In the world of web writing, it’s important to capture and retain the attention of readers. In order to do this, it is essential to use language that’s personal and upbeat.
In addition to that, avoiding long paragraphs is a must. Readers tend to make their minds about your content with just a quick glance.
Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is the cornerstone of writing for the web. It helps you tailor your content to fit their needs and establishes you as an expert in your industry. This builds trust and can lead to brand loyalty and sales.
Web readers are often on a mission to find specific information. They don’t read word-for-word like they do in print, instead they skim and scan, looking for key pieces of information that answer their questions or solve their problems.
If your content doesn’t answer these questions or make a clear case for why they should do business with you, it’s likely they will move on to the next company. To ensure you’re speaking directly to your audience, perform market research and perform task analysis to understand what people are looking for from your site. This can help you create personas that will guide your content. It also makes it easier to use the language and tone that will resonate with them.
Keep Your Users’ Tasks in Mind
Many people visit a website to accomplish a task, whether it’s buying a product, finding information about a degree program, or making a donation. If the content doesn’t help them complete their task, they’ll leave your site quickly and find a competitor that will. To make sure your web writing is helpful to users, it’s important to conduct market and user research, and understand how people use your website.
On average, web users read only about 18% of the text on a webpage. This means that you need to focus on making your content clearly and concisely written. To do this, start with the simplest and most clear statement about your topic, using the inverted pyramid structure long employed by journalists.
Also, use headings to break up content into meaningful sections. This makes it easier for readers to scan and navigate your page. It’s also a good idea to bold the most important words in a paragraph so they stand out.
Don’t Overuse Jargon
Using jargon phrases in your content is a quick way to alienate your audience. Whether it’s industry-specific terminology or acronyms like KPI (key performance indicator), jargon words are those that only certain readers will understand.
The most obvious type of jargon is technical or professional. This includes words such as ailerons and albedo, which only aerospace engineers would be familiar with. It can also include niche lingo that’s familiar to only a small group of enthusiasts, such as jugglers or classical harpsichordists.
Web writing is different from other forms of writing, including formal business communications and journalism. Web readers don’t read word-for-word, but instead skim or scan pages to find information they need. That means it’s important to write with this in mind and avoid jargon or other gobbledygook whenever possible. It can make your content harder to find, reduce media coverage and slash your social-media reach. It can also prevent users from completing the tasks you want them to.
Make Your Content Scannable
Scannability refers to the user’s ability to quickly look over your content and find the information they need. This is important because users don’t read every word on a web page; they simply scan for the information that matches their needs.
This can be done by following several best practices:
Use informative headlines to capture your audience’s attention. Use H2 to highlight content that is important, with any subheadings using the more generic H3. Paragraphs should be kept short – one idea per paragraph – and the use of bulleted lists helps to make your content more digestible.
Also, keep the number of words to a minimum and avoid using polysyllabic words if possible; these are difficult to pronounce on a computer. In addition, a large font size and bold text can help your reader’s eyes find the most important information. This makes your content easier to read, which translates into trust and conversions.