How to Make Long Web Copy More Readable
Ideally, you want to keep your web copy as short and simple as possible. However, there are situations where long copy is necessary to give readers the information they need to make an informed buying decision. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to streamline long copy so that it’s more readable. Get stared by following these tips.
• Use a single column—Single-column layouts work best on the web as multiple columns force readers to scroll up and down, making it difficult to scan. More to the point, single-column websites achieve higher conversion rates by controlling the eye-path of readers.
• Avoid wide columns—The wider the column, the fewer the words that will be read. Remember, people tend to scan content online rather than read it word for word. This means the reader’s eyes tend to stay focused on the left side of the copy. By narrowing your column, you put more words in their eye path, allowing you to deliver your message more effectively.
• Stick to short paragraphs—If you’ve ever come across a big block of text online, you know just how unappealing and intimidating it is. Most people would rather click “back” than to suffer through reading a long block of thousands of words. To make the copy easier to digest, you need to break it up into short paragraphs containing about 3-4 sentences each. Always place the most important information at the beginning of the paragraph to ensure it gets read.
• Place descriptive subheads throughout—No matter how long your copy is, someone should be able to scan through it and know what it’s about in less than 30 seconds (ideally, in about 10 seconds). One way you can get your message across quickly is to use bolded, descriptive subheads throughout the copy. Make sure each subhead clearly explains what the section is about.
• Ensure copy flows in a logical manner—Long copy won’t feel long if it flows properly. To ensure a proper flow, create an outline before you begin writing so that you won’t end up going off on tangents that distract from your message. After writing your copy, read it aloud to be sure it makes sense.
• Make certain every word serves a purpose—After writing your copy, give it a day or two to breathe. Then, go back to it with a fresh set of editing eyes. During editing, eliminate unnecessary words that take up space, don’t add anything, and make the copy longer than it needs to be. If you have a hard time editing on your computer, print out the copy, and use a red pen to slash out the fluff.
• Have clear calls to action throughout—When you have copy that’s longer than normal, you don’t want to bury the call to action at the end because most readers won’t even make it that far. Instead, put calls to action throughout the copy. I recommend having one call to action in every screen view so that the reader always has a way to take action without scrolling. Keep the calls to action clear and short.
Do you have long copy on your website? What have you done to make it easier to read? Leave a comment with your best tips.