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Making content more readable, persuasive and efficient

Sarah Graveling
Sarah Graveling
Creative Director
9 October 2009

Most agencies will tell you that content is king and good for search rankings.

But will they also tell you how this content can aid users trust in your brand and increase conversion? Is it about quality or quantity and what can you do to improve the power of the content you are writing?

Here are a few tips on how to make your content more readable, persuasive and efficient.

How readable is your content?

Research shows that less than 20% of users read word for word online, so it’s imperative that you follow some simple guidelines when writing for the web that will aid readability.

  • Use clear and common language that users can relate to
  • Use descriptive headings (especially your H1’s and H2’s)
  • Bolden important words for scan readers
  • Use descriptive link text and never use click here’s
  • Use lists / bullet points where possible

How extensive is your content?

Trust online is essential and there are many elements that enable users to trust your brand. One element is the extent of the content on your site.

Efficiently archived information enables users to see you have a history and industry related content such as extensive blogs, FAQ’s, guides and knowledge based articles are particularly valuable.

A very good example of how well written content can benefit both the trust of your users and your rankings.

How current is your content?

I was looking at a site the other day which highlighted a competition on the homepage, which is engaging and good. But then I noticed that the closing date was April 2009 and I instantly lost trust in the site.

Just as search engines like recently changing content on the homepage, so do users, but users will judge you if you don’t keep this up to date.

How persuasive is your content

Why?

Using “because” helps users understand why. Research shows that when people are asked for small requests, they respond more likely when a reason is given.

Diffusion of responsibility

Research shows that when a request is sent to a large group of people, fewer are likely to respond than if the request is sent to a few or less. Using this methodology indicates that users will display a higher response rate to personalised content. Using “You” aids the impression they are being spoken to directly, rather than a generic reader and will encourage forward thinking.

Persuasive design research above is based on learnings from “How to design for Persuasion, Emotion and Trust (PET)” run by Human Factors.

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