Writing content for websites is different. You need to approach it in a very different manner than the way that you write for almost anything else. When writing for the web you need to consider the Visual Entertainment Factor (VEF).
Think about your own surfing habits. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a recipe for tonight’s dinner or researching the feeding habits of the deep sea anglerfish, you want to quickly and easily find the information in a visually pleasing presentation.
We are about to say the same thing about writing web copy in two very different ways, see which one you like best.
This is an example of how not to write for the web:
What’s Wrong with the Way I Rite?
Well, potentially lots of things. The first thing you need to know is, the internet is not like a book, or a newspaper, or a magazine or even a memo that crosses your desk at work. If I settle down with a good book there are three very important distinctions. First, I am going to read it-not Surf it! In other words I am going to pay attention to just one thing. Second, the resolution of the letters on the page is much easier on my eyes than words and letters on the computer screen. Third, I can read faster, about 15% faster on the printed page. This is because my eyes don’t have to make up for the lower resolution that exists on a computer screen (even big expensive ones!) Think about your habits, when you are surfing the web. Do you like to surf around to different items of interest? Do you like lots of pictures, images, and video to entertain you? Have you ever spent hours on Stumbleupon.com? Welcome to The Club. Finally lets talk about Stickiness. (No not the gum on the bottom of your shoe.) Website Stickiness is defined by Webopedia as follows: (adj.) When used in terms of a Web site, sticky refers to a site’s ability to keep visitors on the site once they have navigated there or encourage the visitor to return frequently (i.e., the visitors “stick” to the site). This is important because the more time spent on your site, the more exposure they will have to your Enterprise, your Marketing and your Message. This in turn, increases the likelihood that they will do business with you!
— We know this is an extreme, hard to read example, but we see this type of long unbroken text on websites all the time!
If I’m writing for the web, I can say the same thing in a very different form:
Sticky Websites are the Best Websites
- Get Visitors to spend more time on your Site
- Get them to view more pages
- Get them to return more often
More exposure means more business!
Why Should Writing Web Copy Be Different?
- People read a book, but on the web they surf for relevant web content.
- The resolution of the letters on the printed page is much easier on your eyes than words and letters on the computer screen.
- People read about 15% faster on the printed page.
The Best Web Writing has:
- Interesting Topics
- Short, Concise Info
- Good Organization
- Great Content for Web
- Your Personality
Which one was easier for you to quickly read and identify the key points?
Here are 14 guidelines every web writer should consider:
- Get to the Point – Start with the most important information first.
- Use an Active Voice – “I write for the web.” “You will like reading it.”
- Trim, Cut, Shorten, Spruce, Hack, Slash, Reduce.
- Fonts: Serif vs. Sans Serif – Use a clean sans serif font.
- Headings, Subheadings Chunking and Organization – Break your content up so its easy to navigate visually. Use subheadings to let your reader quickly determine if the content that follows is what they are searching for.
- Use “Levels” of Importance. Put the most important info first.
- Create Lists, Bullet Points, and Definitions
- Use Multimedia effectively – A picture (or video) is worth a thousand words.
- Don’t Copy from Word! – Use plain text formatted in your CMS
- Use Hyperlinks effectively – Link to relevant websites.
- Use Citations – Give credit where due.
- Offer White Paper Version – For those who want to download a PDF version.
- Consider Accessibility for people with Disabilities
- Put your Personality in your writing
Good Luck in producing web content for your website, remember we are always here if you need us!