1 April 2019
Internet hyper-text technology took the world by storm at the dawn of the 21st Century. Nowadays, it is still going strong, changing the way people approach written information on the internet and, in fact, anywhere.
The more the global information revolution deepens, the more people (especially younger individuals) tend to adopt textual information consumption habits that follow new principles that defy the reading principles following for many centuries. During the 20th Century we used to read thick volumes from cover to cover. These books' text was small and crowded, and they hardly featured any pictures or colors. In short, texts used to be regarded as dense masses of text. However, in the formulating age of internet and hyper-textuality, current readership approaching texts on the internet operates, searches and expects differently.
The abundance of text and information; the vast amount of alternatives accessible with a single click; the various visual and audiovisual possibilities that are flooding the internet from all directions and easily attract attention and interest; the fast pace of life and businesses in the 21st Century and current technology that pressure readers into a need to perform everything quickly and easily- these are all reasons for readers nowadays reading information on the internet operating more as browsers or scanners than actual readers.
Very few people utilize the internet to access traditional masses of text which are presented similarly to the way the text you are reading at the moment was intentionally presented.
These browsers are looking for fast food. They rather not enjoy a gourmet meal if it requires them to settle down comfortably. These new readers prefer more efficient and worthwhile ratio of time and light investment and reasonably pleasant flavor.
browsers don't simply choose to dwell on our message out of the vast amount of competing stimuli, considering our pressuring pace of life. This is an objective that requires us to adapt our website writing to their properties and expectations according to current browsing culture which dictates rapid, nonlinear reading.
In fact, when we design our website, we must be aware that our objective is to "hunt" these wandering browsers in the extremely short time in which they may pay attention to us and consider whether our text is a worthwhile meal.
They will not dedicate time and effort to reading many words to discern what is it that we are trying to say. We must communicate our main, attractive message during the first seconds that they might dedicate to us. We must persuade them that we are worth not shifting immediately to another page or location and get them to come a little closer. The successful hunter can then delve a little deeper in to detail in the following lines.
However, for the browser not to get bored or feel that this meal is too heavy or demanding considering the available alternatives- the next lines under the heading must be short, concise, simple and fluidity.
In other words, in order to capture the browsers' attention and communicate your message in way that will lead them to invest their time and attention in reading our text we must follow the following principles:
Concise text that sends a straightforward message, devoid of any redundant descriptions.
Short, simple lines.
Highlighted, attractive first words/lines or titles that immediately channel the essence of your message.
The article you are currently reading is a fine example of the type of writing that will not help us reach our website's goal. We wrote excessively and superfluously up to this bullet list.
We could now write an explanation that would lead to a reasoned conclusion and its practical implications. But according to what we just explained, current internet writing requires adopting a completely opposite thought paradigm. The message comes first. First, we push what we wish to implement and internalize. Only then, when the essence of the message has reached the readers, is it required to invest in reading the detailed explanations that support the message.
Internet writing strategy dictates that the most important information must be placed first. It is unwise to place it halfway through your piece (for example, here…).
So far, we've discussed the structure of the text and how the messages are organized throughout it. Hereby are some recommendations regarding the text's nature, style and presentation:
The internet reader is a hurried one. As such, they do not linger on every word and might actually feel challenged if coerced to invest much thought in an attempt to understand our intention. It is therefore better to avoid unnecessary sophistication.
Avoid any jokes that might not be sufficiently simply understood.
Avoid slang and style shifts that might distort the readers' focus or lead them to places other than those which we intend them to reach.
Use simple, familiar words.
Don't use unnecessary synonyms or superfluous words to emphasize your message or highlight nuances. The previous sentence is a great example of making that mistake, as we could've just simply said: "don't use unnecessary words".
Unlike traditional book and journal writing, internet websites welcome the use of graphic elements such as pictures, emphasizes, font types and colors. To attract the eyes and attention of the internet reader to your text and message, we recommend using graphic elements. That said, this must be done wisely.
Emphasis must serve the message-transmitting hierarchy throughout the website page- first assist in highlighting the condensed, essential message displayed first, and then further assist in moderately attracting the readers and focusing their interest on the rest of the text. Avoid excessive use of graphic elements or placing them in places that do not support this strategy, in order to avoid confusion.
It is recommended to combine various font types and sizes to generate dynamism, focus and interest throughout the page- again, avoid excess and subsequent confusion.
Pictures should be attractive, simple and immediately clear regarding their content and sophistication level.
The page's form is highly important. The page must be organized in a generally easy and catchy manner. It must be visually interesting and allow a quick, comfortable read. Besides an intelligent application of graphic elements for emphasis, it is always good to
Write short, spacious paragraphs.
When possible, convert a tiring text into a telling video or picture.
Break "heavy" titles into smaller subtitles that can generate a clear, easily navigable hierarchy.
Avoid any situation that requires the reader to scroll much or browse through a mass of material in order to locate what they came for. They will probably just give up and move on to the next website. It is better to present the reader with clear and noticeable links that allows comfortable and quick jumping through websites, relying on titles only. Do not rely on readers returning to the navigation bar and using it. They are usually too lazy for that.
In conclusion, internet reading culture and style in an age in which reader's lack time or attention is focused on keeping them on our page and getting our message through. These conditions might be challenging when attempting to provide readers with a simple, quick and easy reading experience.