use all kinds of bells and whistles that may be fun to design, and might show folks how "cool" you are. Instead, concentrate on providing valuable information presented in a way that is a pleasure to read. (Read more about Animation and Special Effects here.)
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