Web Writing S.O.S.
February 18, 2014
In today’s sink-or-swim world of business, your company needs to be online – and use website copy that advances its strategy. Use these 25 web writing tips as a lifesaver to make your company’s digital content stand out:
- Write clear, simple content. Plain language is easiest to read.
- Cover only one topic per paragraph.
- Remove unnecessary words.
- Write in active voice.
- Limit page length. A page on the web should be half the length of a similar print document, so aim for 300-700 words for online content.
- Create headlines and copy that stand on their own, independent of other sections.
- Use a conversational, upbeat tone.
- Use the active voice and avoid jargon. Online readers find such bureaucratic writing out-of-place and simply ignore the message.
- People read 25% slower on-screen, so choose short paragraphs, short sentences and short words.
- Use an ‘inverted pyramid’: Start with a broad overview and narrow your subject as you go on. Put the most important content in the first paragraph.
- Think of reading a web page like reading a newspaper: Readers scan for headlines that capture their interest.
- Use headlines, bullet items, text formatting (bolding, italics) and clear navigation.
- Make your headlines and navigation items meaningful.
- Choose lists over paragraphs. Avoid long blocks of text.
- Consider pull quotes: Place a relevant phrase in large font to the side of the text.
- Write clear links; use 1-5 words for effectiveness.
- Exclude the phrase ‘click here.’
- Make your links stand out by using a different colour and keeping the underline.
Focus on your audience
- Give your readers the information they need.
- Help them complete the tasks they want to achieve.
- Use your readers’ language, not yours.
- Choose keywords your target uses for online searches.
- End with a call to action, such as a link, a phone number, a form, etc.
- Use images sparingly, as they can increase page download time.
- Only publish a website you can manage. Check each piece of content at least once every three months so readers receive accurate, timely information.
With these web writing tips, your company can attract web surfers and compete effectively online.
What other web writing best practices would you add?
Lisa Goller is a marketing and communications professional with over 15 years of experience serving B2B, technology and retail companies. She helps businesses tell their story through irresistible content marketing and strategic communications. Learn more at lisagoller.com
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