If you’re putting resources on your website for your users, it may be tempting to keep them in their document format. However, there are some readability guidelines to keep in mind. We’ll cover how to convert your document to a webpage.
Use HTML format whenever possible.
Authoritative websites such as NHS Digital recommend avoiding PDF libraries. If you have a large volume of PDF resources to make available on your website, it can seem like an insurmountable task to convert them to HTML. But, it’s a worthwhile exercise. This is because most PDFs have accessibility issues. They are also not optimised for mobile.
Ask yourself what the document is for.
It can be tempting to put a lot of resources on the website if you have them, with a more is more approach. But less is more. Your content needs to serve your user - you should always be taking a user-first approach. By questioning the purpose of the document, you can determine whether it needs to be on the website at all. If it does, you can see where it should be categorised. Having clear categories and page hierarchies makes for a much better user experience.
Structure your content.
When converting your documents to HTML articles, make sure to replicate the structure of the document. This means carrying over any headings and subheadings that helpfully structure the content.
You may need to give your article more structure than the document you’re converting. This is because web articles require more scannability to be readable, compared to a document.
Break your article up into plenty of paragraphs to make it easier on the eye. Make sure you’re using an h1, h2, h3 structure to assemble your content chunks.
You should also ensure your content follows the ‘inverted pyramid’ rule. Your most important content should be at the top of the article. For longer articles, it’s also helpful to provide a summary at the top of the article of your key points.
Edit the article for readability.
Once you know how your content should be structured, you should edit your article for readability. This will have the most impact on your content’s usability and accessibility.
This can seem overwhelming, but it’s a breeze if you approach the task systematically. A good idea is to go through your article focusing on different text features. You could first edit the article focusing on long words. Are you using lots of long words where shorter words will convey the same meaning? Editing these will make your content much more useful. Your reader may be smart, but they’re also busy and as the search engine querent, they want answers quickly. They may understand longer words, but using shorter words will make the article less laborious to read regardless.
Once you’ve focused on long words, you can go back over and focus on long sentences. Sometimes we have a love affair with the semi-colon, the dash, or the comma. Before we know it, our sentences are running on and they’ve lost the reader. By being more aware of your sentence length, you can greatly improve your readability.
If you’re being really thorough, you can also edit your text for passive voice. Identify where you’re using the passive voice and try to convert it to the active voice. This will give your articles a directness that’s easier to read and trust.
Make it navigable.
To make your website easily navigable, the documents you’re converting to web pages need to internal link to other relevant documents. Make a note of any articles that relate to each other and be sure to link them within the articles so that the user can easily find more information on the topic.
Readable makes your systematic proofreading so much easier. We highlight your text for hard words, long sentences, passive voice, and much more.
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