We like to think visitors to our website spend the time necessary to read and understand our message. Unfortunately, research shows that for the typical website, visitors read only about 18% of what is presented. The biggest reason for this is the tendency of website owners to put too much text on the page – especially the Home page.
We understand. You have a great deal of knowledge and what you have to share is important. You want to make sure your visitors know and understand the depth of what you have to offer. But today’s visitors tend to scan a web page – at least initially. If they see a page full of text that they can’t easily scan, most visitors will just leave to find a different website they can scan.
There are three common ways to solve this problem:
“Tease and Jump” is where a small amount of text is presented on the Home page followed by a link to a separate page of detailed text. The teaser text is used to generate curiosity in the hopes the visitor will be enticed to click on the link and then read all the copy presented on a new page. The advantage of this technique is that it gives an internal link that boosts Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results. There are, however, two disadvantages. The first is that it requires the visitor to make a conscious decision whether to click on the link or not. This may seem like a small decision, but it’s one that the majority of visitors will choose not to do. The second disadvantage occurs when the visitor does click through to the new page and sees a page full of text. The linked-to page has to have enough content to justify an entire page. If the majority of the content is text we run into the same problem as when it’s on the Home page – most visitors will leave to find a different website.
“Read More / Read Less” presents the same teaser type text to get the visitor interested and then presents a button labeled “Read More” that, when clicked, expands the page to reveal the rest of the text. At the end of the expanded text is a “Read Less” button that shrinks the text back to its original state when it is clicked. As a general rule the expanded text isn’t a whole page worth of content – it’s usually a paragraph or two of added detail. This technique is often applied to the mobile presentation of the web page to save precious screen real estate. The advantage of “read more / read less” is a lot of people are already familiar with it (see Amazon book descriptions). The disadvantages are 1) you lose the SEO advantage, and 2) most people don’t click on the “read more” button.
“Pacing” your website incorporates a different approach. It’s important to understand that your visitors initially require two things: They must be able to scan your website to determine if it’s what they’re really looking for. There also has to be something to make them curious about how you can help them. Once these two criteria are met, they will be willing to delve into more detail as they proceed down your website’s Home page. This “more detail” doesn’t involve paragraphs of text, but it does include sections that deal in more detail with how to move forward with what you offer, testimonials, special offers, etc.
On a “paced” website the text at the top of the page is very direct and concise. The text usually consists of titles and bullet points. The sections near the top qualify your visitor (have they found what they are looking?) as well as generate interest in how you can solve their problem.
Now that their curiosity has been peaked, they are willing to read more copy. As they move down the page you still use the minimum amount of text possible but include enough to answer their questions. You must be able to explain the steps to take to do business with you, establish your expertise, address their fears, and the like. Again, it’s important to make these sections scannable.
At the bottom of a “paced” website will be a paragraph of detailed explanation with keywords and phrases used throughout. This paragraph will rarely be read by a human. That’s okay; its main purpose isn’t meant for your visitor to read. It’s there primarily for the benefit of search engines. It’s okay if your visitor does read it – but very few will because it’s too much text.
The biggest advantage of a “paced” website is obvious – your visitors aren’t presented with a page full of text. But at the same time, you have been able to include the detail needed to answer all their important questions. Another advantage is the ability to quickly qualify your visitors. The last thing you want is a phone call or email asking you to spend time on a visitor only to find out you’re really not what they’re looking for.
Out of these three ways to improve the amount of text your visitor reads “Pacing” is by far the most effective. You’ll end up with a far superior website as a result. We at Drake Web Development will do what it takes to make our clients happy, including the other two techniques. But we highly recommend a “paced” approach to the text content on your website and we’d be more than happy to help you with your messaging. Just schedule a free consultation and we can get started.
P.S. If you’d like to take a look at a “paced” website please feel free to visit our website – Drake Web Development.