How do you consume content these days? Do you often take the time to sit at your computer and go through your favourite blogs and websites? Or are you more likely to be found flipping through the latest posts on your phone during your lunch break?
Personally, I’m the latter, and I think it’s the same for a lot of people. We now have so much content at our fingertips wherever we go, that there is no end of things vying for our attention. Add into that our shorter-than-ever attention spans, and it seems like an impossible task just to get eyes on your own blog content, let alone keep them on it for the duration of your post.
The fact is, you really don’t have long to hook your potential readers, and those readers are looking for any reason to click that back button and move on to something else. So how do you keep eyes locked on your blog content?
The simplest way is good readability, as nothing will send your potential readers running to the hills faster than hard-to-read content. If you’re just flicking through articles on your phone during a spare moment, you don't want to be challenged: you want something quick and easy to read. So if your content doesn’t read smoothly and seamlessly, there’s plenty of other posts out there that will.
So here’s how to stop your readers jumping ship, and keep your content easy to read:
- Structure your posts.
Humans have a subconscious attraction to patterns, and so structure is one simple way to make your posts easier to read and more appealing. A clear introduction, several well-explained points and a neat conclusion should suffice, and keep your readers with you until the last word.
Think of structure as signposts leading your readers through your post: it has to be clear, or you risk your readers wandering off the path.
- Don't use run-on sentences.
Run on sentences can easily lose people, so try to keep your sentences short and snappy. This also helps with the pace, as no one wants to read a long, meandering post full of complex sentences. So try and keep it concise!
- Use short paragraphs.
There really is nothing more off-putting than clicking on an interesting looking blog post and being greeted by a huge wall of text. Readers want a blog post that quickly delivers the promised information - not a textbook, or the online equivalent of War and Peace. So keep your paragraphs short, with each one covering a single point or idea, and preferably consisting of no more than four sentences.
- Use sub headings.
Another way to avoid the dreaded text-wall is using sub headings. This not only breaks up the text but also helps with your structure signposting and allows the reader a natural pause every so often.
In the age of tiny attention spans, it also allows for skim reading, which is often a decider for many people as to whether or not they're going to read the post in its' entirety.
- Use lists.
If there’s one thing we all know about online content, it’s that people love lists. Just look at the massive success of list post sites like Buzzfeed! And there’s a good reason for our modern day list-mania.
Lists posts can convey a lot of information quickly, in bite-sized chunks that are easy to read on a smartphone. This makes it the perfect format for our tech-savvy, flighty generation, and you would do well to utilise it.
- Use dark text on a light background and a clear font.
On a practical note, you should literally make sure that your post is easy to read. Quirky fonts and light-coloured texts are hard on the eyes and incredibly difficult to read. And let’s face it: it just looks plain ugly. So please, please don't do it!
You could also take a look at the blogs you love to read and consider what it is that makes them easy to read, and use that information when creating your own content. Your unique position as both a consumer and creator of content gives you a great advantage, and so you may as well use it! It really doesn’t take much to lose people’s interest these days, so why not give your content the best chance possible and make it easy and fun to read?
So what advice would you give for making content easy to read? Are there certain things that are likely to make you stop reading a post?