How long should your story be?

Reader Skip Savage, commenting on Eight design tips for the Web, makes a beautifully articulated observation regarding site content. He writes . . .

“Great comments here. Such an important topic and whenever it gets discussed you get to see how the various schools of thought are evolving.

“Unfortunately, you always get a few third-hand ideas that have been recycled so often they come across as gospel.

“The one I worry about for designers and clients is the caution on long content.

“ ‘Nobody reads’ is a half-truth, and a whole lie.

“Truth is, if your reader doesn’t care about your topic, no content is short enough. And if they don’t care, you don’t care. Your site is not for them.

“But if they find your topic interesting, then don’t shortchange them with skimpy content. Give them the detail they’re looking for. Be their source.

“For example, this comment is well down a long page of text. You may have skimmed some comments, but here you are.

“So there’s no content that’s too long. There’s only content that’s too boring.”

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3 Responses to How long should your story be?

  1. Don Cheke says:

    Very well said!

    There are often times I have come across web sites where I wish wholeheartedly for much more information — usually artistic web sites where I want to know more about the person behind the creations.

    Although I have been known to contact the artist(s) to inquire, this doesn’t always seem appropriate.

  2. Sarah says:

    I agree. It really is about how meaningful and applicable the content is to me, the reader. If it’s meaningful, I’ll read three pages.

    I lead a blog for executives of our company. They write articles that they care about, but the “meat” is buried in there . . . somewhere. My job has been to pull the gems from their writing and dust them off so that readers can actually appreciate them. So yeah, it’s not so much about being short or brief, but making it clear, engaging, and easy to read. Concise, not academic. Keeping the audience in mind.

  3. Anne Anderson says:

    Sarah hits the nail on the head here. It’s not that people don’t read, it’s that people don’t read boring stuff. There’s a formula and an art to writing engaging material. And sometimes more is too much. I’ve had clients who’ve panicked believing that if they don’t swamp the reader with details and flowery prose the reader won’t be able to tell what a great event/cause/idea they have — event announcement postcards with way too much detail, articles that are full of high-flown corporate-speak and nearly content-free as a result.

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