How to make long pages readable

Posted by JD Collier on January 13, 2012

I recently talked about tearing down the wall of words. In that post, we talked about ways to reduce your content; this week, I want to talk about ways to improve the readability of your web page when it needs to be long. Let's talk about things you can do to make the user experience a better one.

Be careful where the long content lives

Your homepage is no place for long content. Compare navigating through your website to wading into the ocean: each step takes you a little deeper. Each link your customer clicks is one more level of "permission" your customer has given you to provide more detail. Three pages down into your website, if I click a link asking for the product features, then go ahead and give them to me (example from box.com).

Approaches to long content

So your longer content is appropriately located on your site and your customer has clicked a link asking for details. By all means, give them details — but even here, there shouldn't be a wall of words.

  • Break long paragraphs into multiple paragraphs. Sometimes this little step can really help.
  • Break things into bullet points. Lists are scannable and make content seem easier.
  • Use graphics!
    • Is there a subtle icon you can use for each bullet point to illuminate the topic of the bullet point?
    • Is there a photo or illustration that can create visual interest?
  • Use headings. A good heading allows a reader to jump to the portion they need and makes the overall page better organized.
  • Bold key points (sparingly) in your paragraphs.
  • Consider using a larger font size. Just one notch larger can enhance your page. (Proof here and here.)

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