By Marie Allen
When you are writing a web page the first thing you need to know is that no-one will read it!
Yes, contrary to what you might think, people do not read web pages. They scan them. Nobody (well, hardly anybody!) reads a web page from start to finish. When a website visitor lands on a web page they will be scanning that page for whatever word or phrase they are looking for. And if they don’t find it quickly they will be off to look at the next website on their Google search results list.
Web pages tend to be viewed in an F-shaped pattern. The website visitor will read the top few lines and the beginning of the lines on the left hand side of the page in detail, down to about the middle of the page, just scanning the text on the right hand side of the page. As they get to the middle of the page their eye starts to move even more swiftly across the text, skimming over it quickly. They will take a cursory glance at the text towards the bottom of the page, maybe focusing on the beginning of one or two lines on the left hand side. Typically anything towards the bottom of the page, especially on the bottom right, will not be looked at.
Here’s the way people read websites according to eye-tracking studies:
© Nielsen Norman Group
The red areas are where visitors’ eyes spend most time
The yellow areas are where visitors’ eyes spend some time
The blue/grey areas are barely looked at
So if nobody reads a web page, how do you get your web page visitors to actually see the messages that your business wants to get across?
- Keep your sentences short and snappy. Don’t write long sentences, as you would in a printed letter or document. They just won’t get read. Cut out any waffle. Fewer words more impact.
- Use bullet points. Bullet points are easy on the eye and get your words noticed. Ideally have 3, 5 or 7 items as odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye than even numbers! More than 7 is too many
- Start your sentences and bullet points with your “WOW” words to grab attention. So that people scanning down the right hand-side of your web page pick them up e.g. don’t write “We provide the most technologically advanced safety goggles” start your sentence or bullet point with “Safety Goggles – we provide……….”
- Keep your key messages and those key words that your website visitors are looking for at the top of the page. Most of your website visitors will never get to read the text lower down the page
- Avoid large chunks of text with no breaks. Use headings and sub-headings to break up the page and keep your paragraphs short – just 2 or 3 sentences
- Last, but by no means least – if you want people to see your key business messages clearly, don’t make it difficult for them by using a tiny font. Put your text into a large, clear font such as Verdana or Arial and make it at least 11 point. None of the above will work for you if the font is too small to be easily legible!
So now I’ve revealed my Six Secrets of Successful Web Copy you have the power to turn the web pages that you write into a clear and easy to read marketing tool.
Follow these 6 rules and your web pages will grab the attention of your website visitors and convert them into loyal and happy customers. A clear website is an effective website.
Happy Web Writing!!
See my next post for some ideas on how you should organise your website information for maximum impact