Keep 'Em Reading - Keep 'Em Buying

2003 Viki Nygaard

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The World Wide Web is probably the biggest technological advancement in the last 75 years. Every bit of information you could ever need is right at your fingertips. However, reading that information can get to be a bit hard on the eyes.

As a Web-surfer, you've probably noticed that it is hard to spend a lot of time reading Web pages directly from your computer screen. The more information there is on a Web page, the more apt you are to print it out and read it later rather then read it directly off the screen. You most likely tend to scan Web pages, reading only what you find interesting.

Now, as a Web site owner, let me ask you this. Are you overwhelming your visitors with too much text? Yes, I know, "copy sells". However, long text (whether sales copy, reports, articles or anything else) read from a lighted surface (like your computer monitor) is not as enjoyable because of the eyestrain. However, there are ways you can create an environment where reading is pleasurable.

Get Their Attention With A Catchy Headline

The first thing your visitor should notice is the headline on the page. Make sure your headline is bold and at least 2 point sizes larger then the rest of your copy. Most importantly, use a headline that will get your visitors attention and will interest them into reading more.

That said... don't stop there! Go on to include "subheads" throughout your copy. It has been proven time and time again that Web site visitors scan before they read. By including sub-headlines within your copy, you can help them quickly pick out exactly what interests them - keeping them at your site longer and increasing your chances of making a sale.

Break It Up

Break up your copy into easy to read paragraphs of about 3 sentences. Use subheads whenever possible. If you have an extreme amount of copy (long sales letter, extensive report, etc.) you may choose to triple space between paragraphs instead of double space. This will allow more "white space" to come through, thus making it easier on your reader's eyes.

Break things out even further by using bulleted or numbered lists. These types of lists are easily scanned so be sure to include important points or benefits within your list.

Lastly, vary your justification. Flush left is the easiest to read. However, an occasional sentence or paragraph that is centered can bring attention to a statement and give additional visual interest to your reader.

Make The Fonts Eye-Friendly

Use an easy to read font for the main copy of your Web site. Arial, Verdana or Helvetica are good fonts to use because they are "non-serif". This means they have no "feet", they appear straight up and down. Non-serif fonts are more easily viewed on a lighted surface. Serif fonts (like Times Roman) that have small "curves" or "feet" at the stopping points of the letters are more easily read in print.

Some other tips include:

  • Using a plain black font if possible. Colored text is very hard to read on a computer screen, as it strains the eyes.

  • Avoiding all capital letters as they are associated with shouting.

  • Using bold or italics only to emphasize important phrases.

  • Avoiding underlined text. Underlines are associated with hyperlinks and your visitors may be mislead if you underline text that is not a clickable link.

  • Creating graphics-free pages for information that your visitors would be interested in printing out.

Since information is what your visitors came to your site for, it only makes sense to place special emphasis on the text. The more enjoyable you can make your customer's stay, the longer they'll visit, the more likely they'll be to buy and the better the chance they'll come back.

Viki Nygaard is President of Mount Evans Designs specializing in professional Web design. For those businesses who insist on quality but must maintain a budget, visit today. You'll be thrilled with the exceptional designs and the affordable rates!