Textual Overload

When I look at a blog, or any online content, I scan for headlines and images. If neither of these interest me, I skip the article completely rather than hurting my eyes scanning the content to see if it’s worth my time. What most blogs get wrong is that instead of using images to catch your eye and headlines to summarise their post, they use dull headlines and blocks of text with no whitespace in the mistaken belief that what they’re saying is so important that you will read it even though it hurts your eyes and brain trying to parse it.Forget about everything you learnt in school about having one idea to a paragraph. When we’re reading on the web, we’re probably busy doing five other things at once, and if there is plenty of whitespace in your post there’s more chance we’ll read your entire post as we can mentally bookmark our position when we get interrupted.Images improve the chances of your article being read by about five times. This isn’t based on any extensive research, this is based on my own behaviour which is probably fairly average as I tend to be more of a kinesthetic and logical than visual thinker. There are so many tools available for image manipulation that there really is no excuse for not using images in your posts. Look at newspapers and magazines, are you more likely to read an article with an interesting image or one that is just a solid block of text? Putting some thought into your headlines may seem like a waste of time if people are going to read your post anyway, but a headline like “Technology Problem” with no images is way too generic to get me to read the article. Think what sentence you’d use to tell someone on the street about your article, and use that as the headline if you can’t think of something shorter.You don’t need a degree to lay out content well, you just need to steal ideas from people and companies that get paid to do it.

2005.08.29