in Design

How To Make Your Visitors Read Your Articles

reading articles online

Internet has made its way into our lives more and more as time has gone by. We’re slowly moving away from the centuries of tradition in hard print to digital versions of the books, magazines and newspapers we used to turn to in our search for information. Nobody can deny that a lot of readers have started to drift towards online sources of information. And, while there are still those who are infinitely more comfortable with a book or printed newspaper, many now prefer blogs, news sites and forums over the more established forms of print.

It stands to reason that we don’t process online content in the same way we process offline information and many studies have been made to support this theory. Still, many bloggers and website writers are ignorant to these differences. By not taking into account how your message is altered by the medium in which you choose to expose it, you will never get the reaction you’re looking for in your readers. Therefore, it is vital to understand exactly how you can optimize your web content.

What changes?

The way Stanislas Dehaene explains it in his book, Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read, the main difference is owed to the fact that we are able to concentrate differently on hard print than with online information. Many of us are still part of the generations that held actual books while doing the required readings for school. As a result, when reading offline, it’s easier to focus on long pieces of narration and text where the writer takes his time to make his point and doesn’t need to employ any visual or audio aids.

When we go online, however, we analyse information in a different way and the writing we are exposed to should be tailored to this alteration. When in front of a computer screen or tablet, our attention tends to wonder, skip and glaze over the words and sentences. Usually we’re more interested in moving to the next page and seeing what it has to offer rather than patiently reading everything that appears on the current one.

What is effective for online readers?

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It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about in your blog post, article or eBook. It matters that you make your content interesting and absorbing to your reader. Your piece will be effective for online readers if they finish it and take from it the exact message you were trying to convey.

When discussing effectiveness in online content, don’t think of how many words your reader will understand and retain, it won’t be more than 10% anyway. What you have to focus on is the key information you want delivered and make sure it comes across loud and clear. Remember, when you’re writing something to be published online, you can’t afford to think of targeting a specific demographic. The Internet is for everyone and you should use that to your advantage and make your message available to as many audiences as you can.

Online readers aren’t restricted by geographic location or language. Most of the content out there is in English and almost anyone can understand at least a bare minimum. As a result, it has become very hard to write something that will meet all of the needs of the average reader. What you should be aiming for is a content that is as easy to understand as possible, without losing anything of its substance. Make sure your reader can easily find and register your information and then allow him to move on.

Tips and Tricks for Content that Appeals to Online Readers.

Here are four of the more important tips and tricks that will help you in writing for the online crowd:

1. Headlines

They are successfully used in both online and offline content, but carry a lot more weight online.By using a smart headline, you are more likely to draw the reader in, since the headline is the first thing he or she notices. It doesn’t matter where your reader comes across your headline, in the results of a search or featured on a homepage, make it snappy, make it interesting and make it intriguing. If you don’t, they’ll just navigate to something that piques their interest more.

However, don’t let your imagination run away with you. Your headline has to be clear and appealing, not flashy and completely unrelated to the rest of your content. The reader has to get a sense of what they’re about to read when they click on the headline.

2. Visual appear

– Don’t hesitate to make your content as visually appealing as you think is necessary.
– Don’t use walls of text, meaning long and dense paragraphs that quickly lose the reader’s interest.
– Don’t try to be too fancy and cram more than one idea in a sentence. Use periods and avoid commas and semicolons as much as possible.
– Use clearly defined lists as often as you find it appropriate.
– Don’t get too arty with your fonts. Use San Serif fonts for text. They were designed with online content in mind and have an enhanced readability on any resolution.
– Don’t be afraid to bold key pieces of information. Your readers attention will be automatically drawn to them. However, try to keep it to a minimum or else your reader will stop finding it noteworthy.

3. Active voice

Don’t avoid the first person and always keep a firm grasp on how you want to write your article. It’s easier to get your point across by applying active voice. Start your sentence with a noun, followed by a strong action and ending with the direct object.

4. Word count

Use as many words as you think is necessary in order to deliver your message. Do not use any more. If you can say it in two sentences, don’t write a whole paragraph, your reader will get bored and just skip to the next page.

Here are some guidelines by writer Dave Copeland:

– Use subheadings to break up your text and organize information in the same way you use your headlines.

– Incorporate links in your writing to maintain your reader’s interest and give them the chance to read more about your topic. Carefully selected and placed links will give you an increase in credibility.

– Add photos, charts, infographics or videos if they help you make your point. Do not do it just to make your article prettier, your reader may get distracted and miss the point.

To sum up.

Remember that when writing for online readers, you can’t use the things you’ve observed by reading books or printed newspapers. Your content can be amazing, but if it fails to grasp your audience’s interest, it won’t amount to much. The key is to understand the difference between the way information is absorbed online and offline. When you have a firm grasp on it, you’ll start to notice how much more successful your writing has become.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.