Using Content to Bridge the Convenience Gap

Jim has spoken before about bridging the convenience gap when it comes to live entertainment and how important it is to acknowledge the effort it takes potential audience member to get to your show.

One way in which you can make the process a bit smoother is by streamlining your website to make finding and buying tickets a breeze. To help with this, shared ways you can update your website content to make things easier on visitors:

1. Format your content for the scan reader

Online users are just looking for the bit of your content they care about. You may have thought long and hard about the different elements of your web page, but your audience is just flitting through a range of stuff, looking for the one bit that seems closest to the question or keyword that’s front of their mind.

Reading word for word online is hard work. We resist doing it until we’re sure we’re in the right place.

So to make your content look easy for the scan reader:

  • Do the squint test. Does your text breathe, does it offer the visual balm of a little white space in and around the words, does it offer more than a single entry point – or is it irretrievably slabby?Hold your text at arms’ length, screw up your eyes, look at it as a visual block – and ask yourself: Could I actually bear to read this?
  • Edit tightly, breaking up content into shorter paragraphs and shorter sentences. Use cat-sat-on-the-mat syntax and no more semi-colons!
  • Add lots of signposting. Make sure your Ronseal-like headlines are supported by informative standfirsts (which can double up as promos and meta descriptions), subheads, captions and links. For your headlines/titles, choose words that someone might actually put into Google if they were looking for whatever your content has got to offer them.
  • Break up your content with lots of subheads, bullets and (where you can) numbered paragraphs. Don’t be afraid to nest headings within headings, so long as the visual/informational hierarchy is clear. (In-line headings can work well too.)
  • Sprinkle your copy liberally with phrases highlighted in bold, edited so they could stand alone out of context and when read together quickly give the user the gist of the whole piece.

2. Avoid nerdview

When we’re talking among ourselves at work, we naturally start to use internal language, industry shorthand, handy acronyms and the like since our daily communications would otherwise become absurdly unwieldy.

But too often, when we’re speaking to people outside of our organisation, we forget that they won’t always know our words for things. Unexplained abbreviations, company phraseology and jargon can quickly add to their processing load.

This phenomenon of internal language served up to external audiences has been labelled ‘nerdview’ by linguist Geoff Pullum. Pullum cites the example of a car hire company which threw up the error message: ‘Please select a valid pick up date (DD/MM/YY) greater than today.’

Have you ever heard anyone say: ‘I can meet you later today – only it can’t be greater than 3pm as I’ve got another call then.’

Every industry has its funny little words for things. Staying with travel, what does ‘minimum board occupancy’ actually mean? What exactly is ‘through-tagged’ baggage?

And why do airlines insist on talking about ‘boarding the aircraft’? (‘Can’t stop – I’ve got an aircraft to board – need to leave no greater than NOW!’).

3. Tell people what they need up front

There’s nothing more annoying than getting halfway through filling out a form and finding out that you need your National Insurance number. So it’s good practice – and makes life easier for users – to tell them at the outset what they need.

Price comparison site uSwitch always tells you ‘what you need to have ready’ at the start of any comparison journey, for instance.


Get more tips to help your website visitors here. 

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