...goes a long way, especially when I'm thinking about brands, brand management and the power of brands to build successful organizations and careers.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Doesn't anybody read long copy anymore?

A friend recently suggested that my posts were rather long for a someone trying to shorten his copy. While I admit that's my goal, I'm also getting a little frustrated with the widespread emphasis on short copy that seems to be chasing me. See this post for more about copy length.

So my question is: Do we have a problem with long copy, or do we have a problem with long, BAD copy? Isn't short BAD copy as much of a letdown as long BAD copy? How about if we just seek GOOD copy, no matter the length.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Michael Wagner said...

Mark - good question!

In terms of your postings - context and intent should be the determiners there. I know you and I highly value Kathy Sierra's blog "Creating Passionate Users". Her declared intent is to be a teaching blog. Long postings are not uncommon on her site.

If you intend for your site to be a newsy site that redirects people to linked resources, then maybe shorter postings is the name of the game.

But beyond this we see a kind of continuum in our world from the “simple and short” on one side to the “long and complex” on the other.

To argue that people only want simple and short is mistaken.

One example of this that has caught my attention is the increasing complexity of some very popular TV shows like ABC’s Lost and Fox’s 24. They are not stand-alone episodes but assume viewers are focused on the complex stories that build in complexity from episode to episode.

All this to say, you get to decide what it is you want to make of your blog postings (what I call your creative brand difference) and we, your readers, get to decide if you’re writing anything we might call useful (what I can your brand relevance).

9:58 AM

 
Anonymous Mike Sansone said...

We've all heard, "Copy should be long enough to do the job effectively, and not a word longer."

But that doesn't really answer the question. IMHO, I'd say the answer is No.

I think everyone scans long copy. Bullet-points, bold typeface, and blockquotes help us scan.

Still, if the writer has proven themselves worthy of my attention (as you have), I'll take the time to read longer copy.

As a reader, grab me above the fold or lose me.

3:33 PM

 
Blogger Mark true said...

Good points, Mike and Mike.

My goal is to be an educational site with an aim to be one-tenth as valuable as Kathy's. But I still have to grab them above the fold, before they even get to the second, third or tenth paragraph.

10:33 PM

 
Blogger Katherine said...

The problem for me is attention span. There is too much in the world to read these days, so I find myself more likely to read shorter blog posts. I'll scan long ones, but unless they capture me immediately I delete them off my News Gator.

10:31 AM

 

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