10 Tips to format website copy for the best user experience
So, you've been working on your website and can't wait to release it for the world to see and get the ball rolling. After all, having a website makes your business come alive!
But here's the thing, whilst having a visually enticing website is great, having copy that is chaotic, unstructured, and unclear, can cause a head spin for the most eager of readers and turn them away in an instance.
So, how can you avoid this? Check out my ten tips to blow your readers' minds (and I mean in a good way!).
10 Tips to formatting website copy
1. Use clean, easy-to-read fonts
With an enormous library of fonts to choose from, it's easy to derail and get fancy. However, your copy will have a greater impact if it is legible. Therefore, opt for clean serif or sans-serif fonts for headers, sub-headers, body copy, and call to action. If you're unsure of where to begin, do some research. Canva, for instance, has provided a guide to the best professional fonts to use for your website.
Whilst on the topic of fonts, ensure the font is readable. We don't want our readers to be straining their eyes. Opt for a font size of point 16 or above. Ideally, for body copy, somewhere between points 16-18 is just right. You can go higher for your headers, just not too big!
2. Use white space
White space, also known as breathing space, is an essential part of the design. Whether that's print or web, white space is essential. Not only does this lead to a more professional looking website, but it also makes it easier for your readers to engage with your content and follow what you have to say.
There are two types of white space
Micro: are the smaller gaps between lines of text and images.
Macro: these are the larger empty areas around content and image blocks.
A point to remember: too little or too much can be bad for your site, so find the happy balance!
It is said that in music, the silences between notes are just as important as the sounds themselves.
3. Condense the columns
Tighter, more condensed columns make for easier reading. After all, who wants to read the lengths and lengths of paragraphs? Reduce the number of words you use and break up the columns with images and white space.
4. Use bite-size copy If you've worked with me, you'll know that I prefer to copy simple and broken down into bite sizes. Why? Because it's easier to read, understand, and take in the information.
Use bullet points.
Keep sentences short.
Use shorter paragraphs.
5. Use visual elements As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Replace some words with graphics, photos, or illustrations to get the message across. Use these elements to support your points. Not only will this help break down your copy, but it will give your website some razzmatazz!
6. Capitalisation - not always good
Have you ever been to a website or picked up a brochure and felt like you were being shouted at? Well, there may have been a capitalisation problem there. Whilst not always, all-caps headings can often come across as 'shouty.'
Instead of shouting at your reader and overwhelming them, opt for sentence cases and only use capitalisation where necessary.
In saying that, all-caps, when used tastefully in headers and pull-out quotes, can often be very attractive.
7. Left-align your text
There's a saying - people read in a zigzag (left to right). So, to make it easier for your reader to follow what you have to say, using left-aligned text is ideal for formatting. In saying that, playing with the odd centred or right-aligned text when the design calls for it can work too.
8. Create a careful cocktail of words and images
By this, I don't mean a fresh drink (sorry to disappoint!). What I mean is, if you're someone who likes the look of images with text overlay, opt for a cleaner image that allows for your text to breathe and stand out. After all, a couple should complement each other.
9. Use clear, exciting headings
We're all guilty of skimming through content. It's just what we do. And we only stop to look when something catches our eye or we find the topic we were looking for. This is where you're headers play a huge role. They attract the reader's attention. So, to ensure you grab their attention:
Ensure your headers are bigger and bolder than the body copy.
Make it exciting and thought-provoking.
Use a different colour (if it works and is part of your brand style).
Break the headers down into H1 followed by heading 2 (H2 - sub-header) and so on.
Don't forget, we also want to grab Google's attention. So try to make your header SEO-friendly with the use of keywords.
10. Make your call to action clear
When you want to drive action, it's essential to have a clear call to action. While using actionable, clear, and concise wording is important, you must also make the call to action identifiable by the reader. By this, I mean using a nicely coloured button that pops out on the page that indicates it is clickable.
Keep it simple
Most importantly, keep things simple. I always ask myself, can a 5-year-old understand this. If yes, then you've got a winner.