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Writing for the web: Construct your copy wisely

Aug17

Written by:
2010/08/17 08:28 AM RssIcon

Electronic vs print media

When writing for the web we find having copy that is sharp, easy to read and gets to the point quickly works best.

Different reading experience

Online reading is so different from regular print reading. For the most part it is physical. A computer screen displays text at a much lower resolution than print media. With less detail and sharpness. Letters are fuzzier.

This causes a lot of strain on our eyes. I know myself, spending well over 12 hours a day on the computer, I suffer from sore eyes and migraines.

This causes us to feel that reading one line takes longer. So most people look for shorter constructed copy. Copy that is easy to read and won’t tire their eyes as much.

Readers scan first

Most online readers scan first. At first they don’t read the copy word for word. They scan the page allow their eyes to pick up words and sentences. If they don’t find anything of interest they will probably move on.

Read our previous post about eyetracking studies and where readers look first.

We learn the basic truths about site visitors:

  • They scan to see whether the content is relevant.
  • They are more likely to scan the top of the page than the bottom.
  • They look at headings, boldfaced terms, and images.

How to construct your copy

Scanning takes less brain power and does not tire the eye as much. So it is important that you make your visitors as comfortable as possible.

  • Use short sentences
  • Use short paragraphs.
  • Make effective use of headlines
  • Use bold, but use it sparingly.
  • Use italics.
  • Use colour, once again sparingly.
  • Use different font sizes, but only in headings not in paragraphs.
  • Use lists and numbered lists.
  • Use an appropriate line height. Leave some white space between sentences.
  • Use white space on either side of your copy
  • Use images intelligently, be careful though, they could also ruin your copy and site.
  • Use familiar words. Don’t try and impress others with your command of your language.

Conclusion

If you construct your copy well you are most likely to attract more visitors that will probably stay a lot longer.

Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share with us on how to construct good copy

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