Writing For The Internet
People scan. And click. They jump around the page. They get bored easily. They don't finish what they start.
Consequently, we must write and format text differently for effective Web pages. There are several important rules to follow when publishing on the Internet.
Almost 80% of Web users scan Web pages instead of reading them.
Reading from computer screens is tiring on the eye and about 25% slower than reading from paper due to the nature of the medium.
Writing for the Web means making content
• scannable, and
• to the point (rather than full of fluffy marketese).
Visitors will have a low level of concentration and commitment
Every visitor to your website has a certain level of interest in your topic. Unfortunately, most of your audience will only have some interest. This may be due to limited time or a basic lack of interest. How often have you needed to know something but not particularly wanted to? Users may already know the topic or may be seeking knowledge in a similar but slightly different area.
Most readers won't read your entire Web page
Most will bail well before the end. How come? Because something you write will make them feel that you are not taking them directly towards finding what they want. Once you have captured a reader's attention with your headline, don't assume that you will keep that attention after the first line, second line or third line.
Clear objective of the page
Before you start writing, determine the objective of the page. What is its purpose? You'll achieve higher conversion rates by sticking to a single topic or message per page - that's why landing pages were invented.
Marketers understood that their general web pages were not converting very well. So they started creating stand-alone pages, or landing pages, which were created with a single objective in mind.
The need for landing pages tells us we are not very good at creating and writing regular site pages that are focused on a single, clear objective.
In print, the document forms a whole and the user is focused on the entire set of information. On the Web, each page needs to be almost stand-alone in structure. Since users aren't willing to read long pages, most documents need to be split into multiple hyperlinked pages.
Chunk your text into paragraphs no larger than 100 words. By using one idea per chunk, your reader can scan for the main ideas without getting lost. Each paragraph should only contain one main idea; use a second paragraph for a second idea, since users tend to skip any second point as they scan over the paragraph. Use simple sentences; anything complicated is even harder to understand online.
A user is happy when they get the information they want quickly and easily. Titles that contain the basic idea of the page can give some users all of the information that they need.
Use an 'inverted pyramid' style, much as newspaper writers do. Start with your conclusion. Then add progressively less important information as your proceed down the page. Users don't like to scroll through masses of text, so the most important information should be put first.
Compared to print or other offline media, users of the web are impatient and generally have a specific goal in mind before they even arrive at your page. By combining the principles of good writing with the formatting tricks of web authoring programs, we can create pages of engaging prose.
If you need any help in preparing fully accessible website or you need advice on how to write for the Internet - do not hesitate to contact us!