Often, people have landed on your Web site because they are looking for information. They are hoping to solve a problem, answer a question or find contact information. People get frustrated when they can get their question answered quickly, and they will leave your site if they can’t find the desired information right away.
Make it easy for visitors to your site — anticipate their needs and give them what they want. Here are three questions to consider when developing the copy for your site:
- Who is your audience?
- What is the objective for the site?
- What do you want people to take away from the site?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you will be able to focus on how to write the information. Here are five tips:
1. Keep it short. People don’t read the web, they scan. Short sentences and even shorter paragraphs are key. Shoot for less than 100 words for paragraph and less than four paragraphs per page (less than 600 words per page). If you need more information to explain a topic, consider breaking it up into sub-pages.
2. Keep it simple. Usability experts estimate 30-40 percent of web users are “low literacy”. That’s why your content should be written at a 6th — 8th grade reading level. Use plain language will help ensure your readers understand the information. Check out this site to test the readability of your page.
3. Be direct. Convey the most important information and avoid unnecessary details that can weigh the reader down. Also, use action words to keep the reader moving.
4. Avoid jargon. Acronyms antd industry-speak can be confusing to the reader. Use plain language instead. If you must use these terms, remember to provide a definition. Also, remember to spell out acronyms the first time it is used on the page.
5. Format effectively. Bullets, lists and subheadings help people digest information quickly and easily. Also, it is helpful to link to other pages on the site that might provide additional information that might be useful to the reader.
What other tips do you have for writing for the Web? Do you have any pet peeves when reading a Web site?
4 replies on “Five Tips for Writing Web Content”
Hey Laura, great post. One of my biggest pet peeves is misspelling in website copy. Its crucial to put off that great first impression. After some interesting research, we’ve found that its pretty easy to lose a potential client or contact from a simple grammar misstep. Younger readers are generally more forgiving, but with a simple spell check, why not take the time to get it right? Anyhow, great posts! I’ll be back for more.
All the best,
Great tips Laura, Thanks for sharing some practical stuff here as I am still learning how to get the web content more engaging yet simple, this would really help.
I am sure you check out @copyblogger as well,Guys there also share some good tips on making content awesome.
Thanks for the feedback!
Nathan – Yes, grammatical errors are definitely a big turnoff. Unfortunately, the web is rife with spelling and grammar mistakes. Having someone review & edit is key.
Akash – Yes @copyblogger does an excellent job of promoting web content that works. On the web, simple and concise is definitely better.
I have heard the “6-8th grade reading level” used for magazines and newspapers, too.