Web users tend to scan content (usually in an “F” pattern) rather than read it word-by-word. So we must present the most pertinent information where they’re most likely to see it: right at the beginning.
Last week, I touched on how this principle applies to Title Tags. But really, it applies just about everywhere:
- Main Navigation
- Secondary Navigation
- Product Categories and Subcategories
- Menu Items
- Title Tags
- Page Titles
- Headline and Subheads
- Bullet Points
- First sentences of paragraphs
- Inline Links
Below are several tips on how to make your meaning clear to users in the fewest possible words.
Zero in on the first 1-3 Words
Assume readers will only see the first couple of words — or first 10-15 characters. Will they be able to understand what you’re writing about?
For utmost clarity, put the most descriptive words first. For example, compare these headlines:
- Announcing Our Latest Smartphone Offerings
- Smartphones – New Releases
Use numerals rather than spelling out numbers
To save space and to speed user understanding, it’s usually better to use numbers rather than words. For example, compare:
- Top Twenty-Five Smartphones
- Top 25 Smartphones
Grab attention with action or user-centered words
Long, vague words can obscure your meaning and put visitors to sleep. Use short, punchy words that illustrate a benefit to your visitors. Compare:
- Proven Methodologies for Increasing Intelligence
- Boost Your IQ – Proven Methods
Use Plain Language
Avoid made-up names; use the terminology your visitors will expect. Compare:
- Tropical Thunder
Finally, be specific. Ensure each list item or link is clearly distinguishable from the others. When writing a list of similar products, focus on what differentiates them.