Writing for the Web

Writing for the Web

If you are new to writing professionally, or more used to writing for printed publications, writing for the web presents interesting and unique challenges.

If you fail to address these challenges then your message is likely to fall short of its target – no matter how interesting your content is.

I often read articles on the web written by excellent authors, who fail to address these challenges.  So I decided to share my ‘writing for the web top tips’.

Web Readers Skim Text

Web readers skim read.  They are time-poor and bombarded by messages every day – so you have just a few seconds to let them know what you are saying and whether it’s worth reading.

As such, you need to break content up and make it easy to skim read:

  • Use bullet points – lists presented like this one are a great way to allow your readers to skim the text, whilst simultaneously presenting more detail should they require it.
  • Add subheadings – use more subheadings than you would normally do, use them to reinforce your message.
  • Short paragraphs & sentences – limit the length of paragraphs and sentences; this prevents your readers from becoming overwhelmed.
  • Bold text and italics – highlight important phrases and keywords where possible, this helps your readers and search engines know what your most important points are.
  • Use simple language – don’t try and win awards for your use of a thesaurus, I’m not saying dumb down your content, but keep your language clear and efficient.
  • Short articles – OK, so this is going to depend on your audience and your content, but generally speaking, keep your articles short and to the point.  Don’t stray from the topic at hand.  A good size for a blog post is usually somewhere between 300 and 600 words.

Web Readers are Click Happy

Web readers look for links, and they like clicking them!  So think carefully how you use links when writing for the web.

Linking to relevant content is a good idea, just be careful – you may send your readers away to another page before they’ve read what you want them to read!

To counter this, you can open links in a new window, although this may irritate some readers – there is no right or wrong answer, trial and error is the order of the day.

Images are the New Headlines

Headlines are fundamentally important to draw your readers in and encourage them to read your article – the headline is the element that people read first before deciding whether they will continue.

But in the world of the web and social sharing, readers increasingly consider images first – before text content and even the headline.  As such, it’s important that you choose at least one striking and relevant image for your content.

This is particularly important when it comes to sharing, without a featured image in your page, your social media shares will be missing a thumbnail and much less likely to be clicked on.

Writing for the Web

Ok so we’ve just about scratched the surface of writing for the web, there is so much more we could talk about.  What have you found to be effective in this unique medium?  The comments are open!

About Jake Dyson

Jake is the Founder of Geeksy. He regularly writes for the Geeksy blog, across a range of marketing subjects. Find Jake on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

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