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Heading and the subheadings are the highest level of the formatting within your page. They aren't just a way of splitting up chunks of text. As we saw earlier they are also the main things that people scan when they look over a page, so make sure that they are summaries of the content they contain. If you are having trouble thinking about what words to use in the headings and subheadings, just think about the words the people would such on to find this content and then use those words. Obviously, the content within each heading has to match with the words you choose. Try to never use more than three levels of headings on your pages.
If you find yourself using more, it's probably time to split that content out onto different pages and link back to it, using the topic page format like we described in the section on arranging your content, that's in Chapter 4. Another thing you can do to help visitors out is give them a summary of every page, so they can quickly work out whether they are in the right place. You often see this in News articles where the first paragraph is basically a condensed version of the whole story. It works in news articles, it works on blogs, and it also works on the information sites and ecommerce stores. These summaries are also used for the description text in search engine results.
And as the text you put on category pages within your site, to let people know what they can find within that category. So you write the summary once, but you use it in many places. When it comes to body text, you can borrow another technique from news sites. They use the inverted pyramid style of writing. This tells the whole story in the first paragraph, then expands on elements of the story bit by bit through the article. It was originally useful in print newspapers when the journalists didn't know how many column inches they would have for a story. They had to write so it didn't matter if the editor cutoff the last paragraphs.
From a reader's perspective, it means that people can stop at any point and still have the main story. Or carry on reading to get more and more detail. Using the inverted pyramid style online means starting with your conclusion. It's okay, even if you give the whole story away in the first sentence, people will probably carry on reading. They are after information, so they will keep working through the text, until they get to the level of detail they want. Giving them the conclusion at the beginning means they'll know whether they're in the right place within your site or not. After the conclusion, start explaining the most important facts at a high level.
This introduces the key points early, write in small chunks and give each new idea its own paragraph. After you have dealt with the facts, you can start giving more background detail. Now, remember in the previous section we told about by writing 50% less text than you would for printed material. If you've done your job well with the inverted pyramid, you can simply cut out the bottom half of your text and still give readers everything they need. Another way of reducing the amount of text is to use bulleted or numbered lists. Only use numbered lists, if you're detailing the steps that somebody should take to do something or listing the order or ranking of a set of items, otherwise, use plain bullets.
Eye Tracking stuies show that readers loves lists, their eyes are drawn to them. Make sure you put the keywords at the beginning of each list entry, and try to keep each entry relatively short. I mentioned links back in the Navigation section. But I want to reinforce something again here. Links standout on the page, because they're a different color and should be underlined. That means that they are a way of highlighting keywords, so they show up more. It really make sense to write information rich sentences and then just highlight the keywords to form your link text, rather than writing the text and adding a Click Here link at the end.
That Click Here text tells visitors nothing when they are scanning the page, whereas the keywords are most likely just what people are looking for. So, by using clear headings, an informative summary, and concise body text, you will help get your message across. Lists are a great way of making several points in quick succession with minimal space, and giving people informative link text, means they'll know quickly where to go next on your site, which keeps them engaged.
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