Why visual design matters when you write business content

Writing great content that people enjoy reading and find easy to understand is partly the words you use. Unless you’re writing for a specialist audience, you’ll quickly lose people if you use “ten dollar words” rather than “fifty cent words”. Your writing will be too difficult for most people to understand without guessing at the meaning of many of the words or stopping to look them up.

On the other hand, if your sentences are all very simple and use a very limited vocabulary, readers are likely to find your content dull. Unless you’re writing for very young children, you don’t want to be producing the equivalent of “This is Spot. See Spot run. Run, Spot, Run!”

But another aspect of creating content that people enjoy reading and find easy to understand is how it looks on the page or screen. The choice of typeface and layout will play a role — and may be something you don’t have much control over — but you can also structure your content in ways that are make it both visually attractive and more readable. After all, who hasn’t balked at reading an apparently endless paragraph?

Tips for structuring your content

Here are some tips for structuring content to make it more engaging.

  1. Use bullet point or numbered lists rather than paragraphs when writing about related ideas.
  2. Pull out a few words of key content that can be presented in a larger typeface to entice the reader to dig into the main text. You can do this with short quotes, statistics or even just the key point in your text.
  3. Separate some content out into another section that’s boxed alongside your main content. This can be great for examples or case studies, for tips and key takeaways, or for discussing a particular point in more depth.
  4. Vary the length of your paragraphs. You don’t want to confront your readers with endless walls of text, but you also don’t want to disrupt the flow of ideas by drip feeding them one sentence at a time.
  5. Break up your content with (meaningful) subheadings. This is partly about avoiding creating a wall of text but it also allows people to skim read your content to see if they want to take the time to read it properly.

When to add visual structure

Applying these ideas when writing your first draft is great, if you can manage it, but they’re best tackled either when creating outlines (if you use them) or during the editing and proofreading steps of your writing process. So don’t sweat it if you don’t get the visual structure right straight away. But do make sure your final draft will be easy on the eye if you want readers to fully engage with your great content.

If you want to learn more about the steps involved in going from writing a rough first draft to creating final copy that’s engaging and easy to read, check out my Ultimate Editing and Proofreading Checklist. Click on the banner below to find out more.

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