How to write for the Web

Forget what you learnt in school about writing an article. Writing for the web follows different rules. People want to find relevant information fast. They skim the webpage and only read when something catches their attention. Your job is to make your content easy to scan and interesting for your reader.

In this post you find tips on how to make your website more attractive to read.

 

How do people read on the web?

Eye tracking studies revealed that web visitors read the page in the shape of an ‘F’: the top, the left hand side and a small part of the middle. That accounts to about 20% of the writing on average. The readers skip straight over large blocks of text unless the first two words grab their attention. They spent 80% of their time scanning above the fold (that’s the top part of the web page before you have to page down) and only scroll further when they are really interested. Don’t worry they are still happy to share your post even if they haven’t finished reading it.

 

What does that mean for you when you write?

Get straight to the point. Place your important and interesting content at the beginning, ideally start with a summary. You have to grab your visitor’s attention. Otherwise he / she is off to greener pastures.

 

How best to structure the article?

• Structure your article into short paragraphs with 4 to 5 sentences or a maximum of about 80 words
• Use bolded or coloured headings and subheadings
• Start the heading with strong, informative keywords relevant to the content
• Use either a question or active statement in the heading
• Use bullet point if possible. They are easy to scan.
• Highlight keywords in the paragraphs
• Have white space between paragraphs
• For complex subjects which require long articles keep the main article short as a summary and link to more detailed explanations
• Add captions to images, people read them.
• Keep headers flush to the left margin
• Left align your text (some readers won’t even see text that’s centred).

 

How to write?

• Keywords should be in the front of the sentence, readers read first and last sentence
• Writing must be reader focused
• Write in active voice
• Use ‘you’ in paragraphs and ‘I’ in question headings
• Use numerals, don’t spell out figures
• use simple words – plain language see samples at: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/wordsuggestions/simplewords.cfm

Ads

• People read what interests them, sometimes it’s an ad

What about links?

• Links should be left aligned and reflect clearly the content of where they are going with the link, make them descriptive
• Don’t add too many links
• Make sure links open in a new window so readers come back to your side

Some of these tips are easy to achieve, others aren’t. I do hope it gets easier with practice.

What’s your experience? Leave a comment and share this post with your friends.

Thanks for reading to the end 😉

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