There are numerous studies telling us that nobody reads online articles anymore. Writers and publishers would find this disheartening. If people prefer other content formats online other than anything written, then it seems that we’re just writing for nothing. How come we’re still asked to write when no one bothers to read them anyway?


A study by the Nielsen Norman Group revealed several behaviours that people exhibit when they read online. Based on the study’s findings, people would rather skim through written online content. Instead of reading word per word, people read by unconsciously following patterns. In terms of elements that further disrupt some people’s attempt to read, in-line quotes and ads that eventually cut the flow of thought lead online audiences to just scan the content.  More so, when people scan online content, they just look for keywords that seem interesting or important to them.


With millions of content available online, it is understandable why people are not compelled to fully read online content. There is so much to consume, yet so little time when people go online. For us publishers, it now becomes a matter of making content that can grab their scarcely limited interest and attention.


To make your online articles more enticing to scan, to say the least, here are some things you should consider:


Go straight to the point


People still search for information over the internet and if your content provides the answer to their questions, then there’s a chance that they will scan through your content to find right away only the crucial details they need. Capitalize on this behavior by getting straight to your message. There’s a better chance of getting your audience engaged by removing all the fluff in your messaging.


Mind the layout


While we already know that people only skim through your content by following patterns such as the lawnmower pattern, among others, then you might as well optimize the layout of your articles to accommodate such reading behaviour of your audience. While the quality of your content is important, the experience of your audience in consuming your content is something that you should also take into account. By making your content much easier to read, you make consumption of your content much more rewarding for your audience.


Mix content format


Video has gained dominance online as a content format. It is much easier to consume since bitesized information is presented with supplementary visuals and audio. However, written articles still remain relevant because they are much easier to search. We still benefit from short or long form articles as keywords or phrases still drive SEO and  written articles are also much more comprehensive in terms of presenting information. 


Get the best of both worlds by adding video and images in your written articles. There is a bigger probability that they will stay in your page if you have various content formats that satisfy their consumption behavior.


Again, keep on publishing


Our audience’s online behavior may change from time to time. While they benefit from the content we publish, we should always take into account that we need them to engage with our content.  It is expected of us as publishers to be aware of their emerging needs in terms of content and keep up.


We now learn that publishing does not only involve reliable information, but demands more creativity in writing and in designing. Writing is a mindful process, to begin with. With this finding, we just have to be more mindful not just about writing, but also about publishing.