You’re probably not going to read every word of this post. I don’t expect you to. Really, if you’ve read every word so far, we’re off to an amazing start! But, that’s just not the way we consume web content anymore. We investigate to see if it’s worth our while first. In fact, a lot of people have probably already started skimming and are halfway down this page by now.
But, just in case your still here, or you liked what you saw and came back, I’ll keep going…
Before we dig in, I want to you to try an experiment.
Quickly find two or three random blog posts (it will work better if you don’t choose from a blog you know you like already). Without reading anything carefully, just scroll to the end and back, quickly scanning the content.
Now, ask yourself how you feel about actually going back and reading those posts. Do you feel overwhelmed? Did the blog seem boring at a glance? Did some visual components jump out and make you interested? Did you immediately get a feel for what you were going to get if you read it? Most importantly, did you feel like there was value in the post, and, if so, how easy was it to find?
The lesson is, your blog needs to be scannable. This is one of those “never get a second chance to make a first impression” kind of deals. If your visitors glance at the blog and it looks boring, they’re headed for the back button as fast as the cursor will take them.
So how exactly can you visually spice up your boring looking blog to get your points across to skimmers and turn them into readers? Let’s take a look:
Cover Basic Visual Best Practices
Most importantly, the way you design your blog on the page has to be easily readable. Make sure the font is easy on the eyes and big enough to read. Use a light background and dark text (dark backgrounds with light text can be straining to read).
Keep in mind that a good portion of your visitors are going to be viewing your blog on a mobile device, so you’ll want to be sure your site is optimized for mobile. Again, use a font that’s big enough to read on a small screen. Also, test that your buttons are big enough to press without pinpoint accuracy on mobile.
Use Big, Bold Subheaders to Divide and Organize the Content
There are probably going to be some things your audience already knows about or really doesn’t care about. Subheaders provide a nice road map for your post.
Using these subheaders will let people quickly get to the parts of the post that will be useful for them. They also allow them to skim over or even skip the sections they are already familiar with or aren’t interested in.
Use Visual Elements to Break Up Text and Emphasize Key Points
If we assume people are going to be skimming, at least at first, we need to emphasize the key points so they stand out and get noticed. So what are some of the ways you can do that? Bolding sentences within paragraphs is an effective way to make a point stand out.
Long stretches of paragraph after paragraph of text look boring. Use a picture or GIF to break up the text and give your readers a break. This a great place to insert a little comic relief, assuming humor fits with your post.
If your readers are getting this excited, you’re winning.
[GIF found at: http://gph.is/1eUfBfT]
Likewise, mini-infographics, tables, or charts work well to visually represent information in an appealing way.
Varying the way you present written text can also help break up the monotony of sentences and paragraphs.
Use bullet lists to emphasize key points (like why you should use bullet lists). They can:
- Break up long blocks of text for a more visually appealing blog
- Draw the eye of the scanner/skimmer cruising through your post
- Emphasize important points of the blog where they’re more likely to be seen
Embedding a Tweet is another great way to spice up a blog and present important info that’s easily shareable. Check this out:
— Lab3 Marketing (@Lab3Marketing) July 12, 2015
See what I mean? Also, when you embed tweets, they still have working links to favorite, retweet or even follow the account. Don’t believe me? Try following Lab3 from the above Tweet. Seriously, try it. Did you try it?
Keep Sentences and Paragraphs Short
If your blog looks hard to read at a glance, most people won’t even try. White space is your friend.
Blogs that have huge chunks of text without paragraph breaks are almost scary. They look extremely tedious to read before you even start.
Don’t be afraid to have a one-sentence paragraph if it works in the context of the post.
*Bonus Tip: I was going to add some text to this section to beef it up. But sometimes if you can say something important quickly, it’s best to just say it and shut up.
Pulling it All Together
So you made it to the conclusion. That’s awesome, even if you just skimmed here!
Either way, the point of this post, just in case you skimmed past it, is to get your message across to the skimmer/scanner using the visual elements of your blog.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to see what this post would read like if you only saw the purposefully highlighted portions. Let’s apply what we’ve learned and put it in a bullet list:
- Your blog looks boring but there’s something you can do about it
- I know you probably won’t/didn’t read every word of this post
- (There’s an experiment I want you to try)
- Your blog needs to be scannable
- Use basic visual best practices
- Be sure your site is optimized for mobile
- Use big, bold subheaders to divide and organize the content
- Use visual elements to break up text and emphasize key points
- Bolding sentences within paragraphs is an effective way to make a point stand out
- Use a picture or GIF to break up the text and give your readers a break
- Use a bullet lists to emphasize key points (like why you should use bullet lists)
- Embedding a Tweet is a great way to present important info that’s easily shareable
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short
- White space is your friend
And that’s it. That’s essentially everything I had hoped to communicate to you. Hopefully by this point I was successful!
Are there any of these techniques that you’ll be applying to your future posts? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!