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Walls Of Text: They Keep Your Users Out

By Kari Barton

Do you have a lot of vital information to tell your users? Of course you do! But let’s communicate it better than providing the user with a giant wall of copy. They won’t read this dense text anyway because it’s too daunting and lacking that “information scent” which lets them know they’re on the right track.

You and I are web users as well as content creators, so we know first-hand that large blocks of text are not inviting to read.

Creating Barriers

Here’s a wall of text:

No one wants to read this. It’s simply too long and doesn’t look like it will contain any information that I want to know. I don’t even know how to scan it because nothing stands out.

Tear Down That Wall!

Here’s the text from the example above, but redone:

 

Now we can actually scan the text and pick out what areas we might want to read further. It invites us to read by breaking up the text into manageable chunks, and – best of all – it allows us to quickly find and focus on the areas we’re most interested in.

Here’s how we broke down the wall:

  • Put lists in bullets instead of paragraphs: Bullets are great for quick scanning and identifying lists!
  • Added headers: Headers break up paragraphs and allow users to identify what section they want to read for more information.
  • Added links: Linking is crucial on the web. Whenever appropriate, add a link to point your users to more information on a particular topic that you are referring to.
  • Cut the unnecessary parts: If there are words and ideas in the text that don’t help the user better understand the topic at hand, cut out that ROT!

 

You can do it too!

Take a look at your most text-heavy pages and consider if the page is still easy to scan and user-friendly.

 

Test It

You can test if a page is easy to scan by showing it to someone (who is not already familiar with the page) for about 5 seconds and seeing if they were able to get the basic gist of the page. That’s about how long your users will spend scanning your page before either finding what they’re looking for or clicking the back button. Don’t keep them out by building a wall!