by Nancy Seeger | Featured Contributor
You spend oodles of time making sure your blog post content is valuable and something your readers appreciate. But are you getting results? Is the format style easily readable? These tips will help.
The presentation of your text and images could be scaring your readers away. I recently experienced this when I clicked a link to a recommended article. The fonts were tiny and the featured image looked unprofessional. I immediately assumed this was not a trustworthy source so I didn’t stick around. Don’t let this happen to you!
Follow these tips to keep people on your page and eager for more!
What Readers LOVE
First Impressions Count and So Do the Images
- Quality photography or illustrations. Great images engage and establish authority. Poor images may send them scurrying away. Spend time and money getting the right ones.
- Full-width images. Have your main headliner image expand the full horizontal width of your blog post content area for a sophisticated look. Think rectangle. Pictures smaller than 1/3 of the width of a blog post look unbalanced and don’t flow with the text.
Text Styling to Draw Readers Down the Page
- Large Subtitles. Your blog post isn’t a book chapter with one title. Keep them moving down the page with large subtitles utilizing your h2-h5 HTML tags (I’m referring to your headings in the WordPress dashboard). Frequent mistakes I see, i.e. using a paragraph and just bolding it for a title, don’t help your SEO or look as effective.
- Show Them What’s Next (subtitles). Use multiple subtitles throughout the post to announce the subject of upcoming paragraphs. This helps draw the eye down the page visually.
- Lists! Readers skim, so lists and bullet points are helpful. Use the HTML list tag to your advantage (bulleted or number list icon in WP dashboard). Each list item should be about one to three sentences so it’s easy to get information quickly.
- Large font sizes. Paragraphs of tiny text scream “this is an OLD website!” Remember when 12 pixels was the bee’s knees? That was the standard of the last decade. Now you need 16 to 18 pixels minimum or many will leave frustrated.
Stuff that Drives Your Readers Batty
First Impression Fail – Images
- Unprofessional or overused images. Heavily used or poor quality stock images lessen credibility. Stay classy.
- Going border happy. Resist the urge to place a border around your image; your image IS the box. “Heavy eyeliner” makes it look dated.
- Excessive wording in an image. Wording in an image doesn’t get picked up by Google, and it’s the equivalent of a loud salesman. Moreover, most will be unreadable for your mobile audience.
- Aligning images to the left. We are left-to-right readers. Left-aligned images interrupt the flow and don’t look great on mobile devices.
Text Styling That Doesn’t Make the Grade
- Lots of paragraphs. A blog post is not a dissertation; lots of long paragraphs equals… ciao, baby! Your readers are busy, so keep things brief and to the point.
- Links that open in a new tab. If a link is staying within a website, don’t have it open in a new tab. Your more savvy users prefer to decide for themselves when to open a new tab. It’s also easier for those who tend to use the back button.
- Underlines that go nowhere. Underlines mean one thing on a web page – links! Don’t underline text, this is not Microsoft Word and it will only confuse people.
- Bulleted and numbered lists that look like a giant paragraph. If your theme does not already have this, add a full line between list items. It creates more white space, making it easier to read.
- Multiple fonts and colors. New colors and fonts OUTSIDE your theme styling should be rare. Introducing more – looks disorganized. Stick with the style set by your website theme.
Most of all, keep it neat with plenty of white space so your readers will hang on till the very last word!
Want more text styling tips? Check out my list of dos and don’ts to make readers uber happy.
Do you have a post styling tip that works for you or have any questions? Leave a comment.
Nancy Seeger – Web Designer for the Performing Arts and Regular Folks
Nancy Seeger is based just outside of Washington DC in Virginia but still thinks of Michigan, her birth state, as home.
For Nancy, it has always been about the audience. First as a professional musician, then as an orchestra manager learning how to engage the public with marketing campaigns, even when websites were still considered optional.
After leaving orchestras, Nancy realized her passion for web design. She spent two years taking classes to hone her skills while working with her first client, a GRAMMY artist. Currently Nancy’s web design firm, Arts Assistance, creates sites for a variety of industries. Nancy believes it’s about connecting with the audience and blogs weekly, sharing website tips for businesses. She is a strong advocate of design as part of the marketing toolkit.
When not buried in Photoshop or code, Ms. Seeger thinks being green is buying a fancy espresso machine to cut out daily trips to Starbucks. Because she can’t live on espresso alone, she also loves drinking green smoothies (with her latté of course). Is there any better way to start the day?