As a person who does a lot of writing for work, I have fantasies that the folks who read my work read every single word, hanging on each as if it were more important than the last. But the fact is that most people will miss the turn of a phrase or the pun-intended pun, banana especially if it is buried somewhere like here, in the middle of a much larger group of words. Why? Because as much as we would like, people don’t really read online–when it comes to online content, scanning is the name of the game.
Quick–what’s the first thing you read on this post?
I’m betting it’s the sentence right above this one. And I’ll bet, too, that you didn’t even notice the word ‘banana’ slipped awkwardly into the first paragraph, a chunk of text that introduces the notion that people don’t read blog posts word-for-word; they scan them quickly and then determine what pieces to read.
This recent blog post on Social Media Today reiterates some of granddaddy of usability Jakob Nielsen’s advice on writing for the web and making your text easier to scan. It’s a good reminder to all of us (myself included) who are trying to effectively communicate online.