There is no doubt there is a proliferation of content being created today, all vying for your attention. Millions of pieces of content are uploaded every minute. ZenithOptimedia reported we are spending 490 minutes consuming different forms of media on a daily basis. This means creating quality content is paramount, but it’s also important to make sure your content is readable. Because there is so much content to consume, it’s critical your content be graphically appealing and scannable. You only have seconds to grab your reader’s attention before they will move on to someone else’s content.
I had a copywriter partner in my early days as an art director. One of the things he taught me that I’ve never forgotten decades later is this: “Your opening paragraph has to grab readers by the balls and make them want to read on.” I spent two hours working on that first paragraph till he finally decided I had written something compelling enough.
But make the opening easily scannable. Dense paragraphs are off-putting. Break up heavy paragraphs for your readers.
Try to tell the story through visuals as well as text. It helps your audience get the gist of your story by scanning the visual storyline. If you make the visuals compelling enough they will encourage visitors to read the text between the photos.
Ensure the visuals are pinnable/shareable. I know there are two sides to watermarking your photos, but great photos travel so I’m all for watermarking photos, as well.
We find that the more photos you use, the longer a viewer will spend with the content and a piece will typically get more engagement with more visuals.
Audiences will read the headline, scan the opening paragraph and then read your subheads if you’re lucky. If there was no other text in your content, your readers should be able to understand your story simply by reading the headline and subheads. Craft the subheads so your readers will want to read the subtext. And never have dense subtext. Always break it up into multiple paragraphs.
I never run text immediately after a subhead. I choose to have subheads standalone. After all, the point of a subhead is to stand out.
People read headlines and then possibly the first paragraph before deciding if your content is worthy of their eyeballs. Bullets break content down into digestible sound bytes that can be scanned. They make it easy to absorb multiple consecutive thoughts.
Infographics don’t have to be long, cumbersome graphics. Chunk them out throughout the article. People love visual candy. If you’re showcasing stats, they are much more inviting to read than text. Again, make sure they are shareable/pinnable.
Many sites don’t allow for color, but in blog posts I like to use a small amount of color to pull a reader through the content. Our eyes naturally go to color.
Maybe because I was once an old school direct marketer, I still believe in a tastefully executed use of bold or all caps. These text elements are a great way to call attention to content in a scannable way. Just don’t overdo it or everything screaming for attention will defeat the objective of making your content scannable.
It’s often hard to get people to take an action even with great content. Consider creating graphics for your call-to-actions. They can act as little stop signs.
One last tip to think about: writing in a conversational manner. I think it makes the content easier to read. And you do want your audience to read your content, right?