How long should a web page be?

Someone asked the other day how long a website page should be. More specifically, what’s the ideal length for a web page in the B2B technology space, where you have to spend a little time outlining the business problem and the technology?

The right answer is probably what my English teachers used to tell me in college: as long as it needs to be. (Yeah, thanks a lot for that one.) It annoyed me as a student, so clearly I’m not going to tell a client that!

So, how much can/should you put one page that has to communicate about a technology or solution space?

• Too much, and you risk intimidating the reader who will just browse away – who wants to do all that work to read online?
• Too little, and you may leave questions unanswered – and sacrifice organic search as well.

My personal preference is to be brief – at most 300-350 words for really content-rich pages. But this means that, when I’m editing existing sites, I have to cut a lot of what somebody already took great pains to put there.

Some of the cuts I can achieve by shortening wordy descriptions, of course. But sometimes it’s good to cut content – things that aren’t directly important to the purpose of the page, or that won’t advance the reader to take further action.

When I cut content, I make sure it’s easy for visitors to find the information if they need it, with links to data sheets, stories, papers, and videos if they’re available.

Those are my working guidelines, but I’d be interested in hearing other opinions. Do you have examples of B2B websites that use longer or shorter text on their web page with great success? What guidelines (if any) do you use in your website copy – count the number of screen scrolls? Or do you adhere to the “as long as necessary” school?

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