Ever feel that someone stopped listening before you stopped talking? This problem extends to the web. Here’s why – and how you can increase the chance that readers will remember what you wrote.
Write So They'll Read it on Their Screen
Here’s a harsh wake-up call. As Jakob Nielsen notes, according to recent eye tracking and other research most people read just 20% of what you wrote in that blog post or online article. This is especially true if you have “above-average intelligence.” So, do you go for dumber readers or shorter articles and posts?
Tips for Those (Like You) Who Are Writing for a Smart Audience
1. Be brief
2. Outline your topic
3. Headline or otherwise separate subtopics
4. Present items in bullet and/or numbered format.
5. Skip “fancy formats” as they tend to look like advertising and thus ignore.
Do I still have your attention? (Presumably so since you’re quite smart.)
More Evidence: Why It DOES Pay to Be Brief
#1: Although we spend more time on pages with more words and more information, we only spend 4.4 seconds more for each additional 100 words.
# 2: When one adds more words to that screen page, people will only read 18% of it. Ouch.
Tip: Like the pyramid style in good newspaper writing, include in the first paragraph the why, who, what, when and how.
• Put your best example in the first sentence, followed by your summary sentence.
• Encapsulate your summary in the first sentence, followed by your best example in the second sentence.
Considering the eye tracking research (and your smarts), I fear I may losing you so I’ll stop.
But first this confession. I must be in the dumber category because I enjoy the “feast” of reading longer posts and articles – when they are well-written – even online.