It’s the best-read element on your web page
Decks — those one-sentence summaries under your headlines — do the heavy lifting on a web page.
Indeed, according to The Poynter Institute’s Eyetrack III study of reader behavior:
- 95% of visitors to a web page read all or part of the deck. That’s huge when compared with any other element on the page.
- Visitors spend five to 10 seconds, on average, looking at the deck. That seems like a flash, but it’s actually a substantial investment in a scanner’s time.
- Decks “may be the only thing many readers view,” Eyetrack III researchers say.
If you want visitors to pay attention to your point, the researchers say, put it in the deck. Yet too many corporate communicators drop this power tool of communication.
All hands on deck.
No doubt about it: Decks are power tools of communication. Decks are important because they:
- Orient visitors at a glance, letting them know whether they’ve arrived at the right place
- Offer a second layer of detail to scanners who don’t read word by word
- Are the best-read element on a web page
(Not sure what the deck is? The deck for this piece is “It’s the best-read element on your web page.”)
Put your message where your deck is.
To write an effective deck:
- Explain your message in one sentence. Make it a full sentence.
- Tell, don’t tease. Don’t try to trick visitors into reading the page. Instead, summarize the page so well that visitors can get the gist of the story without reading the text.
- Don’t repeat yourself. A deck is an extension of the headline. It should expand on the headline, not duplicate it. So don’t repeat a single word from the headline in the deck.
- Use sentence capitalization but don’t include a period. Sentence Capitalization is Fresher and More Contemporary than Title Capitalization.
- Keep it short. Aim for 14 words or fewer. That length is easy for people to read and understand, according to research by the American Press Institute. People read decks because they’re short and easy to scan. If your deck becomes a paragraph, it will lose its power to attract.
Most of all, don’t drop the deck — from web pages, blog posts and other pieces. Why skip the most important element of your piece?