You can help your website readers get the information you want them to have even if they don’t read all the text. Not only can you do that, you should.
You might remember some research about how long readers typically stay on a web page:
- 55 percent of people spend less than 15 seconds on a web page.
- 66 percent of people scroll down the page.
- Research by PhD Jakob Nielsen shows that the average page view lasts A LITTLE LESS THAN A MINUTE.
Think about that for a moment: You have 60 seconds to give them the information you want them to have. That’s not much time at all.
So how can you get your message to readers without expecting them to read every word? By optimizing for scanning. That means using typography to draw the reader’s eye to the important parts.
- Size: Use larger type, like headlines and subheads, to hit the biggest, highest-level view of what you are saying.
That may be: Invisalign Can Straighten Your Smile, Dental Implants Work Like Real Teeth, or Have a Bright Smile with Zoom! Whitening. If they read nothing else, you want them to read the biggest text on the page.
- The next thing readers will see is bold.
Put key phrases in bold so that if someone scrolls down the page and reads nothing but the bold text, they end up with the message. These are the next highest-level messages.
You should bold text to emphasize what patients are looking for; think: Pain-Free Dentistry, Convenient Hours and Appointments, and Sedation, to name a few.
- Using italic text works much like bold, but it doesn’t draw the eye as much.
Italic text is best used for a single word or a short string of words. Again, this draws the reader’s eye as they are scanning quickly through the page. But using italic effectively usually means that the reader will have to go back and read the whole sentence to see the context of the italicized type.
- Numbered or bulleted lists are an effective way to get people to understand sections of your text quickly.
- Much like italic, this takes a little more investment of the reader’s time to understand the context of the list.
- This is a very effective way to list the benefits of a service or procedure.
- You can always come back after the list and expound on the various points in the list for those who want to read more closely.
Here is a word of warning: If you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing. Using color in your text is too easy to overdo and do incorrectly. It’s better to have a single color in your text than to use it incorrectly.
If you write only 250 or 350 words, you probably don’t need to optimize for scanning (though you should still have a headline and maybe some bold words). But if your pages are 500 words or more, you are doing readers – and yourself – a service by making the copy easier to scan.