No one reads online, except those that do
“People don’t read web pages.” You may have heard this from any number of places—a web designer, developer, coder, or consultant.
Truth be told, I’ve made the claim myself from time to time, especially when I see a client or colleague attempting to put a lot of unimportant content into their web page.
Like most generalizations, the only problem with this is that it’s a generalization.
When you write for your website, you need to write for the majority of your visitors. In other words, keep it short. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers, especially if they’re coming to your organization or issue for the first time.
Prioritize. Think about what your site visitors really must know and give it to them as quickly and succinctly as possible.
But don’t forget about the exceptions. Give readers the option for more, when they’re ready for it.
If you deal with a difficult-to-understand medical issue, for example, start with the basics. Once people feel comfortable with that information, gently direct them to another page on the site where they can dive into more specific content more deeply.
Even then, though, don’t assume you can just dump everything you know about your issue into a largely hidden web page. Be ruthless with yourself and your content.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Many of us struggle with simplifying complex missions or complicated programs. It’s a near universal communications problem.
But remember: Prioritize your content and start with what people must understand first. Keep it as short as possible, while getting the vital information across.
Because no one reads web pages. Except those that do.