Bad Idea for Your Blog – Make it harder to Read

A recent study has been making the rounds, and has now made the New York Times. If you only read the first couple paragraphs, as we are all prone to do, you might get the wrong message:

Trick question: Is it easier to remember a new fact if it appears in normal type, like this, or in big, bold letters, like this?

The answer is neither. Font size has no effect on memory, even though most people assume that bigger is better. But font style does.

New research finds that people retain significantly more material — whether science, history or language — when they study it in a font that is not only unfamiliar but also hard to read.”

Well, keep reading, it’s an interesting study, but don’t apply this logic to your blog. Because people won’t start reading it, or keep reading it, if it’s hard to read; surrounded by distractions, or poorly formatted. The point of the study is that the mental effort that goes into acquiring information is directly related to how much of it is retained. But only material that is required reading can benefit, since voluntary reading is, well, voluntary.

Another study, coincidentally commissioned by the New York Times in the 50’s, showed that line-length, font choice, white space and other factors determined how far their readers worked through an article, as well as how fast, and page designers (who study good design) have been following that advice ever since. It’s worth noting that if no one reads the material at all, it won’t be retained, either. Making people struggle to read your blog simply means it won’t be read. Good design is good practice. Clear, clean formatting is still the best way to get your message across.

Leave a Reply