5 Tips for Writing Readable Websites
Unlike most other mediums, websites don’t have clear starting and ending points. Users jump between pages, searching for specific content or simply letting their wandering eyes lead the way.
The following tips are a great basis for writing readable, engaging website copy.
1) Keep sentences short
Large blocks of copy on a website are intimidating and cause readers to skip ahead.
2) Emphasize main points
Breaking up copy with section heads and bullet points help readers scan the page and find the info they want faster.
3) Write like a human
Using an overly formal tone online isn’t professional — it’s boring! Show some personality and your copy will sound fresh longer.
4) Be direct
Start with the conclusion. Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em. Tell ‘em. Then...
5) Tell ‘em what to do next
Links and calls to action guide users through as site so they don’t surf away.
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A look at the differences in writing for the web versus print and how to write more successful website content
When writing for the web — a medium that many experienced writers are baffled by and thus, having become so intimately well-versed in other mediums, including but not limited to brochures, press releases, proposals and reports, revert to their regular processes for generating content and become frustrated when it does not yield results as successful as they are accustomed to — it is important to pay special attention to the medium.
Although there is certainly enough information about writing for the web to fill entire books — and many authors have done just that — I have compiled a short list of some tips, tricks, best practices and guiding principles for writing content for websites in a way that is conducive to the web medium.
With printed material like books, magazines, and newspapers, the more content you have to print, the more resources are used, and the more costs you incur. With websites, however, pages can go on and on, almost indefinitely, and therefore are prone to containing far too much information.
The first of these best practices for writing content for the web, is to write using short sentences — that is sentences that have one main point and are easy to read. Writing copy in short, succinct sentences is important because users surfing the web move quickly and are quick to click away when their expectations aren’t met — unlike reading a book or magazine, where a user typically moved linearly from one page to the next.
Going hand in hand with my first point, large sections of copy — including both long sentences and dense paragraphs — take longer to read than bulleted lists, callouts, and section headings, which are a much better alternative to lengthy paragraphs because as readers scan the page — as web users tend to do online — these emphasised points attract the eye.
The third key to writing well for the web is...wait, are you even still reading this? Didn’t think so.