A guide for business by
BravandELIEZ

Blogs, newsletters and long form

Blog posts, newsletters, and content pages have all sorts of purposes. But the one thing they have in common is that they meet a user need. Help all your users get what they need by using a good structure and useful words. 

Headings 

Headings give people a sense that they are in the right place. They will scan the headings and subheadings. They should “tell the story” that the user is looking for. 

The Readability Guidelines suggest that you should 

  • Use specific, meaningful headings. 
  • Think about the value of your content, the channel it's on and the audience you're trying to reach
  • Front-load headings
  • Put the words users are looking for at the start of the heading. 
  • Structure your page with headings
  • This lets users find the information they want, and skip parts that are not needed
  • Use sentence case for headings and subheadings
  • Do Not Add A Capital Letter To The Start Of Each Word
  • Capital letters make things more difficult to read
  • Label your headings
  • Good HTML labels help assistive technology users to scan through the page, just as a sighted reader can. 

Paragraphs

  • Don’t give users a wall of text. Paragraphs should be 2 or 3 sentences. 
  • Left align text. Don’t justify text where space is added between words so that both edges of each line are aligned with both margins. It might look nice, but it’s harder for some people to read. 
  • Use sub-headings to help people find what they want quickly. 
  • Use lists, which are easier to scan. They should be numbered if there is a specific sequence. Use dots if the order is not important.  

CTAs and Buttons

CTA (Call to action) and buttons should

  • be specific, and make sense in isolation - so that assistive technology users can understand them
  • start with a verb - so that users know what happens next
  • have 2 to 4 words - so they are quick to understand
  • use sentence case - so they are easy to read

Tools for blogs and content pages

Readability Guidelines - a collaboratively developed, universal content style guide, based on usability evidence

Readability Guidelines App - A Google Docs Add-on to implement Readability Guidelines

Webaim WAVE accessibility tool - to check your content headings, alt text, colour contrast and other accessibility issues

Accessibility Insights for Web extension - from Microsoft

Links

Links (or hyperlinks to give them their full name) are the transport system of the web. They take you from one place to another. How often do you hop on a bus “just to see where it goes”? Links should be clear about their destination. 

Don’t use the full URL

They are hard to understand, and assistive technology will read the whole thing. 

Instead, use a shortened version, which can be understood out of context. By scanning the page you can see where the links go. Assistive technology users can also listen to a list of links on a page, and so a human readable form is helpful. 

Here’s an example of the same link, presented differently. 

Learn about links at Readability Guidelines 

https://readabilityguidelines.co.uk/content-design/links/ 

Make link text meaningful

Don’t use links that say “read more”, “more information” or “click here”. Links need to be understood out of context. 

Avoid mid-sentence links

Links in the middle of the sentence can cause confusion as they break up the flow. Put them at the start or end of the sentence. 

Underline your links

The convention on the web is that links are underlined. In paragraphs this is essential as you need to show links as clearly different to the text. 

Pull quotes

If you want people to read the whole article, don’t interrupt them. 

In print, pull quotes attract the reader’s eye as they flick through a newspaper or magazine. They try to pull the reader to this particular article. But when a user lands on a web page, they see the first part of the page, and they will probably see if there is more to scroll down to. As they scroll and read they will be attracted to the pull quote, and lose the thread of what they are reading. Or they might read the pull quote, only to have it repeated in the next paragraph.