Writing for the Web
Writing for the Web is a matter of common sense and adjusting your writing style. The way website visitors read copy is unique and is nothing like when they read a book. If anything reading on the Web resembles the way we read a newspaper. The eye jumps around, on a webpage, looking at headings, titles and boldface text only then settling on those areas of copy that piques an interest or satisfies a need.
Even when the visitor decides to read a particular block of text they will tend to skim through it gleaning only those bits of information that interest them. As a result if you want to make your content sticky it must be brief, ripe with ideas and focused only on relevant content. Filling your webpages with needless content will only increase its bulk and do nothing to retain visitors.
No successful website wastes any space on filler copy. Filler copy is copy which is written to take up space or feed keywords to the search engines and imparts little knowledge to the people reading it. Even if the search engines take the bait and index your website based on these keywords your visitors will be few and they won't stay long.
Importance of Good Content
Good content is crucial to visitor retention. Having your website visitors stay awhile and brouse through the deeper areas of your site will increase the chances that your message will be understood and acted upon. This is the key to selling your product or advancing your ideas.
Don't make the mistake of believing that raw content filled with keywords is all that is necessary for developing a winning website. A few well developed paragraphs are better than pages of wordy explanations. Time spent distilling your content into its basic tenants will always be time well spent.
Web Writing Tips
There are several factors which when properly applied will improve your writing skills and add to visitor satisfaction. They are not difficult to learn and the results will surprise you. They are;
Make titles clear and catchy - Brief titles that say volumes are the best. Distill the subject into a 3 - 7 word phrase for best results.
Avoid wordy introductions - People are bored easily and are turned off by wordy introductions. Get to the point quickly in every paragraph that you write.
Make the subject of the content clear at the start - Begin each text block with an explanation of the content that will follow.
Be clear and to the point - Never be too wordy but use as few words as possible to make your point. Brief sentences and paragraphs make reading easier.
Logical structure - Move from title to subject to conclusion in each block of text. Disjointed and illogical copy will damage any ideas that you are attempting to present.
Stick to the presentation of solid information - Every line should provide information about the subject at hand. Facts beat fiction when information is at stake.
Optimize your word count - 600 to 800 words is an optimum size for articles and subject topics. This is a good rule of thumb for any webpage.
Present a clean copy layout without frills - When viewing a webpage the visitor should not be presented with a sloppy or disjointed layout.
Use a sans serif font - Frivolous type fonts make web copy difficult to read and tend to turn visitors off. Clean and simple text fonts work best.
Make copy easy to scan - Webpage text should flow from idea to idea and not ramble. When presenting a subject develop it in obvious steps.
Use bullets and subtitles - Using bullets and subtitles will make ideas and points of interest pop out of the page.
Lists are effective for the visitor - Lists are the best way to show the logical progression of any subject matter or argument.
Spelling must be correct - Poor spelling conveys an impression of ignorance. Most visitors will see this as a sign of poor credibility.
Use proper grammar - Poor grammar has the same effect as poor spelling. Know how to communicate your subject matter properly and always proof read your copy.
Strive for clear and brief text blocks - Avoid wordiness in your web copy. Keep your sentences and paragraphs tight and poignant.
Whitespace is better than graphics - The eye follows borders and blank spaces when viewing a webpage. Use these wisely.
Graphics should be an extension of the text content - When using graphics always be sure that they expand on or emphasize the content that they support.
Gene DeFazzio is the webmaster and author of the Rocketface(R) Workshop http://www.rocketface.com/ - A informational website for novice webmasters and home of the comprehensive webmasters tutorial “How to Design a Website".