Article length can be quite variable depending on the type of content you have and the type of company you are. For example a small e-store might have relatively short articles regarding shipping costs while a large engineering firm might have longer articles expanding on some technical know-how.
However, just because there’s no hard and fast rule for article length, there are two key rules that you should follow to arrive at the optimal length for the types of articles you’re creating.
One Article - One topic
This is rule number one, and there’s a few different reasons for this.
The first is analytical. If you explain multiple things in the same article, looking at your analytics, you won’t know which content your users came to see.
This will result in lots of false positives when it comes to reading your reporting and editing your content. Did users turn to article X for information Y or Z? What did they actually need help with? Are users struggling with this or did they need help with something else? You'll be relying on guesswork when it comes to questions like this.
Your search analytics will also not be as helpful, as you won’t be able to match search terms to articles as easily if articles are covering multiple topics.
On the user side, the reason is simple, when a user finds the article, the search for an answer should be over, not starting again. Most users are looking for short explanations or quick answers to quick questions, and the longer it takes to find those, the more frustrating an experience.
Don’t Over Explain
This one seems simple enough, users don’t want to have to read for 10 minutes what could be explained in 10 seconds, but there are also internal reasons why you should try not to be so wordy when it comes to writing out your help content.
Firstly, it’s much easier to keep smaller articles up to date than larger articles. If your content says more than it needs to, that’s just more text to edit when things change or get updated. This might not sound like a lot, but if you have 100 articles that need updating, and they all say more than they need to, that's a lot of wasted time.
If you really have to have all that content in one article, consider splitting it into smaller parts and linking between them, even better if your content editor supports interlinking, and users can flow from one right to the other as needed.