If it’s hard to read, it’s hard to do

As odd as it sounds, if people find the description of something hard to read, they’ll also unconsciously assume that it’s hard to do.

Probably the most common mistake I see in sales page design is the failure to prioritize copywriting. Another common error that follows quite closely on that is to make the copy hard to read.

The key to a successful sales page is great copy that’s easy to read. If potential buyers can’t read the copy, they’re unlikely to be persuaded to buy from you.

That should be a good enough reason to choose sensible and easy to read fonts, but in case it’s not, here’s another reason.

The title of this article isn’t mine.

It’s actually the title of an interesting study by Song and Schwarz (2008). It’s also a bit of a spoiler for what their study demonstrated.

They ran three different experiments, but we’ll look at just one as they basically established the same thing.

A group of students were split into two and presented with the instructions for an exercise routine.

For one group, the instructions were printed in Arial 12pt, a simple sans-serif font often used for body copy. The other group’s instructions were printed in Brush 12pt, a more decorative brush script style font that’s harder to read.

For clarity, these are the two fonts in question, though at a larger size than used in the study.

Having read the instructions, each group was asked to estimate how long it would take them to complete the exercise program. They were also asked whether they were likely to make the program part of their daily routine.

What they found

The group whose instructions were in Arial, the easy to read font, on average estimated the exercise routine would take a little over eight minutes. On a scale of seven (seven is most likely), they averaged a score of 4.5 when asked how likely they were to add the exercises to their daily routine.

The other group who were given instructions in Brush, the difficult to read font, estimated the routine would take them just over 15 minutes to complete. Additionally, when asked how likely they were to include the exercise program in their daily routine, on the same scale of seven, the average score for this group was 2.9.

So as the title of the study says, if something is hard to read, apparently the reader will also infer that it is hard to do.

You may be selling a product on the basis that it’s easy to use, but a hard to read sales page could be making your prospects unconsciously believe the opposite.

Don’t place form over function. You may like a fancy font and think it makes your page look good as a whole, but if it makes any copy hard to read, look for something else.