Everyone likes to talk about what they know, and you probably know plenty about your business. This makes the prospect of creating and maintaining a blog not only possible, but also desirable, especially considering the benefits to be gained by doing so.
The problem is that your readers may not have the same industry knowledge as you. On the one hand, this gives you the opportunity to establish your authority in your field and add value for customers and prospective patrons. On the other hand, your content could end up being too difficult for your audience to read and understand if you’re not careful.
Readability, or the ease with which your content can be read, revolves around both the text of your blog posts and how you present them visually. There are a number of factors that can impact the readability of your blog. When you know what the do’s and don’t are, though, you can definitely keep a blog that will keep your readers coming back for more.
If you fear that your blog is not as accessible as you would like, you’re having a hard time enticing followers, or your audience has voiced outright displeasure, you can take steps to make your posts more readable. Here are a few elements to consider.
Avoid Bulky Blocks of Text
When you navigate to a blog and you see a page full of dense, cramped text, you probably heave an inward sigh of displeasure. It looks intimidating, time consuming, and generally unappealing. Your blog readers will feel the same way when presented with bulky blocks of text.
There are plenty of ways to increase the visual interest of your posts, though. You can start by increasing the white space on your pages. The easiest way to do this is to find various ways to break up your text.
You could, for example, use short paragraph structure. This means utilizing no more than 2-3 sentences per paragraph. At the very least, you should limit yourself to no more than 4-5 sentences per paragraph.
You can also break up text and add white space by inserting section headings, numbered lists, bullet points, and so on. Plus, you should always try to add graphics if at all possible. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the message you convey with a graphic can draw readers in and enhance your copy.
The font you choose can add to or detract from readability, as can the spacing, kerning (spacing between letters), and other features you select. You should start by understanding the difference between serif and sans serif fonts.
The former has decorative embellishments added to the edges of characters – little lines that hang off the ends and add visual flourish. This type of font is easier to read in print. On a computer monitor or other digital format, however, sans serif fonts are much easier to read.
You can certainly elect to use serif fonts if you want, but it could detract from overall readability, from a purely practical standpoint. Don’t forget to adjust spacing and kerning to achieve optimal readability.
Layout and Design
The way you lay out pages, pair colors and fonts, and generally arrange your pages in a visual sense will have a major impact on the impression you make on readers, as well as their ability to digest your blog posts. If you have no experience with layout and design and you doubt your capability when it comes to designing your blog pages, get professional help.
Web developers are trained to create a visual layout and design that is artistically appealing to viewers, and they can teach you how to create blog layouts that are both attractive and improve overall readability.
Optimize for Mobile
Nobody wants to have to adjust page sizing on a phone or tablet in order to read text. Nor do they want to waste time scrolling both side to side and up and down to read a passage. With so many people getting content on the go via mobile devices these days, it really pays to optimize your pages for mobile usage.
Dumb it Down
Sure, you understand all of the industry-specific lingo and acronyms you use on your blog, and most people who operate within your industry will understand, as well. However, the language you use may baffle the laymen in your audience, which could include a huge chunk of your customer base.
You don’t want to lose the interest of readers and limit your audience by using language that is too specific or sophisticated – you want content to be accessible to a wide audience. These, days, that means writing for about a 6th or 7th grade reading level.
It sounds a bit demeaning, but consider that not all of your readers are college graduates. Some of them may not speak English as a first language. If you want to write for your readers, you need to consider their reading level.
If you’re not sure how to make your content more readable, you can run it through a variety of accessibility tools designed to tell you how readable your copy is or what grade level it’s suited for. A few tools you might want to try are: the SMOG Readability Formula, the Coleman-Liau Index, the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test, and the Automated Readability Index. You can find free calculators for all of these online.
Cut Superfluous Words
When you’re trying to maintain word count, it’s tempting to add in filler. This is a mistake. Not only are you wasting reader time and probably annoying your followers in the process, but you’re also needlessly cluttering up your content and making it less readable.
Here’s an example. The sentence, “There are many ways in which you could make your content more readable,” could be cut to read, “You could make content more readable”. There’s something to be said for imaginative prose, but don’t mistake filler for colorful writing.
Consider Alternative Formats
If you want to build blog readership, encourage sharing, and generally make your content more accessible, think about cutting the copy altogether. You could try infographics as a means of conveying information in visually appealing, bite-size tidbits. Or you could use video formats as an alternative.
Improving the readability of blog content focuses on both written and visual elements, but keep in mind that the internet is largely a visual format. Consider what you stand to gain by playing to that strength with more visual content.