7 Non-Negotiables of Website Readability

7 Non-Negotiables of Website ReadabilityYour website’s purpose is to promote your business and to make you money. Whether you’re selling a product directly, offering a service or focusing on generating leads, your website is an asset designed to fulfil revenue goals. Otherwise you have no business.

Getting traffic to your site is only the beginning of the customer journey. Once a visitor is reading your site, your focus is to ensure that the user experience is pleasurable and easy as possible. Every website element should be designed to achieve that experience. Especially the copy .

Think about it. If you don’t explain to people what they need, or why they need it, then they certainly won’t need your product or service. And the only way to tell them is with text. And text means reading.

7 Non-Negotiables of Website Readability

1. Black font on a white background: Always. Anything else causes eye-strain and risks reducing the amount of time spent on page. Importantly, Google measures time spent on page, including scrolling, to assess the quality and relevancy of a site.

2. FontSize: To ensure readability, the font size on your website needs to be, at minimum, 15-16 size font. Read your site from different devices: desktop, tablets and smartphones. What’s your experience like?

3. Write for Scannability: Jakob Nielsen’s 2008 eye-tracking study indicated that less than 20% is read on an average web page. Site visitors don’t want to read long continuous blocks of text. People skim site pages looking for highlighted keywords, meaningful headings, short paragraphs, scannable list and importantly the call to action.

Take as a given that your site visitor is in a hurry to find the information they’ re looking for. They’ll scan and skip what’s irrelevant to them.

4. Avoid Clutter and use Formatting Tools: Break up chunks of text using the following:

  • highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
  • meaningful sub-headings over “clever” ones
  • use bulleted lists

5. Short Sentence rule: keep sentences short and get to the point. Like this one. When in doubt, use a full-stop.

6. Write for your reader: It doesn’t matter what you’re saying if your site visitors are unable to comprehend it. Embrace simple writing and reduce complexity. Your readers will comprehend more + there’s a higher likelihood of reaching out to more people.

Given the global marketplace, your reader may have english as second, third or even forth language. Make no assumptions about the literacy levels of your site visitor.

In another usability test, Nielsen tested different wording styles for a website. Concise, scannable and objective copywriting resulted in 124% better usability. Using the Hemingway Editor will highlight the problems getting in the way of clear writing.

Such as:

  • Complex words or phrases
  • Extra-long sentences
  • Too many adverbs
  • Too many instances of passive voice

7. One idea per paragraph: readers skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph. Get to the point as quickly as possible and cut out unnecessary information.

The above seven steps are only the beginning of best practice for website readability and usability.

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