Readers like articles that make them feel smart. I’d like to stake the claim that organization plays a major role in executing this effect. Organization is so vital because your readers have limited time and patience, so the important stuff needs to be established—immediately.
If you’re interested in how good organization can better appease your readers, take a look at the following points.
Get to the Point First, Explain Later
Web readers don’t have the time to wade through a few paragraphs to find an article’s point. So tell them what they need to know; this isn’t a time to keep secrets or leave them guessing.
You can get to the point in a lot of different ways. For example, tell them the answer in the title. Instead of something on-topic yet vague like Things You Should Know About Car Repair, try something like First Flat Tire? 4 Ways Novice Car Owners Can Keep Their Tires in Shape.
This may not be the most dazzling example ever, but those young people who are driving on their own will know that this article is for them. Seasoned drivers will know not to waste their time, but will find another article that answers their own needs. The title gives a hint as to how basic or deep the content will go, and readers like this tip-off.
The introduction is also a great place to let the readers know what they’re getting themselves into. With the car repair example, you can use the introduction to further define what constitutes a novice car owner. You can also establish if this article is a list of DIY tips or if you will be distinguishing between the easy repairs and the ones the reader should leave to a professional.
Hit Each Point on Equal Terms
If each section is treated with equal fairness and structure, it can go a long way to communicate your point and satisfy the reader.
Think of your sections as your children: you might have a secret favorite, but the readers should think you love all of your children/sections equally. It’s noticeable when one section gets two solid paragraphs, another gets a bulleted list, and the third has just two uninteresting sentences. The amount of detail and explanation you award to each section shows readers its level of importance.
So, as you’re planning out your article, make sure you’ll be including the same level of detail in each section. For example, if a home remodel article has some awesome facts about how much a kitchen renovation can boost a home’s value, readers will want to see those kinds of numbers for roof repairs and finished basements, too.
Compartmentalize Your Ideas
Think of your article as the plate of a picky eater: the meat cannot touch the potatoes, and the salad dressing definitely can’t get into the cornbread. Just like picky eaters, web readers don’t like ideas running into one another. Repeated ideas are annoying and don’t taste good.
This organization tip has to do with redundancies. It’s not fair to say that you have five tips to share when, really, you have three. You might think they’re separate points. But readers recognize the point you made under section 3 when they see it again in section 4.
When an idea spills into multiple sections, the information feels scattered. Before you know it, readers have given up on the piece. If it’s taking too long for readers to understand something, they might even think that the article is above their comprehension level and abandon it for that reason.
If it helps, think back to the basic outlining tips we learned in high school: lay out a few points that you want to make and stick with them. Keep the ideas that you have about section 3 only in section 3. If two ideas could be construed as too similar by your reader, write some bold explanations to show how different they are.
Consistently Remind Your Readers Why This Stuff Matters
You can organize each section in a way to include a reminder to the reader about how each section refers back to your controlling idea.
For example, imagine an article that caters to dads who want a fair trial when it comes to child custody. A basic explanation of the whole custody process is better than nothing, but dads likely won’t find this helpful enough. They want to know about how they as males can prove that they are just as deserving of child custody as their ex-spouse. So, what strategies would they need to use in the legal process? Give them details and consistently tell them how the provided info will help them.
If you feel like a basic understanding of your topic is important to your controlling idea, prove it. Make it a habit to conclude a section with a takeaway point that will show the reader how your specific tips will help them. Don’t leave your great idea in the introduction; keep up the engagement in each section.
When an audience sees information that is specifically tailored to them, they are more likely to use the information. Actionable, useful, and interesting information (with proper organization) does an engaging article make.