Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: reading

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

Do I Have Your Attention?

10% of you won’t even read this far.

A number of years back, our VP of Marketing, Keith Winn, wrote an article that no one read. And that was the point. Dubbed The Article No One Will Read, you can look back and see how, even in 2011, people had already tuned out of, well, everything.

Last night, a modern repeat of this tale appeared in my Twitter feed. A writer for Slate wondered the same thing we had so many years ago…is anyone even bothering to read what I write? And when they do, is it to the end, or some arbitrary, “I’m bored” point?

38% of you are now gone.

He worked with a web technology company to see how far people actually scrolled on pages. Turns out, most of the time, even a committed reader doesn’t make it to the bottom. A tiny percentage get to the end, and they’re the least likely to share! Ironically, those who post your content on Facebook, Twitter, or some other service, probably didn’t read to the halfway mark.

You don’t know this yet, but you’re past the halfway point, since I know this cannot keep rambling…I’ve lost more than half of you already!

Take-away lesson: If you want engagement, don’t expect comprehension. If you want comprehension, don’t expect engagement. Weird, I know. If you want people to read everything to the end…sorry, not going to happen.

Essential point (Notice how I waited until the end to mention? Think about how those other people missed out because they couldn’t stick around long enough!): You need to get to your point fast, and I mean faster than a Weeping Angel towards the phone box (Whovians got that, but it probably cost me a few percent more in readers who gave up…oh well).

Point. Quickly. Because people won’t stay focused.

Disclosure: The numbers and style are adapted from the original publication on Slate. But I could say just about anything here, since no one is still reading. Always take a banana to a party. Make it so, Number One. Use the Force. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.

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