Scannable Layouts Improve Online Readability

Boost your conversion rate by helping visitors to quickly find the information they need when optimizing online readability with scannable layouts.

Designing for Better Readability Online

If you want people to get more people to engage with your content, optimize your online readability and make it scannable as most people don’t read

What is Online Readability?

Online readability refers to the ease and speed with which a reader can comprehend content. It is affected by factors such as font size, font type, spacing, and layout design, all of which can impact how easily users can read and comprehend the content.

Why Online Readability Matters for Your Website

Online readability is crucial for websites because people today are increasingly pressed for time and seek efficiency in achieving their goals. In fact, studies show that only 16% of online users read web content word for word. This is especially true for mobile users, who are often on-the-go and have even less time to spare.

How to Structure Your Content for Quick Comprehension

By structuring your content with scannable elements such as headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs, you can capture readers’ attention and facilitate quick comprehension, making it more likely that they will engage with your website and take the desired action.

Utilize Visual Hierarchy

The inverted pyramid is an early journalism structure that presents information in order of priority. The system was developed in the telegraph age to deliver the most important news information first. The same writing style is being used effectively for online readers who don’t have time to read.

The inverted pyramid begins with the most important information presented first, usually, the conclusion, followed by the who, what, when and why, and ends with background supporting information.

Inverted pyramid writing style for better online readability illustration


Scannable Layouts

Boost your website’s readability and comprehension by using data-driven design principles that optimize scannable layouts. By leveraging hierarchy, eye movement, and contrast, you can present the most important content at a glance and keep users engaged. Research conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group has shown that combining concise text with objective language in a scannable layout can improve readability by up to 124% compared to dense blocks of text

Layout Tips

  • Big headlines draw attention
  • Big intro paragraphs get read
  • Quilty images communicate ideas quickly
  • Scannable content enables quick reading

Making Text Scannable

  • Highlight keywords (using hypertext links, typeface variations and colour)
  • Write meaningful sub-headings rather than clever ones
  •  Provide bulleted lists 
  •  Stick to one idea per paragraph

Reading Patterns

The western languages have trained our eyes to start at the top and read from left to right. Designers frequently use F, Z and the Gutenberg pattern style layouts that follow this natural eye movement.

Online Readability F Pattern LayoutOnline Readability Z Pattern Layout

Although a few other reading patterns have been identified through eye-tracking software, what is apparent throughout these patterns is that eye movement is dominated by position and contrast.

Reader’s eyes are naturally drawn to start at the top left and “distracted” by contrasting elements, such as subheadings, highlighted words, and images. These findings show that you can direct a reader’s attention by optimising your content using layout best practices.

Freemium eye-tracking software such as HotJar can help you discover insights into how users read or skip through your content.

SEO Readability and Language

Besides including relevant keywords that your users might search for, Google understands that it is best to “Explain your topic in simple, easy-to-read language” for SEO readability – this drives user engagement which is now an SEO rank factor.

Clarity vs Quirky

Users don’t have time to decipher puns and “clever” headings. So instead, use more meaningful words for subheadings and hypertext and keep the copy short.

Neutral language

Rather than being subjective, boastful or exaggerated, people prefer neutral language. For example, the Nielsen Norman study mentioned earlier showed that people loathe promotional style writing. This subjective writing style scored a low readability score of 0% compared to the neutral language, which improved readability by 27%.

  • Use relevant search terms
  • Keep it simple and understandable
  • Choose clarity over quirkiness
  • Use neutral language and don’t boast

Optimising Readability basics

Your goal is to organise and present content that enables users can comprehend quickly. Avoiding walls of text, applying visual hierarchy, using meaningful names for links and subheadings, incorporating bulleted lists and making important words stand out from the body text are the fundamental building blocks for quick, easy “reads”.

Optimising Your Content

Marketize provides a range of content and digital design services to bring your story to life and stick in a customer’s mind. These services include SEO copy editing, strategic content design, user-friendly web design, web development and most aspects of consumer journey marketing.

Boost your marketing efforts with professional help and guidance that will put you on track to success.