Centered on the Web

There's a strange and rather unfortunate trend emerging in online venues.

From landing pages to websites and blogs, there's an inexplicable proliferation of centered text. It's particularly common on small business sites, where they appear to believe it looks arty or sophisticated.

They're mistaken. There's nothing inherently wrong with centered text, but it's extraordinarily difficult to read, so a little goes a very long way.

Let's look at some examples.

This is an excerpt from Case Studies | 5 Ways They Work for You:
Case studies are remarkably effective marketing and sales tools. They provide a structured way to tell a compelling story, and from the dawn of time, stories have been a potent way to share information or make a point. The best case studies include meaningful data, testimonials, examples and results. It takes time, resources and effort to accomplish this, but it’s worth it.

Here's how the same passage looks when it's centered.
Case studies are remarkably effective marketing and sales tools. They provide a structured way to tell a compelling story, and from the dawn of time, stories have been a potent way to share information or make a point. The best case studies include meaningful data, testimonials, examples and results. It takes time, resources and effort to accomplish this, but it’s worth it.

See the problem? Wading through this relatively short excerpt is a headache-inducing challenge.

Add in the fact that most people scan rather than read, and the absence of a fixed starting point makes this or any text very difficult to review, let alone process and comprehend.

This means if your business blog or website features centered text, it's likely you're losing customers and prospects. In today's fast-aced environment, few are willing to work hard enough to wade through a more than a few lines of centered text.

You can correct or prevent the problem by restricting centered text to these limited applications:
  • Brief titles
  • Brief labels for graphics, images, tables or charts
  • Brief product descriptions 
  • Brief phrases 

Notice the emphasis on brief? With centered text, less is definitely more.

You can completely circumvent this issue and create crisp, clean copy by adopting common business standards, which means you left-align all copy in plain block paragraphs and lists.

In work and life, striving to be centered is a good thing, but on the web, it just doesn't work.

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