Have you ever tried to read a sentence over and over and couldn’t digest it? Your eyes blur over the words and you can’t grasp what the author is saying. That’s a tall tale sign the author is trying to sound smarter or make their concept more complicated than they need to. In order to make your readers feel like they can enjoy and understand your content, you must make it digestible. There are several ways to achieve this, but a few examples are to: write shorter sentences, use headings, create bullet points, add visuals and make it mobile friendly.
Don’t: Use Obscure Verbiage
I hate when authors use large, unnecessary words to convey their message. Just say it! No one wants to read your article and have to look up words in Urban Dictionary. If consumers don’t have to think too much about what they’re reading, they can enjoy the content more. In an article titled The Source of Bad Writing, Steven Pinker describes the Curse of Knowledge. It doesn’t always occur to the writer that the reader doesn’t know what they know, so the writer doesn’t bother to explain the jargon. Author and professor Adam Grant has a perfect saying for this phenomenon, “Good communicators make themselves look smart. Great communicators make their audiences feel smart”. Make it concise; there’s no need for ambitious wording.
Do: Create Space
As digital media becomes more popular, mobile-friendly versions have become integral to user experience. If you write long paragraphs with no breathing room, the reader might feel overwhelmed by the content and steer clear. Using headings and bullet points to separate your ideas is a good way to create space. If the reader is more interested in a specific portion of your article, book, etc. they might navigate to that heading. Bullet points are great for outlining key ideas as bite-size content. This article about paraphrasing is a perfect example for using headers and bullet points correctly.
Do: Use Images
Posting an article without related images breaks the “unspoken rules” of media. For example if you’re discussing statistics, a graph should be displayed along with it. Digital media is so visual, and words alone cannot compete with the saturation of the web. Everyone reads on their phones, tablets or computers and if your article isn’t supported on an iPhone, you’re doomed to thrive. You must conform to digital media and its demands.
The main point is to make things easy for the reader. The consumer has already found your book, article, paper, etc. Reading is supposed to be an escape or learning experience. No one will want to read your content if you make them work for it.