Writing Web Copy for Maximum Readability
a.k.a. Don’t Put Your Readers to Sleep
When you write for the web you are writing for people who are
traveling 75 miles per hour in need of immediate information.
They skim, they scan, they are not looking for fluff.
Web readers are mission minded. They devour content.
If you are going to hold the attention of web readers, you’ll
need to follow this formula we’ve laid out for you…
Before You Write
Before typing that first word, have clearly defined goals.
Without goals, you will ramble, wander, and quite
possibly fill your web content with unnecessary fluff.
Ask yourself the following questions:
• Why am I writing this? What am I trying to accomplish?
• Am I teaching a skill, selling a product, providing useful information?
• What will my reader come away with in the end?
Once your goal is defined:
• Write clear, concise and compelling content. This is a NO FLUFF ZONE.
• Your headline should get readers to your first sentence. Your first sentence
should bring readers to the second sentence. If this sounds elementary, it is.
Think about it this way: Nobody wants to theorize on how to start the car. All
they want to do is drive.
For maximum readability, there are a few graphic
and visual elements you will want to consider, even
before you begin creating your content.
• White Space
• Hierarchy defines how to read through content. Every typographic layout
needs proper hierarchy. It leads the reader from start to finish with
elements such as Headers, Sub-headers, and Bullet Points to increase the
reader’s ability to quickly scan through and understand the content.
• Hierarchy is a vital technique that needs to be mastered to achieve
readable web content.
• With proper hierarchy, the content will flow effortlessly.
Contrast is a vital element in the immediate
readability of text. Crisp contrasts will make text
easy to scan and easy on the eyes.
• Black on white is very readable and obviously the
standard contrast colors. In order to achieve
maximum readability, it is best to stay in the
range of black-on-white contrast.
• A splash of a strong color can also be used to draw attention to a certain
element or section of content.
White Space & Consistency
The general rule for a blog post or web article is 500 words or less. If you
have anything to do with the overall layout, spacing will contribute to the
White space offsets large amounts of text and provides separation between
elements in the layout, such as graphics and text.
Consistency is achieved by using the same colors, sizes of sub-headings, and
creating a uniform, appealing look.
Using Bullet Points
Because Web readers like to scan, extracting bullets out of compound
sentences will help you drive home a point while also increasing the usability
of your content. Online attention spans are almost non-existent and reading
wordy paragraphs on a computer screen is not as easy as in print.
• Keep points in parallel by beginning each bullet with the same part of
• Maintain the same grammatical form for each bullet point.
Organize With Sub-headers
This is a Sub-header
The average web visitor will only read 28% of what
is on your page. Help them get the most out of the
content by using sub-headers.
Sub-headers allow the user to disseminate a page of content
visually. They divide the page into manageable sections and
declare what each section is about. This is important to those
scanning the page (your average web reader).
Sub-headers also create a visual flow that allows users to move
their eyes easily across the content.
Write With Authority & Value
Writing with authority will build reader trust and work in your advantage.
Do the following whenever possible:
• Never guess. A well researched article is your
ticket to success.
• Provide links from trusted sources
• Go the extra mile. If you can’t find information on
the web, interview an expert in the field.
• Don’t regurgitate the same old content that is
already found online. Ask yourself, “What NEW
and VALUABLE information can I bring to the table?”
SEO: Getting Found
Writing the best, most compelling web copy in the world won’t do you a bit of
good if no one can find your content.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO Involves the skill of writing so the search engines can find you.
This is an entire teaching in itself, but one
element of SEO you can implement
immediately is the use of keywords.
SEO: Keywords are King
There are plenty of online tools available that provide the best keywords
and keyword phrases for any business or industry website.
Keywords are used in the content of web copy in order to validate the exact
subject matter of the website. Choosing the right keywords is key to being
Data available from Google Adwords will allow you to look up certain
keyword phrases to see how popular they are. With the click of a button you
will find out how many people are
searching your keywords. You’ll also
receive a list of comparable phrases that
you may want to use in your web content.
After all the other elements are taken care of, the most vital part of writing
web copy for maximum readability is to connect with your
reader in some real way.
Relationships are built on trust. Trust is built through
Be yourself when you are writing web copy.
Draw from authoritative sources AND your
own personal experiences.
Add a dash of humor, tell a story. Do what
it takes to connect. If your readers feel a
connection to you, you are well on your
way to success.