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Reading more online

April 06, 2007

A preliminary report released earlier this week found that people read more online text than print publications.  More importantly the report found that 2/3 of online readers read the complete article once they choose to read the story.  This is contrary to what most people have thought about online readers; the common myth is that people just skim stories and very rarely read the full article.

The report shows that people will take the time to read a lot of information about topics that interest them, while they stay from other areas.  This can impact how organizations, non-profits and institutions write for the web. 

There are a few lessons that can be taken from this study:

  1. Customize your content for the reader Allow your audience to customize its relationship with your organization, including the amount and type of information they receive.   Allowing your audience to make that choice will ensure that individual members get what they want.  This is critical to developing a long-term relationship with the individual.

    Conversely, there are other times when you should customize the information for the audience.  The easiest way to do this is to provide relevant, local community information. Although this strategy can be time consuming, it is often worth it.
  2. Use alternative ways to display information The report also found that people retained more information when it was displayed in a variety of different ways, as opposed to just plain text.  Using images, timelines, Question and Answer sections, and lists are an easy to improve the impact of a story.


The full report is expected to be release the week of April 9th.  I will revisit these issues after the full report comes out.


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