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10 Ways to Improve Web site Readability

November 9, 2009

Most SEO experts will tell you that “Content is King.” And it’s true… Both search engines and people visit Web sites for the content. Unlike a search engine, however, users are looking for content to help them solve a problem or complete a task.

When you provide your visitors with the information they need, in a format they can easily digest, you’ll discover your conversion rate improves, along with your bottom line.

Unfortunately, people don’t really read on the Web – they skim. And if your content does not convince them to take the next step – whether it’s to buy an item, download a file, or click through to the next page – within a few seconds, they’ll quickly move on to one of your competitors.

Help your users (and your site’s performance) by feeding them the information they need, in a format they can easily digest. In other words, make it as READABLE as possible.

10 Tips for Improving Web site Readability

  1. Understand your audience – The style and tone of your content should be appropriate. For example, the copy targeted to group of highly-educated doctors or scientists should be much different than that developed for a Pro sports Web site.
  2. Consider the purpose – Every page of your Web site should have a purpose. This needs to be considered as copy is developed.
  3. Write descriptive headings – Make it easy for users to find what they need by providing accurate, descriptive headings.
  4. Avoid “word clutter” – Be concise. Don’t use two words, when one will suffice.
  5. Keep paragraphs short – Long blocks of copy intimidate users. Keep blocks of text short – about 2 to 3 sentences.
  6. Use lists – Aid comprehension by presenting information in a numbered or bulleted list.
  7. Separate thoughts – This helps users find the information they need quickly. Limit the copy to one theme per page, and one thought per paragraph/section.
  8. Leverage illustrations – Used wisely, images can convey your message quickly. Support your copy with visuals – just don’t overdo it, or oyu will create a distraction.
  9. Utilize white space – Organize your page layout. Does it look neat and clean? Keep your design simple, and your copy will be easier to digest
  10. Check your facts – Readers want up-to-date, reliable and accurate information, If your information is bad, it won’t natter how easy it is to read!

For more tips on how to improve the readability of your Web site, check out Letting Go of Words by Janice Redish.

* Image Source: Letting Go of Words – Janice Redish