How to Write a Great Web Post – Scannability

Writing for the Web has unique challenges.  In this series of posts you’ll learn the best practices for writing for the Web that can help you better connect with your readers and maximize the effectiveness of your writing

A lot has been said about actually having good content.  And to be clear, “content is still king”.  However, having great content or producing something that is interesting is only part of the battle.  Presenting, structuring, and conveying the content of your post is also critical.  Lot’s of great content is often lost and never fully read.

This series will explore the tactics and best practices to convey your content in the most effective manner for the medium of the Web.

In the first installment of this series we’ll explore the best ways to make sure your post is actually read.  Web readers notoriously have the attention span of a 4 year old toddler in an amusement park.  Your post has only a small shot of getting the interest of a browser even when they are looking directly at it.

The most important tactic in ensuring your post is read is scannability.  Web readers often scan a post in a second and make a decision to stay or read.  By structuring your post to facilitate this scanning and in such a way to convey your key points you’ll have a much greater chance of getting the interest of your readers.

Here are 7 easy to use best practices to making any post scannable:

1. Lists and Bullets

Lists of things are easy to read and always catch the eye.  In addition, numerical lists provide a great way to ensure top to bottom scanning.  Nobody wants to miss out.

2. Short paragraphs

Large blocks of text are impossible to scan and might as well be hieroglyphics.  Short paragraphs break up your content in small bursts and provide more “first sentence” areas to focus the attention on.

3. Lots of white space

Crunching your content into the smallest space possible can create an overwhelming feeling to your readers.

4. Graphics and Images

Images and graphics can help to break up monotonous text.  A graphic is a great eye grabber and can give a visual clue on the content.

5. Highlighting

Formatting important key phrases or sections in bold or italics is a great way to convey strong keywords into your reader’s minds.

6. Headings

Similarly, strong heading and section breaks is a great way to present a visual the outline of your post.

7. Pull Quotes

You can use pull quotes to really draw out key sentences or phrases.  They are almost always read.  The other great thing a pull quote does is humanize the post.  It shows a quote by a person, which can help to connect you as a person to your reader.

I hope that has been helpful.  Next in the series we’ll take a look at the actual writing style.


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