The look and feel of a web page is the first thing that strikes a reader.
Everyone has an opinion about the graphical design.
More than any other factor, design can influence credibility. If the page looks dodgy, people assume the content is dodgy.
Design must be appropriate: a designer's site must look gorgeous, a government site honest and worthy, a charity site fairly frugal, a children's site appealing to children.
As a content writer, you may think design is not your domain or concern. This may be true of graphical design.
But content needs designing too.
Like a home or garden, online content benefits from feng shui — good form and good flow.
In a few seconds, without reading a word, your visitors will decide if they will rest their eyes on your page and read it.
The design of the content influences your readers' decision greatly.
You know this to be true. You can arrive on a site, dense with a grey wall of words, and you want to run a mile. Your reaction is immediate.
The serenity test of good content is: Does the page look spacious, calm and orderly?
As a copywriter, you can shape and format your text in such a way that the reader feels calm and confident.
Calm, because the page looks well organised. Confident, because they automatically assume the text is correspondingly clear and easy to follow.
3 easy tips to create online content that has feng shui
1. Add plenty of white space
Usability studies show online content with white space inspires hope and confidence in the reader.
You can create white space with:
- left alignment of text
- plenty of headlines and sub-headlines
- short paragraphs
- black dots, whether full stops or bullet points
- pull quotes.
2. Keep heading levels simple
In general, 2 levels of heading suffice for online content: one for the main page headline, and one for all other headlines on the page.
Numerous levels are confusing and counterproductive, especially because readers can only see one screen's worth of content at a time.
3. Keep paragraphs short
Restrict paragraphs to around 60-65 words.
A paragraph that looks palatable in a book or on paper, can look overwhelming on screen, especially on a mobile device.
Test your content on various screen sizes and devices. Along with your other routine content checks, ask yourself does your content pass the serenity test.
Our courses and books offer more ways you can cleverly tailor and arrange text to appear calm and orderly.
You could call these the principles of good content design or virtual feng shui, if you like.
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