Website Content Tips: 6 Ways to Grab Readers’ Attention

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Tuesday, 28 June 2011 20:48

Why do you visit websites and what is it that keeps you going back to your favorites? Is it because of their stylish logo or their pretty navigation buttons? Probably not.

Certainly the design is important and the appearance should be professional and attractive, but if the information you want to convey to the reader is boring and hard to find then you will never attract many visitors and it will be unlikely to help grow your business.

It is important to construct content in a way that will help readers zero in on your message. Cris Rominger of Business Communications Group, LLC has developed 6 simple techniques to ensure that your web content grabs the eye and gets the attention of visitors to your website.

  1. Chunk content
    Separate information into digestible "chunks" to facilitate scanning and reading. Crawford Killian, author of Writing for the Web, says that large solid blocks of text - 100 words or more – can cause the eye to become unable to focus or track through the mass of type.

    Chunking content creates natural breaks and helps readers absorb information in manageable pieces. A chunk can have two or three short paragraphs, each with a subhead, all surrounded by lots of white space. Avoid transitional phrases so your content chunks can stand on their own. Information on the web in consumed in modular rather than linear style.

  2. Use instructive headings
    Heat maps and eye tracking studies repeatedly show that headings grab our eye. To leverage their impact, use descriptive phrases that inform the reader what the content is about. Place information carrying words at the beginning of headings to quickly convey meaning and use language your readers understand.

  3. Format for scannability
    * Bold information-rich keywords to help symbolize what a paragraph is about. Be careful not to go overboard. Too many bolded words are distracting and hard to read.
    * Use bulleted and numbered lists when appropriate. Bullet lists rank right next to headings as the most-scanned areas of a page. Bullets are a great place to convey key benefits.
    * Consider tables for voluminous information. Tables or matrices can quickly convey and compare information that is easily lost in text.

  4. Use anchor points
    Effective anchor points help draw attention. Use product hero shots, photos, graphics, and captions to guide the eye and reinforce your message.

  5. Be clear and concise
    Write in the active voice, use strong verbs and simple sentence construction, and get to the point. Flowery or "marketing-oriented" prose does more than slow readers down – it annoys them.

  6. Employ good design
    Good design helps convey your message and instills confidence and trust. Proper use of visual segmentation and hierarchy will do wonders for reader comfort and, ideally, help guide readers to take the next step – interact with you.

  7. Content writing is not an exact science and you probably won’t hit the nail right on the head on the first try but by focusing on these 6 main concepts you’ll be off to a good start and by tracking your site’s performance over a long-term period and continually refining your content, you’ll soon find your website is starting to help grow your business. For more on writing for the web, see Writing Web Content for the Online Reader.

    ~Steve Barnes