Roberta M. Gubbins, Esq.
I Write Content--You Practice Law

Draft Three / blog

Writing for the screen

The "biggest change to law practice in our lifetime has been the switch from paper to screens,"said Robert Dubose, attorney from Texas, speaking at a conference of lawyers and judges.

If your audience is reading on screens, such as you are doing right now, the writer, he argued, needs to be aware of how people read on their e-reader, iPad or Smartphone. Quoting from Jakob Nielsen's research, he said one,  people don't read, they scan; and, two, they scan in an F shape pattern. Readers start in the upper left corner, take two horizontal swipes across the page, then swipe vertically down the left. Three, readers look most above the fold or at the top of the page.

How does that affect your webpage design?
  • Put the most important content first--no need for a fancy intro.
  • Don't center text and keep headers flush to the left margin
  • Make webpage text easy to scan by using bold headers and bullet lists 
Credibility is important to web visitors. They will ignore a page that looks like an ad or uses market hype. They are busy people who want the straight facts.

Dubose recommended lawyers design legal documents to look like a web page using the same principles:
  • Short text
  • Focus on Headings
  • Bookmarks over to the side, and include
  • Summaries, which are critical.  
The goal for the lawyer writing a brief that is read on a screen is to make it "as easy to get information from our brief as possible." And readers want that information fast.

That is the same goal for the lawyer writing a blog post for clients. You need to make it easy for your client to get your message as quickly and as easily as possible.

For more information on eye tracking: