Why Scannable Content Wins: 5 Tips to Make Your Content More Scannable

March 19, 2015
By Forge and Smith

Hello! We have a newer article on this topic. Check out 3 Tools to Improve Your Content’s Readability

When it comes to online content, there are two myths that seem to inhibit content creators online: people don’t like to read anymore and online text should be simple.

Here’s the reality: Your audience has become infinitely more selective. Because of this, your audience needs to be first and foremost when you approach your content.

Why Scannable Content Wins

The bottom line is this: people love to engage with written content, probably more deeply than ever before, and despite numerous proclamations to the contrary, people are still willing to read, especially about subjects that hold appeal for them. Websites don’t need to dumb down the quality of their text to entice a reader; what they do require is carefully curated content that has a clear visual hierarchy. Scannable content intuitively draws the reader in, meaning your audience will invest time and stick around.

Scannable content is your visual pitch to the prospective reader. Your reader’s time is at a premium in our attention-based economy. Never forget the digital realm is vast, wide and deep.

Five ways to make your content more scannable

1. Start off strong and then deliver

Whether it’s a clever premise, proposed solution, or a question put forth, the material needs to live up to its initial promise. Stay on topic and cut to the chase. Keep audience needs and expectations in mind at all times.

2. Make it loud, make it clear: include good headlines and subheadings

Smart headlines and headings not only establish the subject matter, they also set the tone. Clearly defining what the article is about from the onset assists both the writer and audience.

3. Chunk it

Group like content into manageable pieces. Don’t write a long letter because you didn’t have time to write a short one. Refining ideas on a single topic is just one part of the writer’s job. So too is organizing the text in a logical way. Bundling the essential elements into readable chunks aids the reader in their retention of your message. Being mindful of text spacing and avoiding excess description isn’t just a mobile-minded approach, it’s about following good writing practices in general.

4. Excite and delight: be bold and mix it up

Make sure the writing pops. Generate thoughtful content and be sure to accent it by highlighting key words and phrases with bolded fonts, italics and font sizing. Related imagery like pictures and graphics also garner attention. If you don’t want your audience to bounce away, you have to give them something to grasp onto. Strong content and visual variety usually does the trick.

5. Lists are your best friend

Need to get a lot of information across quickly? Want to make sure people actually read key information? List it. Draw attention to your ideas and single out your main points by featuring them prominently. Create a visual hierarchy for your audience to follow.

Chances are, if a visitor discovers your website, they want to be invited in. Make your content so clear and appealing that your audience won’t be able to resist your invitation. Scannable content does this, and it never loses its appeal.

High-quality web content that’s useful, usable, and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online.  ― Kristina Halvorson

Forge and Smith

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