Creating More Reader-Friendly Content For Your Website

Remember back in high school when your English teacher taught you how to write a successful paper. You were told that the first paragraph should contain your thesis statement. The paper should consist of five paragraphs, each beginning with a topic sentence and containing evidence for whatever position you were taking. Evidence was to be followed by exposition. In the final paragraph, you were to reconfirm your argument in a “see what I just did” kind of way. The rules were very rigid, but if you followed them closely, you got an A.

When it comes to getting an A in writing for the Internet—that is, having people actually read what you write in your blog—there are four simple words you need to know: Goodbye to all that.

People looking at content on the Internet aren’t reading it the way your high school English teacher reads your carefully crafted compositions. Rather, they scan pages looking for things that stand out. Here are a few tips that will keep attract readers and keep them coming back for more.

Don’t Bury The Lede
A “lede” in journalistic jargon is the first sentence of the story and gives the reader the most important information. It’s the hook that gets them wanting to read more. In your high school English paper, your main point was somewhere toward the end of a long paragraph. But if you wait that long in your blog post, your readers may get bored and click on to something else.

Don’t Be Long-Winded
If you’ve got a complicated subject that will take a lot of unpacking to fully illustrate, think about breaking it up into its component parts and posting it as a series of blog entries. In this way, you’ll be able to hold your readers’ attention and you’ll also give them a reason to keep coming back for more.

Keep Paragraphs Short
If you look at sites like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, you’ll notice that most of their paragraphs consist of no more than a few sentences, many of them only one sentence. This gives the reader a break between ideas and makes it easier to keep one’s place.

Highlight Important Information
If a sentence or idea is particularly important, use a bold font to draw attention to it.

Organize with Subheads
Subheadings will help you organize your ideas (like when you had to write those outlines in high school English) and will enable your readers to home in on relevant and important information.

Make Your Points With Lists
Using bullet points and numbered lists are effective ways of breaking down important, easy-to-read information.

Use Image Captions to Provide Information
Readers’ eyes are naturally drawn to images. Use the captions to provide important information about your topic and to get visitors engaged enough to want to read the whole post.

Proofread. Then Proofread Again.
The quickest way to lose a reader is through misspelled words and bad grammar. Always check your work before you hit publish. Then check it again.