No matter how well you write, most people will, as Josh Schwartz, a data scientist at the traffic analysis firm Chartbeat suggests, read only 50% of your blog. Why?
- Because they’re busy
- Because they get bored easily
- Because they want quick information
Here is how people read texts on the internet:
The F shape shows that people skim through the text rather lazily. The first few lines are read, then a vertical drop and a read like activity again before another drop to the conclusion. That’s what writers get for all their hard work.
Knowing all this, it is easy to get discouraged. But don’t let it stop you from putting out your best work each time you sit down to write. Based on decades of research on cognition and learning, Richard E. Mayer, professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, proposed 12 principles on how to make multimedia more engaging. In this blog, we have tried to apply his principles to blog writing and/or any content that involves multimedia in the form of the following tips.
Avoid anything unnecessary
Extraneous words, pictures, videos, and sounds are better excluded from the content because they only serve to distract the reader. So, do not overload your audience with unnecessary or too much information.
When you create content you may see nothing wrong with your work. And you may sometimes forget that your readers have not had the same exposure in the subject of discussion. So, take a step back and analyze the text from the viewpoint of your target audience. If there are places where the reader might struggle, leave cues that highlight your intent like:
- Color changes
Segment your content
People learn better when a multimedia lesson is presented in user-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit. So, don’t bore your audience with large chunks of text. If the content is complicated, break it down into shorter manageable sequences.
Add graphics to your content
People tend to learn better and pay more attention to your content when it is a combination of words and pictures. In regard to their arrangement, Mayer suggests the following since improper arrangement will make people lose detail.
- It is better to present words and pictures near rather than far from each other on the page or screen.
- Corresponding words and pictures should be presented simultaneously rather than successively (in the case of a video or a page).
Know when to avoid on-screen text
Mayer’s research suggests that it is more appropriate to avoid on-screen texts when graphics and narration are used.
Also, graphics and narrations are a better combination than animation and on-screen text.
Make your content familiar
People learn better when they know the names and characteristics of the main concepts. So, use relatable concepts, analogies, and symbols to clarify your point. If there is a concept people will find difficult to understand, define confusing terms clearly.
Use a conversational tone
Think of your blog or video as a means of communicating with your audience. Merely providing information is not enough. Your content should make your readers feel like you are right there talking to them.
Avoid sounding robotic
When the narration in multimedia content is spoken in a friendly human voice rather than a machine voice, people are more accepting of your content. So, don’t speak in a robotic voice or use a text reader styled voice.
Do not make your content about you
There is nothing people hate more than self-important people. So, remember to create the content with your reader in mind. Make it about them, not about you unless the content is supposed to be self-promotional.
Content is most effective when the audience is engaged. The application of Mayer’s principles in your content will definitely increase reader engagement and help make you a better content writer.