Break It Up to Wake It Up
Susana Fonticoba, owner of ClearPath Strategy, recently wrote an article about how to keep your reader’s attention when you have a long-ish document. She was referring to text documents, but her advice applies equally to web pages.
You know you just love to read a really long document – pages and pages of similar looking text — your eyes get tired after the first few paragraphs. And what do you say at this point? I’ll just read the rest later. But you never do because it’s a hideously boring looking document.
You don’t want people doing that to YOUR documents. Wake them up by breaking it up.
Use paragraph headings – that way people can jump to the section they need. That’s where Styles come into play. Use the Heading styles to break up pages of text into smaller blocks of text they can find and read easily.
Paper documents and web pages share the same issues
So pay special attention to white space. Using headings and sub-headings as Susana suggests not only breaks up the monotony of body text, but it also adds some white space around your content.
Turn lengthy lists from paragraphs into bullet lists. That another way to add some white space and make your copy look a bit more approachable. Add emphasis via italics or bold where appropriate to break up the monotony. (Just don’t use underlines on the web unless what’s underlined is a link.)
Use graphics. A nice image or two, whether photos or line drawings, with text wrapping around it goes a long way toward encouraging visitors to stick around and read more of your copy.
[Update December, 2021] With the latest significant algorithm update from Google last summer, Page Experience is now an important ranking factor with Google. So paying attention to the user experience on your web pages not only helped with conversions but will help with search rankings as well.