Special Web feature

National Driller August 2005 e-Newsletter

The content of your Web site should be written with readability in mind. Those who provide written content that does not reflect an understanding of Internet readability research are losing an opportunity to have their message heard more often and more clearly.

Studies demonstrate that the Internet poses very particular challenges and opportunities with respect to how information is actually read.

There are many elements of readability that require consideration.

Font choices (both in size and actual font) can have an impact on readability. For instance, research has demonstrated that fonts lacking serifs outperform fonts with serifs. This revelation runs contrary to the long-held understanding that fonts utilizing serifs speed-reading.

Previous research was conducted on traditional page reading. An examination of readability specific to computers reached opposite conclusions. This underlines the importance of understanding readability specifically in terms of computer and Internet use.

Color choices, column widths, page organization and other features all are being examined as new research regarding Web readability is conducted. Anyone hoping to be successful with a content-rich site must keep abreast of new studies and their conclusions.

There are other considerations particular to writing content. Of course, all potentially visible grammatical and spelling errors must be avoided. Content providers should understand “scannability” and the scanning habits of Internet users. They also should be fully aware of the structure types that aid in readability and encourage visitor examination.

Content should be written in an appropriate contextual voice. Marketing-heavy language requires additional cognitive processing burdens on a reader, reducing its effectiveness. Those who tailor their messages in concise, objective language at an appropriate reading level for their audience can achieve a better response.

Although achieving an understanding of content readability requires time and research, it is necessary for those who want to maximize their content's value to readers. Even great writers need to acquaint themselves with new research and study regarding readability.