Posted on 18th February 2019

How to make your website content relevant and easy to read

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There’s plenty of advice out there on content marketing and website design, but the intersection of the two is less-discussed. In this article we’re going to look at some best practices for formatting web content to ensure it is readable, accessible and relevant for your website visitors.

Watch our video below to run through these ideas:

Typography – getting it right

Text on the web is so easy to get wrong. Typography is an art, and I make no claims to be an expert on this subject but there are a few principles that should be observed in order to make sure your website text (sometimes referred to as “copy”) is fit for purpose.

Make sure website text is big enough

Partially-sighted visitors can increase text size if they wish; all modern browsers support this functionality, but it’s just good practice to make sure that text is a reasonable size. Visit the BBC, New York Times or Medium and you’ll find font sizes at least 16px in size for main article text. Preference varies by demographic, but to avoid the need to test with your particular audience, observe the advice of Jakob Nielsen, a veteran web usability specialist — “tiny text dooms legibility”.

Users won’t read web content unless the text is clear, the words and sentences are simple, and the information is easy to understand. 

Jakob Nielsen, web usability consultant

Choose colours wisely

Much can be discussed about colour choice in web design. Different audiences have different needs, but as usual basic principles can be observed.

  • Avoid colours that look similar, instead opting for clear contrast
  • Have a basic understanding of colour psychology
  • Consider the needs of your audience in particular (for example, use low arousal colours when designing for people with autism)

Don’t let lines of text go on and on and on and…

Have you ever read a piece of text where the line length seems to go on forever, and when you go back to the start to read the next line your eye doesn’t quite goto the right place? For ease of reading, ensure short lines of text on your website. It is recommended to use no more than 60 characters per line. This also creates the psychological affect of reading quicker, as readers move down the page at speed.

Make sure headings are different to body text

This article, for example, can be skim-read because it is broken up into distinct sections separated by clearly different fonts. Ensure that headings are different to body text by choosing a different font typeface, and differing by size and/or colour. Classic advice is to combine Serif and Sans Serif typefaces to ensure suitable differences.

Have a housekeeping strategy

Admittedly the term “housekeeping strategy” sounds quite involved, but it doesn’t need to be. Over time, your website content will degrade as content becomes out of date or irrelevant. FAQ pages don’t get updated, profiles for ex-staff members remain for months after their departure and phone numbers don’t get updated.

Make a point to audit your website content on a monthly or quarterly basis to keep on top of the changes within your organisation. This way, you’ll be sure to give your website visitors the information they need, and the best possible experience when viewing your website.