When creating a successful website, you must always keep in mind what your visitor wants. Keeping them happy and entertained is going to determine how much text to put on your website. Here are some general rules of thumb for the amount of text for your type of website:
The Information-Packed Website
If information is what your customer has come seeking, (i.e. a blog, a how-to site, etc.) then that’s what you give them. However, this does not mean that you need a great deal of text on the home page of your website. You can provide a great deal of information without scaring off your visitor with a thesis-length welcome statement.
Offer them information, little by little. Create headlines and short paragraphs on your home page that give them a taste of the information they’re looking for. Tease them. Include a link to read more at the bottom of your paragraph. If they truly want more, they can click and read the entire article on that topic. This is good for search engine optimization as well, if you do it correctly and link using your target keywords. Generally, the deeper your visitors go into your website, the more they are interested, and the high ranking your website will achieve with the search engines.
If your website is your online store, then you need to be careful about how much and how little text you display. Give your customers a few sentences at a time. Think of it as a magazine that sits on a shelf at the checkout stand. Your visitor will pick it up and thumb through it, and possibly purchase it, if your cover is designed correctly. If there is too much text on your cover (i.e., your homepage) then you will lose a potential sale. Pictures are a must for selling most tangible – and even many tangible – items. Use a balance of eye-catching pictures and clever, descriptive text for your online store website.
The Social Networking Site
When trying to determine how much text to put on your social networking site, compare it to an email forward: If you open the forwarded email and begin reading, it is at that point that stop and think to yourself, “I don’t care what the punch line is; I’ve wasted too many seconds of my life reading this email.” Whatever the amount of text you’ve read at that exact breaking point is about three times the ideal amount for your social networking site. Hint: People visit your social networking site to do three things. First, to be amused. Second, to catch up with your latest life happenings. Third, to check out what you have to offer (if you are a business or organization). You must keep their attention for each of these purposes.
When in Doubt, Test
If you’re unsure as to what is too much or too little text for your website, then test it. Create two versions of the same page with the same purpose, one with lengthy text and one with shorter text. Track your results to see which one outperforms the other.