How to write effectively for the Web

PEN!You would find that most people think that writing for a printed source, like a newspaper or magazine, is the same thing as writing for the Web. However, it has been found that this isn’t the case, with one study showing that Web users scan what is displayed on the screen as opposed to actually reading it. Material that is written in a concise, scannable, objective way scored significantly higher when compared to subjective material. Buy following these three premises you can greatly increase the useability of material presented on any Web site.

Good Web writing practices

Let’s start by looking at Web writing that facilitates the ways which people read Web pages. Writing text according to these guidelines will ensure a happy, and hopefully faithful, audience who will keep on returning to your Web site.

Make it SCANNABLE

Let’s face it, people don’t actually read what’s on a Web page. Instead, they scan and skip through what’s on the screen, picking up on bits that manage to catch their eye. That’s why it’s important to create a page that’s easy to scan, and this can be achieved by doing the following:

•    Highlight important KEYWORDS
•    Use SUBHEADINGS that are easy to understand
•    BULLETED LISTS are a great way to break up and summarise monotonous clumps of text
•    Present only ONE IDEA per paragraph, with important information up front
•    START WITH THE CONCLUSION using the inverted pyramid model
•    WRITE HALF AS MUCH as you would for print material

Be OBJECTIVE!

Most users are put off by Web sites that are boastful and which create hype about what they do. For example, you may have come across a site claiming to have the “CHEAPEST EVER” products or remedies which are “100% GUARANTEED TO WORK!” People aren’t gullible, and will leave a Web site that they feel is “putting one over them.”  When writing for the Web, your aim is to:

•    Deliver the STRAIGHT FACTS
•    Be honest and DON’T EXAGGERATE
•    DON’T BE SUBJECTIVE

The key is in being CONCISE

If you have something to say, then just say it! Web users are busy people and are more likely to read material in its entirety if it’s short and gets straight to the point. As a general rule, using about half the word count for the Web as you would for printed material.

One final note

With the incredible rate that the Web is growing, finding the right sorts of information is becoming even harder. You can make this task simpler by following the guidelines presented above. As one Web useability study participant poignantly exclaimed “You can’t just throw information up there and clutter up cyberspace. Anybody who makes a website should make the effort to organize the information.”

3 Responses to “Writing for the Web”

  1. skweekah Says:

    Hi! Welcome to my blog!

  2. skweekah Says:

    Great blog you mf!~

  3. skweekah Says:

    I have pilfered and I have plundered. I have become more powerful than you can possibly imagine! MWAHAHAHAHA!!!


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