Improve Readability to Make Your Site Easier to Understand

Think about the last time you visited a website. What was the first thing that you did? You likely scrolled down the page to see how long it was, and decided whether you wanted to read every word or quickly skim it to get the general message.

Most people take the same approach. Econsultancy claims that only 20 percent of your page will be read by a typical site visitor. Due to decreasing attention spans, anyone who starts a website today needs to learn how to improve readability. If you’re not sure what that is or how to achieve it, here’s a primer.

What is readability?

The readability of a site is how well viewers can understand the content of a web page. Several factors affect readability, including the actual text on the page and how it’s presented.

Voice, tone, and the language you use all affect readability, but so does page design and content layout. Even great content will be lost on readers if it’s presented poorly. On the other hand, poorly written content presented beautifully doesn’t improve readability, either.

How to improve readability

Article structure, formatting, and length are all important when it comes to readability. Here are some general things to keep in mind.

Shorter is better

Writing a master’s thesis on your blog is an easy way to deter readers. Stick to your point and get to it quickly. Aim for a few sentences per paragraph and use bold headlines, lists, or bullet points to break up text so that everything is easily scannable.

Clear communication is a must

Understanding your audience is key when it comes to readability. Everyone reads at different levels, so you want to ensure that your text is consumable to the largest number of people. Many marketers and professional communicators use the Flesch Reading Ease formula which evaluates sentence and word length to gauge how easily a reader will understand a piece of content.

Lower scores suggest that your readers will need to have a college-level education to understand what you’re trying to communicate, while higher scores indicate that a middle school education is all someone would need. You don’t necessarily have to calculate this formula every time you write something, but do take a few extra minutes to read what you’ve written. Ask yourself whether it’s conversational and clear enough for the average person to understand without pausing to look up certain terms.

Add white space and use the appropriate fonts

No one likes to see huge blocks of text on a website. Separate paragraphs by adding a few spaces in between them. White space is visually appealing because it gives the reader a momentary break between ideas.

Also, be consistent with the fonts that you choose and make sure they aren’t too decorative. Scripted font may look cool, but it isn’t easy to read. Generally, one or two fonts is enough to help convey your message without distracting readers.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Words aren’t the only way to communicate your ideas. Images can also make your website more readable. If you have a photography or design site, imagery is a natural way to showcase what you do. Images can also complement your written content, so use them to keep readers on your page longer.

Getting readability right

Aim for clarity and scannability on your website. Keep things short and format each page with headers, subheaders, lists, bullet points, and images when possible. Also, pay attention to the words that you use. Write in the way most people speak: conversationally. You’re writing for an audience; the goal should be to engage people and keep them coming back for more visits. Ultimately, boosting your website’s readability will help you attract more readers who might eventually turn into loyal customers.

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Satta Sarmah Hightower

Satta Sarmah is a writer, editor and content marketing manager who launched her first personal website a decade ago — on WordPress, of course.

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