Online Gift #2: Short, Well-Formatted Pages & Posts

formatting web pagesContinuing our series: Free Online Gifts Every Communicator Can Give, one simple gift every web admin and blogger can give to their audience is web pages and blog posts that are formatted for easy online reading.

Format Pages for the Web

People read web pages and blog posts differently than they read books and magazines.  We generally do not sit back in a comfortable chair and read web pages for 15 minutes to an hour at a time for the pure enjoyment of it.

We seek out web pages for a specific purpose, usually to answer a specific question. We don’t want to read for 5 minutes only to find out the page didn’t address answer our question or provide the insight we were looking for.  So we tend to skim.   So, we need to write our web pages and articles for people who are skimming.

  1. Have a clear title that indicates the content of the page.  For example, not just “Latest News” but a few words to indicate what the latest news is.
  2. Like a newspaper article, give an overview of what the page/article is about in the first paragraph.
  3. Keep the page short.  There are exceptions to this, but a good rule of thumb is if a page is more than 3 screens long you probably need to edit part of it out or split it into multiple pages.
  4. Keep your paragraphs short.  Do not follow the “rules” your 5th grade English teacher taught you about an intro sentence, 3 supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence. (Sorry teachers :)
  5. Frequently, use headings, bullet points and numbered points.
  6. Link to supporting documents.  Instead of going off on tangents or spending a couple of sentences explaining something you’ve written elsewhere, just link to it.
  7. Use images. Pictures, charts, graphics and info graphics can convey a lot of info quickly.

Give your readers this gift and they will thank you. :)

Any other suggestions for how to format pages and blog posts in ways that will help your readers digest them?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

3 Responses to “Online Gift #2: Short, Well-Formatted Pages & Posts”

  1. All good ideas. I know, personally, I skim down a web page and try to get the idea quickly of what it has to say. People don't want to spend all day reading a page just to finally find out it's not what they were looking for.

    I have been recently been studying typography, and what a difference it can make in keeping pages interesting and making people want to stay around and read them. One thing that is important is readability – make sure your font stands out on the page. For example red font on a black background is hard to read and people won't bother. Do everything you can to encourage readers to stick around.

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  3. Yeah it's the right idea of well formatted pages and posts. Like most of this creative and artistic presentation. I will try to make one.