How Do We Read on the Internet?


We Don’t Read on the Internet, We Scan

People don’t really read web pages like they read books or newspapers. They scan web pages. They pick out individual words and sentences that catch their eyes, usually those in bold type, like headlines and sub-headings; bulleted phrases and meaningful words and text .

Good quality online copywriting requires shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs and fewer ideas. It is also usually very literal. Remember, the web is global - puns and clever turns of phrase and jargon often don't translate into other cultures.It is mostly likely that a large portion of your readers will be non-mothertongue English speakers.

Experts in these matters have determined that the ideal length for a website article is no more than 400 - 600 words, with plenty of relevant sub headings and bullet points.

Don't use Printed Material for your Website Content

It is dangerous to use printed material like annual reports or media releases for your website. They need to be repurposed if you do want to use them. And don't allow the CEO's niece, who is doing a journalism degree, write the copy either.

Website copy needs to be custom written to be at all effective. It needs to be written with carefully targeted keywords to attract specific audiences via the search engines, but it also needs to be original and of a high quality.

To support the argument of shorter, more meaningful online copywriting and the KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) philosophy, a new study has found that users read e-mail newsletters even more abruptly than they read websites.

Jacob Nielsen’s Alertbox