Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: comprehension

It’s Not You. It’s My Line Width.

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Far be it for me to dictate your relationship with your favorite word processor. Go on, keep your margins at the safe 1 inch.

It’s not as if you’re putting text there anyway. Leave line spacing at double. Since you always seem to need the room.

Ignore the footer field, like you always do! Content at the bottom has feelings, too!

Reading Without Tiring

Well, that got out of hand. On the upside, when was the last time page formatting related to relationships?

Woman Reading on Phone at Coffee Shop

Have you ever read content (online or print) and felt tired by the end? It’s because you need to start exercising. Exercising your use of ideal line widths.

The premise of reading, from a biological perspective, is fascinating. Our brains see each character as a picture, which it associates with those surrounding it (left to right or right to left, depending on your heritage), then interprets that as a word/number/sentence. Incredible!

I don’t need to tell you how quickly this process occurs, since you’re reading without thinking about the shape of every letter.

Doing so is tiring. Your eyes and brain need a break, even if it is shorter than your last “vacation day” (you call that a day off?). The pauses come as you change lines. Think of the last exhausting thing you read. I’d bet the lines were quite long.

Holding Open Book

Researchers at the Baymard Institute learned our focus is best when you write within an ideal line width. The golden range? Between 50-75 characters, including spaces, on each line. They found your “subconscious is energized when jumping to the next line.”

In plain English: You get bored, tired, and otherwise distracted if you cannot be entertained by the mundane process of…WOW, A NEW LINE!

Line Width For Entertainment & All Possible Devices

Man on Tablet with Coffee

With readers viewing your content on any number of screen shapes and sizes, adopting a design which adapts is key. If you find the width cannot be reduced, there is another option: Line spacing.

Remember in school how you double-spaced that paper to hit the 2-page requirement? Turns out, you were right all along. This blog uses approximately a 1.5 line spacing setting to enhance readability coupled with a large font.

It’s your writing. Get it read! Pride aside, ask your marketing team how well a campaign runs if what you produce isn’t perused?

Note: Reading from credituniongeek.com, line width is less than 80 characters.

For further reference: http://baymard.com/blog/line-length-readability

Write to Educate, Not Confuse

It is an altogether established fact, contrary to what logic may dictate, amongst the academic and corporate business worlds, both literary cognizant populaces, that composing documents with a willingness to dig deeply into the complexity of the language being composed enables widespread viewership and understanding.

So, did that make any sense to you? Don’t feel bad if you needed to read it a few times to get the gist; that’s not unusual. When you are trying to get a point across, do you want to muddy the waters of understanding with overly complex writing? To say something in many words that could be said in few?

I spent many years within the academic world, receiving a Master’s degree in my field. You won’t believe how many papers I read (and conversations I had) where the level of discussion was so high none of us understood what was going on! It’s as if to be seen as credible and intelligent, you must express your ideas at a level above that of the average person.

Well that’s convenient. Just talk above everyone’s head; hasn’t that always been the best way to explain yourself?

Unfortunately, it happens outside the world of Ph.Ds (even they need to re-read the tough sections!). You see it on the news and in industry publications…but where do you never see this? That’s right, marketing.

As a marketer, your goal is to catch the audience’s interest long enough to present your idea and motivate them to take action. That may mean visiting a website, going to a dealer, buying a product, etc. If your limited time is spent confusing a potential customer, you can imagine how it affects sales.

Ok, class. It’s research time!

When you’re presenting or writing in your preferred field, I’m sure you can discuss at a very high level. In fact, it’s probably when you get most excited. Details, complexity, rationale, and research! This is awesome! And your audience is lost. They’re not dumb, just in that area, they’re not as advanced as you. Which is ok. Talk to me about fashion or accounting at an advanced level, and I’ll give you a blank stare that truly has nothing behind it. But, bring up technology, world news, or other topics where I hold an understanding and interest (those usually go together), I’m engaged and following, no matter how in-depth you get. Understanding all depends on how easily read your material can be.

Imagine this: You’re offering a new accounting platform, I mean completely new to the industry, but it is wildly great. Cuts hours out of doing payroll, tax filing, and even finds more deductions than anything else on the market. You know your product totally, absolutely rocks. But I have no interest or understanding, remember? However, as a business owner, I’m the exact target of your marketing…I’m who would benefit the most from your solution. How do you present it to me? Do you dig into the complexities of how it works, using long, drawn-out sentences? Do you present me a 10-page research summary about how it achieves such great results?

Of course not! You simplify it down to its most basic level.

We’re here to change perceptions. We believe accounting should save you money and time, not consume it. That novices and experts alike can generate equal results. We believe your finances can be well-managed without needing a degree. To this end, we created our Accounting Plus platform. So you can do what you do best: running your business.

So go forth and be simple! The next (scheduled) post will connect this concept to reading levels. You won’t believe what grade level your writing should be.

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