Chances are you've already seen and used the hypotext [+] symbol on a web article or form. Dan Petrovic from Dejan, also a blogger for Moz, developed the hypotext Word Press plugin that allows content developers to easily use expandable, hidden text as part of a content strategy to invite more readers to engage with the information they seek.
I'm typically not that interested in the latest Word Press news, but this piqued my curiosity. Why should content developers and strategists care so much about this plugin?
Petrovic's research came about after discovering that in nearly two decades people were still only likely to read every word of an article 16 percent of the time. He figured that if he could bring more people with to the same article and give them all a user experience that met their reading habits or information needs, he would be further along in solving the mystery of how to effectively write for the web.
People don't read on the Internet the same way they read books. The Web is all about scanning, but some people want to dive more deeply into rich content, and the Internet was made for them too. The problem has long been that lengthy articles tend to be more off-putting to the scanner-types, which happens to be the majority of people. Mostly, though, the extra content gets removed in the editing process, and what we're left with is yet another condensed version of writing that would be made more thorough, thought-provoking, entertaining or useful if the quality research that went into the original version were left in.
Petrovic's extensive, compelling research shows how embedding hypotext content into the article increases the time on the page for both the scanners and the thorough readers. Thus, he posits that there is tremendous opportunity to improve the way we write for divergent audiences. As a content writer and strategist, this is exciting.
I appreciate what Petrovic is aiming for through his testing. If he can find a way to get more visitors to interact with text for longer periods of time, he might be able to reverse the steady downward trend of shorter and shorter attention spans.
Are you using this plugin? Let me know what your experience has been.