The one thing that's missing in AI for excellent content

Why you still need a copywriter or content producer: scannability

Here’s all you need to know as a manager about why AI can’t replace your copywriters and content producers (yet). As great as AI can be for inspiration, research, and content production, there’s one thing missing.

Or, actually, two.

  • First, the validity check. This is a no-brainer by now. After AI creates your content, you have to check if it all makes sense. And you have to fine-tune the content a bit to make it more human and on brand.
  • Second, unknown to most, the visual design of the copy for scannability. That means as much as making your content look sexy — accessible, light, airy, easy on the eye, and fun to read. So you can easily jump from paragraph to paragraph, read what interests you, and skip the rest. This is an irreplaceable value of human creativity, intuition, and craftmanship. 


Content scannability: a key skill 

The scannability of your copy acts like the navigation or your content. Your readers scan and pick out the headlines, highlighted words, bulleted lists, and links.

It’s all about how you present your content so it can be scanned easily by your reader to analyze whether it's interesting to them.  This is nothing new; already used in newspapers and magazines for many years.

How do you design your copy so it’s scannable?

  1. Visual hierarchy: 3 font styles in formatting
  2. Whitespace: the strongest design element to enhance scannability
  3. CTA: always in first view and above the fold
  4. Tips from experience

Let’s start with the visual hierarchy of your copy.


1. Effective use of visual hierarchy in copy

Some short background theory. The visual hierarchy is based on the Gestalt psychological theory to present the content in such a way the reader understands the importance of each element. It activates the brain to distinguish between objects based on physical differences such as size, color, contrast, and alignment.

In short, hierarchy in your copy by using font styles to improve scannability.

I recommend sticking to two or three styles to keep it clean and simple. Header, sub-header, body. That’s it.

If content looks cluttered, unorganized, and complicated, it probably has too many font styles, from headers to bold, italics to a colorful Christmas tree, and too many emoticons.

  • Bold: use this every now and then to emphasize sentences or words
  • Paragraphs: many and very short ones grouped together by a sub-header
  • Bullets and lists: great for drawing immediate attention and organizing your text
  • Infographics and tables: a visual summary of your copy and brings all to life


use bold for hierarchy


2. Maximize impact with whitespace

This might be the strongest design element available. Using whitespace makes your content light, airy, accessible, and easy to scan and read. If there's not enough space between the elements, they become hard to access and digest and demand additional effort from the reader.

Don't fall for the trap of squeezing in as much copy as possible in the first view above the fold. If the copy is cramped together, it looks inaccessible, and no one will read it, let alone scroll down to read more.

use whitespace for hierarchy

Avoid large chunks of text. It's not only not scannable, it also demands effort and energy to start reading it.


3. Strategic placement of your CTA 

For the CTA, there is one specific rule. You use a CTA to show the reader what actions they can take or do on the page.

Always place it in the first view and above the fold so that it can be seen at once. By preference, it stands out, like a button or in a very strong color.

AI can't define nor place your CTA; that's a human skill. 


4. Practical tips for content design from experience

Apply numbers for credibility
Apply numbers, not words. Eye-tracking studies showed that in the process of scanning web pages, numerals often stop the wandering user's eye and attract fixations. We subconsciously associate numbers with facts, stats -- data that's potentially useful. Next to this, digits boost credibility by making your pages seem more useful. 


The power of color in copywriting
Colors influence mood and behavior; we subconsciously react to them. There's a whole science behind this. You can use it for your headers and subheaders to stand out from the body copy. That said, stick to two or three colors for all your copy.

Also, keep the dark mode on mobile in mind when you design your copy; about 80% of people use this setting.


Ensure mobile compatibility: a crucial check
How does your page look on a mobile? Is it something you would read yourself? Is it easy to scan? Is there a hierarchy in the copy where your eye can jump from element to element without getting lost or scrolling too long?

Iterate and test. And always, always do the final review of the design of your copy and how your readers read it on a mobile device. Not a desktop.


Why you still need a copywriter or content producer

AI can do a lot of the grinding work. What AI can’t do (yet) is the visual design of your copy. To make it scannable and look sexy on a mobile.

That’s something you still have to do yourself. While the copywriter or content producer works on this, he or she can do the validity check as well. 

Speaking from experience, the real finetuning and making my content look sexy happens last. After I upload the content in the CMS, I publish it, and then I get my iPhone to check how my copy and visuals look on the small screen. That process often takes about as much time as producing it with AI.

And that, that is exactly why you can’t replace your copywriters and content producers with AI (yet). It’s the human factor that creates the final magic and sprinkles the stardust. Copywriting and content creation is a craft for a reason.


In summary

  1. Visual hierarchy: 3 font styles in formatting
  2. Whitespace: the strongest design element to enhance scannability
  3. CTA: always in first view and above the fold


 And perfecting the scannability of your content is an irreplaceable value of human creativity, intuition, and craftmanship.