To think readers want to read every word I vomit is arrogant and self-serving. I strive to say what I need to say, not one word more or less. Still, I wonder if there is an ideal length (not too short, not too long) for a web page.
I found several reliable sources for the ideal length for a web page …
I found this with a quick Google search: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/percent-text-read.html
This study is dated 2008. I doubt online reading habits have changed much since. Naturally, the longer the page, the fewer number of people who read all of the text. However, the sharpest decline seems to be at about 200 to 300 words.
I like a lot of what Bob Bly writes about writing. I found this excerpt on his enewsletter (http://www.bly.com/archive/?p=111):
According to web expert Gerry McGovern, the ideal length for a
page of web copy on a regular web site (not a landing page) is
300 words. He says 50% of visitors will read a 300-word page to
the end, while only 5% will scan 1,000 words.
Headlines should be 4 to 8 words, sentences 15 to 20 words, and
paragraphs 40 to 70 words. Hyperlinks should be in the right-hand
column, not embedded within the body copy. Reason: links in the
body copy distract readers, making it difficult for them to read
This provides a practical rule of thumb.
300 words seems reasonable to me. It gets tough to keeping online reader engaged for more than that. If I have more content than that on the subject, I need to either condense the content (always good to do anyway), spread the content to multiple web pages (yikes!), or encapsulate in a different medium (such as video).