No one’s arguing the Internet is anything less than amazing, with its proverbial tubes overflowing with the sweet, restorative waters of breaking news, social media and sneezing kitten videos. However, as website owners know, keeping an active audience reading through the entirety of a post — when there’s a perpetually distracting sea of tweets, status updates and current dance crazes on YouTube to admire — is a remarkably difficult prospect. So, how does a modern blogger hold fast the eyes of the ADHD-afflicted imbibers of these tubes? By providing an attractive, content appropriate layout for every type of post.
How important could layout really be, though? Whether dressed in bullet points, topped with headers or minimally decorated in long-form paragraphs, isn’t the content the same? Of course, but there’s a very good reason website content services ask clients to detail their style preferences for a project; using an appropriate layout for a blog posting, whether it’s informal, informational or professional, ensures the expected type of browsers gleefully gobble up the material. Here’s how each format should look for the greatest success.
The most common format for blog posts, informal layouts are extremely readable, as the entertaining subject matter must be effortlessly consumable. Dense, heavy tracts of text scare off readers who only want a taste of something sweet, not a full meal, while browsing.
Generally of moderate length, approximately 300-700 words, informal articles with small paragraphs, lists and multiple headers are the most successful with viewers who are clicking through for a gossipy celebrity takedown, inspiring personal anecdote or opinion-based piece, especially if they incorporate pictures or videos for a well-rounded media experience.
Humor sites, fashion blogs and lifestyle pages benefit the most from this layout, though any casual genre can work.
Informational articles share some qualities with informal pieces while maintaining distinctive characteristics. Straightforward and fact-based, this style foregoes fluff in favor of succinct material that readers skim. The essentials of this layout include:
- A concise introduction
- Two to three-sentence paragraphs
- 100 to 400 words
- Bullet points
- Voice in third person
- A one or two-sentence summation
Great for product descriptions, product reviews and how-to articles, the informational layout creates a streamlined page of information for readers who want nothing but facts.
Favoring the attractive properties of high quality, fluid writing, professional pieces enjoy the focused benefit of a more educated readership who are visiting the page expressly to read deeply on a particular subject. The style of writing, as the layout suggests, is more professional in tone than the informal pieces, but still utilizes a more romantic flavor than the informational articles. Metaphors, similes and analogies help paint a detailed picture of an actual event or piece of information that requires factual backing. Therefore, professional postings often incorporate embedded links or a list of sources that prove or emphasize a point made. Additionally, this layout complements longer articles, of minimally 700 words and often reaching in the thousands, where numerous shorter paragraphs would look sloppy. The professional layout, with its long-form paragraphs and flowing prose, appeals to journalism pieces, comparative essays and explanatory breakdowns of technology, politics or science.
Much like loving but oddly competitive siblings, all three layout styles have notable qualities in common, while stubbornly insisting on their differentiations as their most appealing aspects. While a website content services provider may recommend a certain layout, it’s up to the blog owner to know which of these alluring styles best suits his website and — most importantly — his fickle readership.
Ashley B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.