Creating digital content that’s reader friendly

Consumers are now more time-poor than ever, with an alleged attention span of eight seconds, the way we consume media and information has altered fundamentally.

How we read books, magazines, and newspapers has changed and publishers are increasingly shifting their focus to the digital world as a result. But with online information consumption on the rise, it’s important to understand that writing content for websites involves a lot more than simply shifting the printed content to another medium, it also involves platform consideration, and in some cases purpose built mobile websites.

The way that content is processed differs online and, as a consequence of the move to digital, so too has the way that they expect to engage with the content providers. It is vital, therefore, to understand how these changes impact the way that information is processed in order influence future decisions.

The trick for businesses offering content writing services is to capture the attention of the ever-busy reader, then somehow maintain their engagement for as long as it takes to not only absorb the vital messages, but engage with them in a way that drives action. But how can you grab somebody who’s always on the run, constantly switching between social networking platforms, and focused on quick wins?

  1. Follow the ‘F principle’

It’s no longer acceptable to only compose and create content based on what appears most aesthetically pleasing, or what feels right. Basically, based on human nature and our natural inclination to now do and complete as much as possible within short periods of time, skim reading has evolved to a whole new level.

The ‘F rule’ acknowledges that most people now read online materials in an F-shape. This means content creators need to concentrate on putting their most crucial content and messages into the top of a page, and make it simple for readers to consume the secondary messages by then skimming across the left-hand side. Strong starts to paragraphs, sub-heading and strategically placed graphics or imagery will all go a long way in getting a story across and absorbed efficiently by the crowd.

  1. To write right is to write for you

There’s a very simple trick to putting yourself in your readers’ shoes: compose for you. Keep vigilant on wording, length, complexity and tone.

When content creators find themselves unsure of where to begin or how to make a message compelling for a specific audience, the best way to kick-off the practice is to start writing what you want to read yourself, and then take time to reflect and refine the work from there.

Writing for yourself also means that the digital content will be fresher and more unique than if you started attempting to entertain or even imitate those around you, you will also generate a distinct voice that will be favourable for your brand in the long term.

  1. Say goodbye to cluttered layouts

As well as abiding by the ‘F Principle’, content creators should always consider the way the audience will consume the message presented, and the way that user experience will influence their interpretation of this report.

An illustration of this is by simplifying the content by spreading it out across the screen, and keeping in mind basic rules like good paragraph structure.

Videos and GIFs can be unintentionally distracting, particularly when they start playing before the user has clicked on it, or when they’re embedded awkwardly within the web page. It may seem easy, but putting this small decision back in the hands of the reader will limit annoyance and increase overall engagement with the content.

There’s a science to making digital content reader-friendly. Luckily, that science does not involve huge spends or complicated design principles.

By getting familiar with the ‘F Principle,’ learning to empathise with your reader, and de-cluttering, electronic content will improve and optimise almost instantly. The outcome will be an engaged audience and appealing web space that keeps readers coming back for more.