Five formatting tips to turbocharge your web text

Updated: Jan 31

Five simple formatting tips to make your website easy to read, user-friendly and ready to convert.

Can bullet points help convert visitors into customers? Can writing less mean you sell more? Is shorter really sweeter?


Yes, yes and yes.


Writing for the web is a specific skill. And sometimes it seems to go against what you'd expect.


But master it and your website will become a lean, clean, sales machine.


Psst... people aren't paying attention


The attention span of someone looking at your website is just seconds. They come, they scan. And they leave very quickly if they don't find what they need.


Your aim is to make it as easy as possible for them to find the information they need.

If you don't, they'll leave. And so will your chance of turning their interest into action...buying your stuff, booking your services or donating to your cause.


Here are my five top tips to improve your website performance without having to think about anything vaguely technical.


1. Bullets


Leave the blocks to lego. Break things up to make your text easier to scan and to make it easier for readers to realise they've found what they need.


Don't bank on people reading through your text to find your key selling points or product features. Make them stand out.


But don't be tempted to just bullet point everything. Bulleted lists are only effective if they are:


  • short

  • snappy

  • to the point


2. Plain English


People's ability to understand and process information goes down when they're reading online.


And down even further when reading on mobile, which accounts for about 50% of web traffic.

So writing in plain English that's easy to understand is incredibly important.


Don't be tempted to use fancy pants big words to impress people. It'll make your website harder to use and send visitors searching somewhere else.


3. Subheadings


Subheadings are the signposts that guide people through your text.


They jump out of the page and say 'Hello, you're in the right place. This way to what you're looking for'.


If you don't use these signposts, your visitors will quickly get lost and leave your site.


Break up your pages with subheaders that accurately describe the content of the next few paragraphs.


The best subheaders are:

  • short (aim for five words or fewer)

  • easy to read (no big words or silly fonts)

  • have the keywords at the start

Why keywords at the start? Because humans scan web copy in an 'F' pattern, checking out the headline first and then looking at the start of each subheader to orientate themselves.


So a good example is:

Subheaders and how to use them


A bad example is:

Mastering the magical art of writing a wonderful subheading


Try to keep your header styling consistent too. A reader should be able to understand the priority of different headers at a glance.


Most web content management systems will have a hierarchy of header styles - eg Heading 1, Heading 2, Paragraph 1, Paragraph 2 - to help you maintain the same formatting throughout your site.


4. Paragraphs


Paragraphs are a block of text that contain a complete thought. In print, they can be pretty long. Ten sentences or more.


But online they need to be shorter. Think one or two sentences max. Because a huge block of text - especially on mobile devices - is enough to put readers off.


Shorter paragraphs encourage readers to tackle your content, as well as help them scan text and spot your key points.


It also puts plenty of white space around your text, which makes it easier to read and improves comprehension.


5. Bold


Want to make your key selling points jump off the page? You can.


Using bold text to highlight important information can help the reader find facts quickly. Occasional use of CAPS for emphasis can be effective too.


But you should use it sparingly.


Bold text draws the eye exactly because it is unusual. If your page is full of bold text it is counterproductive.


Pack your text with it and no-one will know where to look. But use it to highlight key points and you'll get attention for all the right reasons.


 

And there you have it. Five top tips to boost your website performance without any technical trickery.


Inspired to improve your web copy but not sure how to start? I can help. Email hello@writeontyne.com to start the ball rolling.


 

About the author


Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer. After 15+ years in marketing and communications, she escaped the 9 to 5 and started Write on Tyne.


Write on Tyne is a small content and copywriting agency dedicated to making marketing managers' lives easier. We provide top-notch copy for campaigns, content marketing, and websites - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.


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