Chunkify! Part 3: A Page People Can Scan and Get the Big Idea
- Users don’t read long paragraphs
- People should get the “gist” without reading your paragraphs
- How to give the big idea without supporting copy
- One page exercise
Imagine - you are surfing the web researching a new business service. You click on a few search results. Open the first link when…BAM!
Holy Smokes! That’s a ton of content! Are you reading a novel or a web page? You try to scan the page, but you are not finding what you need in the text-heavy paragraphs.
Maybe the page has what you need. But you don’t have time to search with “maybes”.
You skedaddle on to the next search result.
Walls of Text are Intimidating!
You want to welcome your users with open arms, not scare them away. Long paragraphs create intimidating walls of text. These walls are not inviting, so users will not read your content. Slapping them with all the information at once won’t allow them to digest the content.
Invite Users to Scan by Breaking up Copy
Instead of confronting users with a great wall of text, create smaller bits of info. Scannable copy is the center of effective web writing.
Scannable Copy Is More Than Small Chunks
Short paragraphs don’t necessarily equal scannable copy. Users should be able to read the headlines without the paragraphs and still understand the point of your page.
Think of headlines as the “skeleton” of your post, the bones that hold your post up. Without the “meat” of the paragraphs, users should still be able to identify what the page is about.
Start With the Real Value
What will get a user engaged? Start with that information first. Then follow with the juicy details. Use The Inverted Pyramid style of writing. In web writing, it helps put the important information users want above the fold.
A Heading for Every Paragraph – It Will Make Your Writing Better
Headlines work like magic. They break up text and make scanning easier. Paragraph headings let people know if they need to read the paragraph. Remember, use a heading of 5-10 words to encourage the user to read the paragraph of 24-26 words.
Front Load Headlines With Value
Front-load headlines with the “good stuff.” Put the power and the benefit in the first three words, because that's what users scan first. Front-loading helps start with the main point.
Speaking of paragraphs, keep them short. 2-3 line paragraphs are easier to scan.
One line paragraphs add emphasis.
It might not be the essay format 16 years of school hammered into your brain. But you're not writing essays. You're writing blog posts.
Use Lists to Draw Eye to Main Points
Creating eye-catching content is half the battle. Lists draw the eye of the user, make sure the lists are loaded with important and enticing information. This will highlight a few necessary key points on your page.
Keep an eye out for Part 5 in the series where we focus on lists.
Formatting Helps Users Scan
Proper formatting and good typography can work wonders. They help users find the key info they’re looking for. This will be a labor of love between you and your designer.
Improve your page! Add a front-loaded headline to each paragraph.