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The Secret of Writing for The Way People Read

construction websites and marketingWrite for People AND The How They Read – I am a self-trained speed reader.  Did the Evelyn Wood course a few times and I use it a lot. In fact, I always piss off my Mom when she gives me something to read and I hand it back to her a few seconds later telling her I am done.

She always thinks I am full of shit…

So I have to go through the dog and pony show of telling her what the story was about, who the main players were, and what my thoughts were and that typically appeases her…at least I think it does.

So I scan a lot of content both online and off, looking for points of interest that the writer highlights for me with bolded text, italicized text or strong headlines or sub-heads.

But there are a few other ways people read and you need to make sure your site content is built to attract as many readers as possible.

Types of readers:

As mentioned, scanners will blow through the page looking for tidbits that catch their eye. Use bold text and italics for this type of reader.

Then there are headliners…These readers will only read the headline or sub-head, so do a good job in “selling” the headline to the reader in order to get them to read the paragraph below.

*Bullets-This type of reader scans for bulleted text or lists. Kind of like the list you are reading right now! So make sure your on page content has at least one bulleted list.

My favorite but most elusive reader, the person who reads everything on the page! If you can capture their attention in the first 50 words, they read it all.

And finally…the offer reader. This reader skips all the content on your page and goes for whatever it is you are offering. Now, this reader already has a price-point in their head, so you better have some pretty compelling content around your offer to help “close” the deal.

So, since most people who read online scan while looking at pictures or other words that catch their eyes, you need to create breaks to help readers get your message.

Try these copy writing tips when developing website copy:

  • See how I am using another bulleted list?
  • Make sure you don’t have any paragraphs over 5 sentences
  • Break up major changes in content direction with sub-heads
  • Make sure you sell imagery with…wait for it…images!
  • Make it one topic per paragraph
  • Use 14-point text already…people can’t see shit anymore!

They always tell you to use an active voice instead of a passive voice. In other words, using words like was or have been are passive. I suck at this, but then again, I can’t rock at everything.

Here’s one I am a bit of a fanatic about. Don’t fill your content with bullshit. In other words, keep the fluff off the page. People see right through it, and that is tough to do as a sales guy, trust me. But your readers will appreciate it.

Here is another one I need to tone down on, don’t use so many EXCLAMATION POINTS! OR BOLD TEXT! That is all!

In the famous words of NIKE, just do it. See, I could have used another exclamation point there but I didn’t. Point is, writing, like deck building, takes practice to master, so stop cruising Craigslist for used tools and get to work! Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

4 responses to “The Secret of Writing for The Way People Read”

  1. Chris Haught Avatar
    Chris Haught

    Perfect timing Darren! The BP team has been having this conversation with the goal to clean house. I am a speed reader too and it is often hard for me to look at the site with “fresh eyes”. Bookmarked to share with my authors, thanks!

    1. Darren Avatar

      Awesome Chris! Happy I could throw in on the topic from afar!

  2. Joe Levitch Avatar
    Joe Levitch

    Another excellent post. I do a bunch of these things already but you mentioned a few new tricks. I am going to try using some more headlines. Any thoughts on length of a blog post in number of words? I am currently shooting for mid 600 at the max.

    1. Darren Avatar

      That is a good length. Between 250-500 is a solid number. Too much more than that puts people to sleep.