How to Make Your Content Easy to Scan

Visitors to your website are looking for specific information and you have only seconds to show them you have it. Because reading online takes 30% longer than reading on paper, making your page easy to scan will help visitors find what they're looking for faster.

To do this, you need to draw the visitor's eye to important information. Consider using the following:

  • Taglines
  • Descriptive headings
  • Bold or color for important points
  • Numbered lists or bullet points
  • Descriptive and obvious links


Taglines

Taglines are short statements that tell your visitors what your website is about. For example, if you have a business that specializes in personalizing t-shirts, you might want to use something like "Personalized shirts for all occasions".

Taglines should be highly visible. Close to your logo and near the top is where visitors will likely look for quick cues to tell them what your business does.


A great tagline for jiu-jitsu club


Descriptive Headings

Headings and subheadings are a quick way for a visitor to evaluate whether your pages hold the information they're looking for. The main heading should give an idea of the topic of the entire page. For example, a page containing quotes of your satisfied customers, should have a heading like "Testimonials".

Subheadings let the visitor quickly scan and locate information throughout the page.  This is particularly helpful if your page is full of text. Subheadings break up the text and let the visitor jump to the information that is important to them.


Descriptive headings and subheadings tell the visitor whether they'll want to read the paragraphs below

 


Use Bold or Color for Important Points

Bold or colored font draws attention. You'll want to use it for headings, subheadings, and even important points within paragraphs so that visitors find them easily.

It also tells the search engines that you've placed importance on those words. This will help them to decide the relevance of your website for specific keyword searches. Learn more about Search Engines and Keywords.

Avoid underlining to emphasize points. Underlining has become a universal standard to indicate links. Using them in titles can confuse visitors when they click on the underlined text and aren't sent to a different page.


Bold and colored text draws your eye to the important points


Numbered Lists or Bullet Points

If you have a lot of information on your page, you may want to use lists or bullets. This helps you condense a lot of information into a shorter format. It is also easier to scan brief points when they're listed vertically, rather than hidden in a long paragraph.


Bulleted lists allow for easy scanning

 

Descriptive and Obvious Links

The information on your website is probably going to be split up over a number of pages. You want to help visitors navigate through your pages to the information they want. The best way to do this is to make sure your links describe where they'll take the visitor. For example, if one of your pages has an article on washing bugs off your car windshield, you may want to name the link to that page "Washing Bugs Off Your Windshield".

You'll also want make it easy for visitors to identify linked text. It's become a website design standard to underline text links and color them differently from the rest of the text. The most common colors are:

As long as it's easy for visitors to identify that the text is a link, subtle variations in this format are fine. If you do decide to format your links differently, make sure that you use the same format throughout your website to avoid confusing your visitors.


Although these links are green, you can still see that they're linked by the underline and the fact that they're a different color than the rest of the text

 

NOTE: Using keywords to name links will work to increase the search engine relevance and rank of the page being linked to.


To apply these formatting tips, you'll need to write content for your web pages. Read How to Write for the Internet and How to Write Website Content that Sells for more great tips.

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