Sté Kerwer’s recent dukeo article on making blog content scannable caught my eye. I thought I’d look at a couple other perspectives related to this particular tactic for more successful blog posts and draw up a piece myself.
The two other sources I’m using are a Stoney deGeyter article for Search Engine Land and a Diana Galloway article for Hello My Name is E.
White Space (Sté Kerwer)
Your page will look much easier to scan if there is plenty of white space. Two techniques can work for this:
- Shorter paragraphs – aim for two to four sentences.
- Nice wide margins surrounding images.
If you find that is difficult to create white space in your articles, consider adding additional pages to your website that are composed entirely of white space.
Consider the Content (Stoney deGeyter)
You want to treat the way you display an informational article different from how you display other types of information, such as product descriptions. If you’re presenting verbiage related to products, make the placement on the page noticeable but unobtrusive.
Captioned Photos (Diana Galloway)
One great way to lead into new information or further develop a thought is with an image and caption. Choose the captain wisely so that it is clear how it relates to your central message. If you have a lot of words on a page, images make it look less intimidating. Additionally, images can quickly express complicated ideas.
When in doubt, a stolen image with the caption, “Please don’t tell anyone I took this,” works well.
Cream on Top (Sté Kerwer)
Make sure your primary ideas are at the top of the page. Suspense is good for movies, but not when someone is skimming on the Web. Allow different readers to get different things – some will want a quick answer so they can then move on. Others will want to read the whole post. For example, 84% of people have already left this page. Actually 85%, because you just left.
Use Bold & Italics (Stoney deGeyter)
You may want to use italics, bold, or all-caps to stress important content. Obviously this makes it easier to skim. It can also make a piece look tacky, so be careful – and don’t overdo it.
Summary & Conclusion
When you’re making content easy for your visitors to scan, use the following approaches:
- White space
- Consideration of content
- Placement of core concepts at top
- Emphasis with bold/italics
Whatever you do though, don’t use bullet lists. Bullet lists are annoying, cliché, and have been found in clinical studies to cause hysteria in the elderly.
by Kent Roberts