Graphic showing glyph images relating to content length How long should online content be?

According to this Writinghood article, the perfect length is between 500-800 words; other people say shorter is better; but surely there’s more to it than that?

For personal/fun blogging I say do whatever you like, but for something more structured and professional , here are a few things you might want to think about: (feel free to add your tips/thoughts in the comments below).

  1. What is the content? For example, is it an introduction, a product description, a technical report or an opinion blog post? Each of these has a different purpose and require different treatment.  Thanks to @theaardvark  (via Twitter) who said that posts explaining complex issues (in his case VAT) need to be lengthy in order to achieve their purpose.
  2. What are you hoping to achieve? Do you want to impress the reader with your literary prowess, or prove that you are a snappy, swift communicator who cuts to the chase?  If you are selling something, which will convince the reader/customer?
  3. How much have you got to say? Are you getting stuck into a big topic, or making a short comment? A great rule of thumb from several people via Twitter, including @pigsonthewing “I stop writing when I’ve said what I have to say”
  4. What is the subject area? Some interesting research here into the average length of articles from some of the larger specialist sites. Tech stories tend to be shorter, politics and financial tend to be longer.
  5. Just text? Have you created a block of text, or will you break it up with bullet points, images, diagrams, video or audio? Additional content will keep the reader’s attention and make the article easier to read. @hainsworth tweeted: “Can it be read in three minutes, or can it be bulleted or paginated to more than one post? 300 words is usually enough”
  6. Page layout – How much room do you have? Do you want to go “below the fold” (will the user have to scroll down to continue reading?). Look at the page layout, font size – how will it look when it’s published?
  7. How long is the other content on the site – what works, what is the reader expecting? Are certain length articles more popular than others on the site? (Check analytics). (If this is a new site, see 8.)
  8. What are other people in your field / the competition doing? Are they right? Is it working? Are they getting shared/commented upon? Do you want to be different? Could you use the length of your articles to compete/make a point of difference?
  9. How often are you posting? Are you writing daily, weekly or monthly? It may be impractical to deliver 10-page articles every day, and your reader may struggle to keep up.
  10. Mobile – with the increase in mobile browsing, we cannot ignore the necessity for even shorter posts. They are prepared to scroll, but not endlessly. How many users visit your site from mobile devices? Is it worth tailoring content for them?
Do you have anything else you would consider, when writing online?
Further Reading:
You might like my article on > Top 10 Crimes of Online Writing