Website Readability

Be Quick in Making your Point

Even if you have a well-educated audience, they probably don’t want to be deciphering a PhD dissertation every time they visit your website and read your content. You don’t want them to give up reading your content and click away because it’s too difficult to digest.

Making your content easy to read and understand helps make it useful to your readers. Some experts also believe that Google takes readability into account when ranking webpages.

Users get comfortable with your writing when you filter out unnecessary jargon and trim down on fancy vocabulary. Using words that users can relate to is the key. Readability tests like Dale-Chall use a list of familiar words to gauge readability.

But to use words that your user is familiar with, you have to be familiar with your reader first. Give a little thought to the audience you are writing for, and try to keep your copy in sync with their cultural and educational background.

Here’s a citation to a paper on Pubmed. Papers by medical professionals are heavy on jargon. When writing health care manuals for the general public, this paper advises qualified staff to use language that 7th graders could understand.

Copywriters and content specialists cannot do much about visual design. A copy-friendly visual design uses default typefaces, backgrounds and layouts that improve the legibility of your copy.

Use contrasting texts and text hierarchy. The text color should appear distinct against the background. Use headings and subheadings and bullet points to make the copy structured and organized.

Smashing Magazine recommends either 16 pixels or more for users to read from a comfortable distance of 28 inches from the screen.

Choosing the right typeface is important. Sans Serif fonts are relatively cleaner than Serif fonts. The primary goal is legibility. If you are using Serif fonts, don’t use it simply for aesthetics; use the ones that don’t challenge website readability.

Readers scanning pattern:

Tracking eye movement shows the F reading pattern

The line length that is actually read goes on decreasing as we go down the page. In addition to mental fatigue and short attention spans, it is physical fatigue as well. The eye movement from one direction to the other in order to read text gets tiring.

The optimum range for line length is about 45 to 75 characters. If the line is too wide, the user may not be able to focus from beginning to end. If the line is too short, the user may read the same words twice (doubling).

A short line height also increases the horizontal eye movement and exhausts our eyes.

Scanning through the text becomes easy with the optimum line length and height. It also makes reading less strenuous for the human eye.

Responsive web design takes care of adapting the line length to different device screens. You need not worry about fixing the line length with different screen sizes.

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