skip to main content

TAMU Webmaster's Blog

Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Rest their eyes: making it easier to read your Web page

March 4th, 2009 by mdmcginnis

On the Web, content is king. People like meaty Web pages. But design must not be an afterthought either. Good usability and accessibility depends on good design. If you have a lot of content, how can good design keep the text from melting into rivers of gray letters? How can you create more scannable Web pages? Here are several suggestions.

  1. Break up your text with white space. Using short paragraphs means there will be more space between them, and that’s easier to read.
  2. Highlight important words by making them bold. (Actually, the best HTML tag for this is <strong>.) Now your page is no longer a river of gray. It has islands of black.
  3. Use bullet lists. We talked more about their benefits in another post, but this one suggestion adds both bold and white space.
  4. Increase the default space between lines. It so happens that Web browsers automatically put less space between lines, but people really need more, according to usability experts. You can use CSS to specify it: body {line-height: 1.5}
  5. Use headings and sub-headings. Whenever I see a river of gray on my Web pages, I know I need some sub-headings. Of course, design considerations are not the only reason to add headings. They also help with usability and search engine optimization.
  6. Link generously. The underlined text also breaks up the page. Links are not just for navigation and menus. You should sprinkle links throughout your text. I bet your second grade teacher didn’t teach you this when she taught you how to write, even if you had been born into the Digital Generation (see that link in the middle of a paragraph?). You can’t do this with ruled paper and a No. 2 pencil. But on the Web, it’s a piece of cake. Adding a link takes up no more space than leaving it out. What you communicate is no longer limited to what you can write, now that you can link to what other people write.
    • If you use a term that not all your readers will understand, link to a definition or discussion of it.
    • If you mention a topic that has been covered in detail elsewhere, link to the detailed coverage.
    • If your readers might need some more background on the subject, link to the background.
    • Have an important page that not enough people read? Link to it every time it’s appropriate.
    • An extra plus: Google pays more attention to links within your text than in headers, footers and navigation.
Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 Web Content
Share this article

1 Comment to Rest their eyes: making it easier to read your Web page

  1. […] If only because the screen is harder on the eyes than paper, writing for the Web needs to be shorter and […]

  2. eduWeb – The Role of Writers | Aggie Webmasters on September 15th, 2009

Leave a comment