How to attract readers to your text

I have the pleasure of judging websites on occasion. There are two things that really annoy me. Firstly, design that compromises the readability of text - and, secondly, poor writing that doesn’t do justice to a brilliant layout. Here are some tips that you may find helpful.

The first 'design criminal', in my book, is the designer who feels that text is an annoying intrusion into an otherwise good design. They run paragraphs together to create less offensive and distracting blocks of grey. But the longer the paragraphs - the greater the chance the reader will be put off from reading them.

Some basic ground rules

Research tells us that the web visitor’s top priority is to quickly access and read the information that they need. Nothing should hinder them in this process. So clear and rapid navigation is a must. Why should the writer spend hours crafting brilliant copy - and nobody can find it to read it?

A writer must not only write clearly, concisely and pander to their target audiences but they must also become ‘designers of text’

From research done by Stanford Poynter in America we know that the reader first looks at words rather than images and other design elements. I know the truth hurts, but the busy reader is actually more interested in the text than in the design!

We will all be aware that readers pay little attention to banner web advertising. Eye tracking monitoring often shows that if we make a feature of something to attract the reader’s attention, it can have the reverse effect with them deliberately avoiding it.

Abstract text

So beware of over-design. Once the web page is live, track the web stat's to ensure link and page effectiveness.

Avoid other page distractions. Navigation for every part of a website on every single web page is usually avoidable. The readers have come to the website for content not navigation.

Visual appeal

We need to combine the persuasiveness and clarity of the written message with a visually well structured and appealing layout.

If we have page after boring page of text on a website the reader may simply not bother to read the material and leave the website. Text needs to be supported by relevant visuals - but they must complement and not be a distraction. And for optimum reader engagement animation is out.

A top chef will not only create a dish that tastes good but they also make it look good too. A writer must not only write clearly, concisely and pander to their target audiences but they must also become ‘designers of text’.

They need to create tight punchy headlines. The opening paragraph shouldn’t put people off from reading the rest of the material. The content needs to be short and provide a taster to draw the reader in. I hope my opening paragraph in this article did this for you.

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