Readability: Optimal Line Length
Ensuring the right number of characters per line is crucial for the readability of your text. Numerous UX studies indicate that users generally perceive long lines of text as intimidating and overwhelming. Excessively long lines often deter users from engaging with the text, leading to a decline in comprehension.
As readability diminishes, users may fail to fully grasp the benefits of a product or service, subsequently deciding that it doesn’t meet their needs. In this article, we will explore the general principles of text line length and readability, delve into how excessively long lines negatively impact e-commerce users, and address optimal text string lengths for e-commerce sites, including accessibility considerations.
What is the Average Number of Characters?
Research, notably by mid-twentieth-century Swiss graphic designer Emil Ruder, suggests that the optimal line length for body text ranges from 50 to 60 characters per line, including spaces (“Typographie,” E. Ruder). While other sources propose that up to 75 characters is acceptable, variations may occur based on factors like language characteristics. For example, in Armenian, line lengths could vary slightly based on word length, but on average, the line should include up to 75-80 characters.
Downsides of Breaking this Range
Deviation from the recommended line length range has notable downsides. Excessively long lines can strain the reader’s eyes, causing difficulty in maintaining focus and tracking the beginning and end of the text. Conversely, overly short lines disrupt the reader’s rhythm, as the eye must backtrack frequently, leading to stress and potential information gaps.
The subconscious mind, influenced by typographic research, is found to be energized at the beginning of each new line. However, this effect diminishes over the course of the line, emphasizing the importance of maintaining an optimal line length (“Typographie,” E. Ruder).
How do Excessively Long Lines Affect eCommerce Users?
In the realm of e-commerce, where text plays a pivotal role in decision-making alongside images and multimedia, line length significantly influences user engagement. Regardless of the product or service, text remains vital for sections such as FAQs, payment processes, and registration.
When text becomes challenging to read due to excessively long lines, users are less likely to engage with the content effectively. This reluctance to read may hinder the decision-making process and deter users from investing time in understanding crucial information.
Conclusion: Striking the Right Balance
In conclusion, line length plays a pivotal role in visual balancing, competent UX, and the overall success of a service or product. Striking the right balance, avoiding both excessively long and too short lines, is key to creating a positive and effective user experience. By adhering to optimal line length principles, designers can enhance readability and ensure users engage meaningfully with content, contributing to the overall success of a website or application.