Writing for the Web: The Basics
Writing for the web is a totally different ball game then writing for print. People scan on the web, rather than savouring your every word. It’s just the nature of the medium.
With a demand for fast webpage loading times, an expectation that Google will immediately answer a query, and our mobile phones at the ready when we want to find a business phone number on the go, it’s no wonder that we’re impatient. We want what we’re looking for fast. And that includes information.
So how do you write for the web? Well here are a few tips to help you improve your web copy so that readers stay a while, rather than heading elsewhere:
Write So Readers Can Scan Through Your Copy
People scan when reading through the web and look for visual cues to help them find what they’re looking for. That means, they’re looking for markers like subheadings and lists to help them navigate. To make it easier for your readers to consume your content, make your text scannable.
- Break text up using descriptive headings
- Use bullet points and lists
- Create short punchy paragraphs to break up your copy
Invert the Pyramid
Forget what you learned in your highschool English class about writing essays, you know the idea that you build momentum throughout only to reveal at the very end your ground breaking revelation. No one has time for that. When writing for the web you want your conclusion to come first and then you want to proceed to illustrate your point through examples.
This approach allows your web visitors to get what they’re looking for right away and also prevents them from resenting you for time wasted trying to find an answer.
- Start with your most important information
- Avoid lengthy over explanations
Don’t go on endlessly. Be succinct. Be clear. Nothing scares away web readers like large walls of text. As we mentioned earlier, web readers scan, they don’t necessarily read every word. As such, provide only the essentials of what you want to say and nothing more.
- Edit your copy
- Remove everything that is unnecessary
Forget the Fancy Wording
Use regular vernacular. Huh? Exactly. Use plain English and don’t be unnecessarily complicated. Keep your wording and naming conventions simple and don’t be pretentious. Avoid using wording or phrasing that readers won’t understand. Aim to write your copy for a medium reading level to achieve maximum comprehension across a wider audience.
- Remove confusing terms and phrases
- Keep things simple
When writing for the web, you are writing for people – first and foremost. However, you want to keep in mind SEO – search engine optimization. To do this, you’ll want to think about the “keywords” that people type into a search engine to find you. How do your web visitors “google” you? By identifying these phrases and incorporating them into your web copy where applicable, you are boosting your SEO efforts. Granted, you only want to use these keywords and terms where they would naturally occur.
- Research keywords and phrases and then sprinkle your copy with these terms
- Focus on creating effective headings and links throughout your copy