The Evolution of the Reader: Adapting your Writing Style for the Web Reader

The world of content has been growing since Guttenberg introduced the printing press in the 1440’s. In the 18th century, reading had become so popular it worried the public, saying the youth had gone mad with “reading fever” and “reading addiction.” People have been reading and writing for centuries; without much trouble, one could read a book with prolonged attention.

How the way we read has changed

Today, the amount of content on the internet far exceeds that of the physically printed word. Changing the way people read may seem detrimental, but even if you haven’t realised it, the way you read has been shaped by your experience, and your life experiences today includes a whole lot of internet.

This being said, I’m confident that if you were to ask a high school student what the last book they read was, they would struggle to give an answer that wasn’t compulsory school reading. However, if you asked what a recent online article they read was, you would quickly get an answer similar to; “Pick your perfect breakfast and we’ll tell you how you are going to die.” Not exactly deep reading.

Because our brains have changed to accommodate the extended use of the internet for reading content, it has changed the way we read.  Nicholas Carr explored this phenomenon in his piece; “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Atlantic’s 2008 cover story. He argues that our attention spans for deep reading have changed to suit a link-to-link jumping ‘scan’. We have become finely tuned to find information quickly, and when we don’t find what we want we click the next link.


Why copywriting must evolve to accommodate the evolved reader:

The web-reader skims and scans online content for what is relevant to them. Copywriters are the virtual shepherds of the internet, nudging and guiding the reader where they want them to be. Now that the copywriter is acclimatised, they can take advantage of Carr’s discernments.

Carr touches on important insights into the mind of the web-reader. He says; “hyperlinks don’t merely point you to related works; they propel you toward them.” The copywriter must use this information to choose the most appropriate link for said propulsion.

To understand how to write for an audience you must be aware of the way the person reads. These insights is what makes copywriters at Starbright finely tuned in the art of internet writing. We seduce the skim-reader into a web of links to further your business. We educate, train, engage and create awareness to propel your company to success.