Author Website Content: Keep Things Short and Sweet

An article in a recent issue of Internet and Marketing Report reinforced something that I’ve been saying for a while: When it comes to website content, keep text brief!

Now don’t take this personally, but keeping text short can be quite a challenge for authors 🙂

Here’s why you need to do it, though. According to research, you have only two seconds to catch a visitor’s attention before he or she decides to leave your website. That’s not enough time to read a paragraph, let alone a long sentence!

With that in mind, here are some tips on how to make sure your web content gets as much attention as possible.

1. One thought, one sentence. Keep your sentences between 15 and 25 words. Once your sentence contains more than one idea, it’s too long!

2. Simplify. Browsing a website is not like reading a scientific journal. Avoid complicated words that some people won’t understand. Make your message simple and easy for someone to absorb in one glance.

3. Think columns or bullets. Nobody is going to read a paragraph that spans the entire width of a website. There are two ways to avoid this. One is to make sure you have columns built into your site design — with each text block only taking up a segment of the page. Another option is to use bullets wherever possible, so that things are broken up into short, easy-to-browse lines.

4. Don’t let paragraphs ramble. Long, chunky paragraphs are a no-no. A visitor is going to see the length of it and decide that it’s not worth the time. In fact, research shows that lengthy paragraphs make a subject look even more intimidating. Try to keep your paragraphs to four to six lines of text.

Just an interesting side-note from the article … apparently, long paragraphs became the norm in journalism from magazines. Editors trying to fit articles into the fixed space on a printed page were forced to combine paragraphs that otherwise would have been broken up. But we have no size restrictions in the cyberworld, so lean towards breaking your paragraphs up — not combining them — whenever possible.