Content is king. However, it doesn’t matter how great your content is if it’s difficult to find and read. How many of you have visited a blog only to find the content buried away in small print under a cascade of flashing banner ads? How about seeing a great opening paragraph of an article only to get tired after reading a wall of text? Or seeing a color scheme that just hurts your eyes?
This last month, I’ve been making a study and putting into practice different techniques to try and make content look more attractive and readable.
There are a lot of ways to make your writing easier to read for your blog visitor. I’ve researched a few ways to simply improve readability.
Your Blog’s Theme
One of the first places to start with improving your content’s readability is with your blog’s theme. Different themes have different purposes. If you want to draw more attention to your content, you want a theme designed to suit that purpose.
Look for a theme that gives you plenty of space for your content. You want a good sized content area, so that your reader’s attention is focused in that area. Some themes come with a large variety of widget areas, make use of those areas wisely. You don’t need to fill up every available space with banner ads. That can detract from your content area. Find a good balance.
Look for a good color scheme you want a design that draws the eye to your content area. Pick your colors accordingly. Bright pastel colors can draw attention, so you want them placed correctly. At the same time, you don’t want people to strain their eyes reading your content as well, so make sure that your content area has a color pattern that’s easy on the eyes.
It’s important to have good contrast between the color of your writing and the background. The general rule is the more contrast you have, the easier it is to read the characters. That’s why black on white is one of the best choices when picking a font and background color combination.
Quite often, when picking a blog’s theme, the color combination of the font and background is an afterthought. If you want your content to be the main focus of your blog, make this decision a priority.
Picking the Right Font
This may seem obvious, but there is some nuance to picking the right font. You want to stick with the popular, easy to read font faces. Usually, the arial style fonts have traditionally been the easiest to read.
Stay away from the stylistic fonts. Calligraphy and handwriting look nice in certain spots, but you don’t want all your content to be written that way as it would be harder to read. (Note: I do have the first letter of my paragraphs in handwriting font to add a bit of style as well as catch the eye) I think used sparingly for style can work, but overall stick witht he standard fonts.
The other reason that many may not think of to stick with the common fonts is that not all browsers support the same fonts. You want your blog to look the same way to your different visitors. You’ll find that you’ll get visitors that use different web browsers, generally internet explorer, chrome, and firefox, as well as mobile browsers.
As it turns out there are a lot of fonts that are not supported by all three browsers. So, you’ll find that if you pick an obscure font it may turn out funny when you visit your site using a different web browser.
The most common fonts are the ones that you want to stick with you ensure the best cross browser support: Arial, geneva, verdana, etc… Beyond the common fonts and you may run into problems with the look and style of your content.
Make Your Content a Good Size
Check your theme’s settings and make sure that your font is a good size. Smaller font sizes are harder to read. In particular, I feel like the computer screen makes it that much more difficult, so I like to size my fonts just a little bigger than normal. The standard font size is generally between 13-14 pt. I set mine just a bit larger at 15 pt. I would say that’s a good size. Larger than that and the letters are too big and look almost cartoonish.
I find that most themes set their font size between 13-14pt, so if you want to make your font stye bigger, you’ll need to edit your style sheet. It’s actually quite easy to change. Just go into your wordpress editor and select style.css to edit. First make a copy of all the text and save it locally to your computer.
Then go through your style.css file and look for the settings that deal with your post content. It should be under a setting labeled entry-content or something similar. You’ll see a setting for font size. Just change it to your desired setting and save the file. You can check your blog to see if it made the desired change correctly.
Make Your Content Spaced Out Well.
Just like your font size, you also want your line spacing to be correct as well. You don’t want your text to be all squished together or it would be hard to read. This is the same rule most people follow when writing in a word processor program. Generally, they will double space their paragraphs to make it easier to read.
If you do that for a report that you’re writing for your boss or a term paper that you’re turning in for your professor, you ought to do the same for your blog readers.
After all, they are grading your blog, just as a professor would grade a term paper. Space out your writing just a bit to make each sentence easier to read and distinguish.
You can find the settings for line spacing in the same area as the font size.
On a blog, I do find that double spacing is just a bit too spread out. You’ll want to adjust the spacing to somewhere in the range of 1.5px. That range seems to be optimal for a blog’s readability.
Make Smaller Paragraphs
Beyond the actual style of your blog, your writing style makes a big difference in readability as well.
Unfortunately, long paragraphs just don’t look good on a blog. Part of that has to do with the smaller columns. A paragraph looks longer than it actually is. When your paragraph gets longer than 3-4 sentences you start to get a wall of text effect.
The end result is that it gets harder to read as it feels like your paragraphs are all blending together. As it turns out, blog writing is it’s own unique style.
You can’t write the same way they teach you in school with a thesis sentence, 3-4 supporting sentences and then a conclusion. The paragraphs get too long. On a blog, you need to use a different writing technique with smaller paragraphs to ensure readability.
Try to shoot for 1-2 supporting sentences int he main body of your paragraph. You’ll get to the point faster and cut down on the length of your paragraph. If you need to write more, you can actually break up your paragraph with the use of images. As they give your readers something to see besides the text.
Make Use of Headers
This is another technique that you see most often on a blog, but not in traditional writing. That is the use of headers.
The use of headers is not just an SEO technique. You want to use headers for a more important reason, which is to make your content easier to read.
Your headers tell your audience exactly what to look for in that particular section of the blog article. It breaks up your article into smaller bite sized sections for your readers and improves the overall readability of the article.
Use your headers almost the same way you might use a thesis sentence to start off a paragraph. In each subsection of your article, start it off with a header sentence of phrase that tells the reader the topic of that subsection. Use a larger font size for the headers so that they stand out in each section.
This way, each section of your article is clearly marked out and it has a secondary effect of breaking up that wall of text.
Each of these techniques is personal to the blog. There are a variety of different styles of blogs and you need to pick the style that best suits you. Some blogs don’t need to focus on individual articles as much, whereas other blogs like to create more focus on their widget areas. However, if you are looking to emphasize your content more, these tips will help out greatly.