How many people will have the interest and time to read a long article?
Writing shorter pieces is actually harder
HERE’S a question for readers, both male and female. Does length matter? Sure, ask any man that and he will immediately suss you out to see if you are being cheeky. I’m not. I’m not even trying to be sneaky.
I am just really keen to hear from you whether you prefer long or short articles when it comes to your online reading habits and especially when it comes to technology related articles, which is the space Digital News Asia (DNA) plays in.
I know you cannot give me an exact word count because who cares how many words long an article is! And, if you do, boy, do you need help! But think about it and share your thoughts with me.
I could ask Google but what it spits out is not important to me. Because I bet Google did not ask any of you, did it? And it is your opinion that is all critical to me.
DNA came up to two months young last Friday and we want to be relevant, we want to be the go-to site when it comes to any issue in technology in Malaysia. And, we are not always going to have juicy, breaking articles for readers. Many are informative in nature; some may even be entertaining and a handful, humorous even.
What really triggered this question was an article my co-founder A. Asohan wrote last week on DNA, Embedding Innovation in the Tech Ecosystem. It was a great article but even as one of the founders of DNA, I struggled to read the full article and started skimming at about the half-way point.
And in my heart, I wondered how many people will have the interest and time to read such an article, especially when our analytics tells us that the peak reading period for us is between 10am to 2pm. That’s mostly work time.
And in my previous workplace, at a staff retreat two years ago, the founder of that company also wondered aloud if the articles we ran there were too long as he too would not read the full articles. And, mind you, this was a publication that hits most readers during the weekend!
So what is your ideal length? You prefer long or short articles? As a starting point, I did ask Google but their 97 million references were no help to me and that is when I realised I was asking the question at the wrong place.
As for me, I am trying to write shorter pieces and I find that it is actually harder. You have to leave some things out and you have to keep asking yourself, “Will this point be interesting for readers?”
But I actually cheat a bit. I will break some of my articles into two parts to be run over two days. This way I get to write my over 1,000-word-long article! I have yet to get any strong opinions over this so maybe this is a great place to start?
By the way, this article is just over 500 words in length. But does that really matter to you?
This article appeared previously on The Malaysian Insider