For relative newbies to the blog world, a few simple reminders from one of my favorites (thanks Aloke). This is one of the best concise primers for web writing I've ingested.
Posted: Wed, 30 May 2007 13:48:32 +0000
When writing for the web, use:
* shorter sentences, words and paragraphs
* one idea per paragraph
* concise text - half the word count (or less) than writing for print
* the inverted pyramid style, putting the most important point or the conclusion first.
* simple words
* objective language to build credibility, rather than exaggerated claims or overly promotional words like “great”, “tremendous” etc.
* bulleted lists
* highlighted text (bold or color, also hyperlinked text) for scannability (!!!)
* meaningful headlines and subheads, avoiding cute or clever lines
Write better web content.
Understand how people (don’t) read on the Web
1. Reading on the web is too much work!
Reading from a computer screen tires the eyes. People read 25% more slowly on the web than they read print material.
That’s why, web content has to be 50% shorter than print (gulp).
2. Readers on the Web scan text
According to a study by usability expert Jacob Nielson, 79% of readers on the Web tend to scan or skim text rather than read word for word.
Highlighted text (bold or color, also hyperlinked text) and bulleted lists aid scannability.
3. Readers on the Web are impatient
Readers on the Web are in a hurry to get the information they want, and move on.
They don’t have the patience for obscure and complex text. They don’t enjoy scrolling through masses of text either.
Since there are millions of alternative websites in cyberspace, they will quickly move to another site if they don’t enjoy the information gathering experience on your site.
Attracting attention and retaining reader interest is a challenge, specially as you have just
* 10 seconds to grab attention with your web site content
* 55 seconds to develop an understanding of your company or product
To combat reader fatigue, make it easy for your Web users to get relevant information. Put the most important information at the top. Use clear and concise text.
4. Readers on the Web are skeptical
Credibility is a major factor in retaining reader interest on the Web.
Use objective language, write meaningful headlines and subheads and avoid marketing jargon or exaggerated claims to build credibility. Cute or clever lines could mean that the reader takes longer to get to the main point.
Hyperlinks to the sources of your information or to related information also add to credibility.
5. Readers avoid information overload
In an average workday, people suffer from information overload . They already have a large number of emails in their inbox to contend with, and several documents to read.
They don’t want to spend time and effort reading content that they may not find useful.
Offer your readers information in bite-size chunks which are easily digestible. Use short sentences, short paragraphs, one idea per paragraph.
Use meaningful headlines and sub-headlines which help them nail the information they want, quickly and easily.