Writing for the web is quite different from writing for print. Web users want information. And they want it fast. A successful website is not just about stunning visuals and easy navigation. It's also about getting web users hooked on your words.
Chunk your writing
Think of the web as a linking mechanism made up of small chunks of text within your site. Start with the conclusion and briefly answer the questions who? what? where? when? and why? Linked to this will be the most important supporting information. This can then be linked to more detailed background.
Make the writing easy to scan
Most website users scan the text rather than read it. So use plenty of headings and point form. Simple headlines and concise summaries are critical.
Because your readers are skimming or scanning you need to provide hooks to grab their interest. Use engaging headings, a question, or an unusual statement.
Be concise and direct
Aim for your web text to be 50 per cent of the print equivalent. Keep sentences simple and delete unnecessary words - all they do is clutter up the page and complicate your style. Avoid padding phrases such as ‘The situation is that . . .' or ‘This website aims to . . .'
Avoid unnecessary instructions
Stating the obvious such as ‘Welcome to our website' or ‘follow this link', can become annoying to web users who just want the facts. Now.
There's a lot to think about when putting together a website - design, navigation, images, what interactive features to have . . . Although the first impression is a visual one, be warned: if web users don't get useful information quickly, another website is just a click away.
For help writing web content call Patricia Hoyle, Director of Concise Writing Consultancy, on 02 9360 3005.
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