It’s a trait that we’re all guilty of, in fact I pride myself on my ability to skim read. In my industry it certainly helps me to be able to absorb a lot of information in a very short space of time. But, skim reading means two very important things for anyone thinking about web text – it’s got to be relevant and it’s got to be short.
No problem, I hear you say, but actually it is a problem. A big one. Present anyone with a massive chunk of text that you think is relevant, even if it is, no one is going to read it. This is one of the main reasons why you should always be thinking about hiring a copywriter when composing your web text – condensing information into short, punchy sentences is hard. If you’ve ever tried to come up with a slogan for anything, you’ll be familiar with the problem.
If you still need further persuasion, recent research suggests that we are fast becoming a world of skim readers, unable to read anything at length. Considering some of the following points when you’re thinking about your web text will help you answer the skim reader generation’s need for speed.
On average, people only have time to read 28 per cent of the words on your page. They will be busy looking at the images, video clips, adverts – you name it, they are bombarded. 28 per cent? That’s a whole lot of text they’re not reading, which means if you’re not grabbing them from the off, you’re losing them.
How many times have you clicked on to a website, and then within 10 seconds clicked out, as you haven’t found the information you are after? With just 28 per cent of words to play with, you’ve got to ensure that what you say is what your customers need to hear. And fast.
Length of text
It’s not always possible to condense your text into one paragraph, or a succinct sentence that says everything you need to, but there are ways of making lengthy text much more readable and digestible for your audience. If you need to do this, start thinking about how you would categorise your information.
It’s a tough balance, but on occasions it is worth having just a few more pages or sub-pages if it means that the text on them then becomes condensed. Striking the balance between too many pages and not enough, takes a bit of planning and a lot of text analysis but it’s worth it.
Images are a skim readers dream. We have short attention spans, we like to look at other stuff, then read a bit more. It’s worth investing in good images to help lift the pages. Web pages without images are an automatic turn off for any skimmy minny.
Keywords, Facts and Figures
What most skim readers are after, and remember that is a majority of web users these days, are the essential bits of information. The need-to-knows. Teasing out key bits of information about your offering, statistics and keywords will all help your reader to quickly see the relevance and help you clarify your message.
Hire a copywriter
Ok, so this last one is tongue-in-cheek. But seriously; hire a copywriter.