There’s a lot competing for our attention these days, especially in the online world. Most of us carry a mobile device with us wherever we go. We pull it out to check in on our favorite social media service, to send a text, or to check a review of a restaurant we’re about to enter. We scan quickly, pressed for time, and so short, concise bursts of information are what we want.
Otherwise, it’s the dreaded TL;DR (too long; didn’t read).
But for content writers, delivering a “short, concise burst” of information isn’t just about using fewer words—it’s about using the right words. Every word is freighted with meaning, but the right combination can deliver a lot of information in a very short space. Thus, with today’s short attention spans and palm-sized screens, practicing word economy is the best way to ensure your message gets through.
The people who write ad copy and commercial jingles figured this out long ago. Keep the message short, and if possible, sweet, and people will remember it. It’s one thing if you’re a blogger with a particular humor or voice – your audience is likely to stick around for your style as much as your message. But if you’re trying to provide information to a time-strapped audience on-the-go then you have to deliver it fast.
Readers will scan only the first few lines to decide if your page has what they’re looking for. They will skim bullet points to see if they want to read further. If your web content requires a lot of scrolling to read, or worse, it’s broken out over multiple pages, then you may lose your intended audience before you have even started.
Ideally, most articles range from 350-500 words. With such a short space, you must choose the words, and only those words, that help you relay the most salient points of the message you want to convey, whether it’s about the specials your restaurant offers or the ways you can help a homeowner refinance her mortgage.
Consider the following:
- Who is your audience? If your website caters primarily to people on their mobile devices, then keep your web content short and sweet.
- Information or entertainment? You have more leeway on length if your article is intended to entertain – usually your audience has sought you out and intends to stick around. But the audience for informative articles is different. If you can’t show how you’ll help them in just a few lines, they’ll probably move on.
- How can you deliver the most effective message in the shortest space? Pictures and video clips are great, but especially on mobile devices, your audience will be relying on your words. Choose them carefully.
At KCWMS, we craft quality web content for real people. We can help grow your online business with meaningful, readable web content designed with modern SEO tactics in mind. With effective content delivered efficiently, we can ensure your website avoids the dreaded “too long; didn’t read.”
by Andy R.