How To Improve the Readability Of Your Blog

Filed as News on March 15, 2007 5:19 am

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I find that the best “how-to” posts are backed up with proof. And there’s a great article over at the Online Journalism Review which summarizes some of the research optimizing design and copy to boost readability and comprehension. The unspoken corollary, however, is that by making a site a better read, people will want to come back.

I found some of the results intuitive, and but one result not so much. To summarize …

  • Short paragraphs, bulleted points, and lots of white space make for an imminently more readable design; headlines are important to help people scan material. Furthermore, use of these elements in your “copy” will help people will retain more information as well.
  • A simple, concise navigational structure is best
  • Images are a waste of valuable online real estate, as most users ignore them UNLESS: they are directly relevant to the text, feature approachable (and regular-looking people), or feature images of people private parts. The most strangely fascinating part of the article was how it described how men were drawn to the crotch region
    • Yes, you might say “duh” and “of course”, but consider this: it continued to be the case even in photos which presented fully clothed male athletes, and even pictures of animals (dogs, actually).

I guess we all know that there’s an element of truth to these results; on the other hand, its always great to find proof for what many copywriters have known through the ages: to improve readability and comprehension, it doesn’t pay to write dense paragraphs of text with phD-level vocabulary. Readers of all online material necessarily scan for information, and having text written in a way that acknowledges that fact can’t help but improve your writing, and in turn, your blog.

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