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7 Ways to Reduce the Content and Increase the Message!
Is your website packed full of great and extremely useful information?
So is a collection of Encyclopedias, but that doesn’t necessarily mean someone will sit down and read every word from every book to get an idea of what information they offer.
The fact is, people rarely read web pages word by word. Instead, they SCAN it.
Yes, I said it. All that hard work you put in — to effectively communicate who you are and what you do and how you do it — and that’s the thanks you get?
It doesn’t matter what literary masterpiece you have on your home page. Most visitors won’t get through the first sentence without giving up and taking a (very) quick gander at the rest of your page to get the information they want.
Your visitors are looking for value, plain and simple. That means your site has to communicate the value it offers quickly and clearly.
How? The best way to do this is to increase your site’s scanability to keep their interest.
I think of it as online readability. Present your site in a way where any visitor will understand the purpose of your site at a glance. In other words, you need to reduce the content but increase the message.
I’m not suggesting you just delete a few words, paragraphs, pages, et al. Instead, try to promote quality content knowing that every word, image and even blank space has an important purpose. This can be done many ways using Headlines, bullet or list items, text formatting, images and clear navigation.
Here are 7 ways to improve your site’s scanability.
1. Try the inverted pyramid format
…when presenting information on the web. An inverted pyramid gives the main ideas at the beginning of the page and the less important items at the end. You can even apply this to a news story or article where the news and conclusions are presented first, followed by details and background information.
2. Don’t get long-winded.
Get to the point. Seriously, it’s not fun to read the boring details.
3. Consider using a simple graphic
…in place of an extensive “How this works” article with heaps of text. No decent amount of words would allow me to describe the intricacy of the steering design in a car to an average car owner. This picture really is worth a thousand words.
4. Use a juicy image.
Instead of writing “we have the best hotdogs around” followed by a description of why yours are better than any others, let a juicy image make it obvious.
5. Instead of stuffing every piece of information
…about you and your company on one page, concentrate on a single objective (replacing most of the text with images and using a balanced layout.)
6. Don’t use superfluous words to describe your site.
Use a combination of images, headers, lists, and even some balancing white space to direct your visitors to the point.
7. Use good formatting.
Last, but not least, use good formatting. Keep your visitors’ interest by making your headlines and navigation items obvious and relevant. Take advantage of text formatting (using bold and italics – but never underline) to draw the attention to important topics on your page. Only use the underline format with click-able links. And remember to stay consistent with your formatting throughout your site.
Does this only apply to your home page? Absolutely not! Make sure all the main pages of your site communicate a clear value and offer easy scanability. You will notice greater conversions (sales or leads), fewer visitors leaving the web page as soon as the arrive (“bounces”) and longer average visits. And that is what designing a good web site is all about.
July 19th, 2011
Janetta Smith is a computer consultant in Oklahoma City and has owned and operated her business, Smith Consulting, for over 20 years. She wears many hats from computer support and online backup services to marketing, web design and professional photography services.