In the digital world, especially when you’re getting started, first impressions of your website matter immensely. A bad first impression, often due to poor speed or readability, may easily cost you a customer. To help you address this, here are our tips to improve your website readability.
What is readability?
First, because the term is often misunderstood, let us briefly distinguish. Marketing-wise, there are two types of readability one may refer to:
- Page readability – Otherwise known as copy readability, this type refers to copy-related qualities. It gauges how clear your phrasing is, how easy your copy is to comprehend, etc.
- Website readability – Conversely, this type refers to general web design qualities. It gauges how easy your design is on the eyes, how much room it leaves for copy and actionable visual elements, etc.
Both are, in many ways, parts of the ABCs of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Here, for the sake of text economy, we’ll specifically be focusing on the latter.
7 ways to improve your website readability
With that covered, let us delve into which factors can enhance your website readability. In no particular order, here are our 7 picks.
Your font of choice is crucial toward ensuring readability. Bold, highly readable ones are always preferable to quirky, experimental ones. Size-wise, you may opt for 14px to 16px, depending on your style and layout.
Your mobile visitors will be particularly thankful for both, and you must cater to this demographic. Mobile traffic now surpasses desktop traffic globally, and SEO prioritizes mobile friendliness in turn.
#2 Headings and subheadings
Headings and subheadings also help break up your content into more digestible sections. They allow visitors to scan through longer texts and find the information they seek more easily.
What’s more, they hold real value regarding SEO as well; they improve the User Experience (UX), pronounce your keywords, and even contextualize your content’s subjects for search engines.
To monitor how your visitors scan your content and cater to their habits, you may use such solutions as website heat maps.
#3 Bullet points
Similarly, bullet points also help break down longer content. They consolidate your points down to their basics and help list multiple parts of them concisely. This makes them an ideal formatting tool for such content as step-by-step guides and tutorials.
Finally, as a by-product, they also introduce white space to a page, further easing its content on the eyes. In brief, bullet points are among the easiest, most effective ways to improve your website readability.
#4 White space
Having touched on it, white space is a crucial component of readability.
White space comes in two distinct forms; micro white space, which is found between lines and paragraphs, and macro white space, which is found between larger layout elements like images. Your font and style choices will affect the former, while such formatting choices as bullet points and layout will inform the latter.
If you would like to know more about white space, Interaction Design Foundation has an excellent article on it here.
#5 Line length
On to a factor that primarily affects desktop users, not mobile ones, line length also plays a key role. Where mobile users have less screen real estate by default, desktop users have ample. In turn, it’s easy for long sentences to strain their eyes and discourage them.
You may limit your line length and let white space frame them more pleasantly to address this. The oft-cited rule on exact length is to opt for 45-80 characters, give or take, but the actual number should depend on your own analytics.
#6 Sentences and paragraphs
On the subject of copy length and size, your sentences and paragraphs’ size matters as well.
A common rule of thumb is to opt for sentences no longer than 20 words, which SEOs agree with. Paragraph-wise, many advise that you limit paragraphs to about four lines at most.
These guidelines can improve your website readability, but they should apply on a case-by-case basis. For example, content with ample bullet lists and images may not need this structure to satisfy your users. Your general design and layout may also already produce enough white space, and your audiences may simply prefer long blocks.
As above, your audience insights will offer the most reliable answers.
Finally, images also serve as an excellent way to break up long content and make it more digestible. Strong visuals evoke emotions more efficiently, and relevant ones introduce another layer of value for your readers. They also produce more white space on your pages, which yields readability benefits.
However, they may not always be needed in cases where content is readable enough, and your audiences can do without. Moreover, you should also mind their impact on UX and page performance:
- Quantity – For readability benefits, most SEOs will suggest using one image for every 150-250 words of text. However, for longer content, this may impact loading speeds – which Google finds are crucial.
- Size – Individual image file size also directly impacts loading speeds, especially in large quantities. Keep your image file size to 100kB or lower, if possible, without compromising quality.
- Contextual value – Finally, their readability benefits aside, images should add value for readers. You may thus avoid stock images unless your audience insights say otherwise.
To conclude, in the digital age, first impressions matter more than ever before – as Google illustrates just above. It is thus crucial that you improve your website readability to make a stellar first impression. While brief, our tips above hopefully helped you do so effectively.
If you want to know more about web design, read our article, “2022 Web Page Design Trends For Small Business”, or contact us.
This article has been contributed by freelance writer and SEO consultant, Andy Castro. He is passionate about planning, implementing, and improving his clients’ business strategies, and he also likes sharing his expertise in his articles. When he is not behind his keyboard, you can find him tending to his plants with his three-year-old son.
Tags: small business website improvement suggestions