How to Make Your Website More Readable
Readability is one of the most important elements of a good website design. You can have as many images, infographics and other eye-catching content as you want. Yet, if your content is difficult to read, you won’t be able to keep visitors. As a marketer, you spend a lot of time thinking of ways to draw traffic to your website, but how much good does that do if they leave immediately? In order to have a successful website, it’s important to not only have solid body copy, but also a design that makes it easy to digest. Here are some of the best ways to make your website more readable.
Run Readability Scores
Often, the problem with websites’ readability is in the design, not the writing itself. Still, it doesn’t hurt to run some basic tests to see how your body copy is doing. Microsoft Word allows you to see the Flesch-Kincaid reading with the click of a few buttons. To view these scores, copy and paste your website copy into a new Word document. Assuming you’re using the newest version of Word, go to File > Options, then click “Proofing” on the panel to the left. Under the “When Correcting Grammar in Word” heading, click the checkbox next to “Show Readability Statistics.” Then go to Review > Spelling and Grammar. You should see a box that looks like this:
|Sentences per paragraph||13.0|
|Words per sentence||17.0|
|Characters per word||4.4|
|Flesch-Kincaid grade level||8.2|
The bottom three numbers relate to readability. Ideally, you want as few passive sentences as possible and a high reading ease score. (Reading ease is scored from 1 to 100, with 100 being the easiest to read.) The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score also shows what grade level (kindergarten through college) students would be able to read your writing. In most cases, you want this to be on the low side, though you’ll need to keep your target audience in mind. For example, on a law firm’s website, you may need to explain common legal translations. Although, words in a foreign language will give you lower readability scores.
Like any book publisher will tell you, typography is a little thing that can make a big difference in how we read and perceive text. According to a study done by filmmaker Errol Morris, certain fonts are not only more readable than others, but they can also make it more likely that you will be taken seriously. In general, simple, sans-serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica are easiest to read on a screen. Besides choosing a readable font, you’ll also need to make sure there’s enough space between the text. You don’t want to spread words an inch apart or anything, but having a moderate amount of white space will make your copy a lot easier to read.
Use Scannable Text
Few people will read your website word-for-word, so that’s why it’s important for readers to be able to scan your copy. Scannable copy will have numerous headings and sub-headings to help guide readers through the page. It will also judiciously use bold, italic and enlarged fonts in places where the words need extra emphasis. Separators and dividers can help show readers where the different sections on your page begin and end. This will help them get to the relevant information more quickly.
Focus on Mobile Layout
Page layout plays a big role in text readability. You can quickly turn off readers if your design is too complicated or doesn’t lay out information in a logical manner. In general, businesses have perfected the art of creating a visually appealing, easy-to-read layout for desktop users. That’s not always the case for mobile, though. According to a study done by BrightEdge, poor mobile layouts cause businesses to lose up to 68% of their mobile traffic. You can minimize this loss in traffic by using a responsive page design that will automatically adjust to the device a reader uses.
Following these tips will make your copy a lot easier to read!