Creating a Good Piece of Web Content
Writing for the web is very different than writing for regular publication. The internet puts a wealth of information at people’s fingertips, so they expect information in an instant. Being able to provide that information in a quick, easy to read way is not always as easy as you may think. Understanding the difference between a blog- that is, something written in a conversational way, and actual web content and articles is important. I’ve gone into that before, but what is the basic structure to good web content? I thought I would go into that a bit in this blog. Understanding how most people use the web is important and as you create content you have to bear in mind a few things. You usually only have about 10 seconds to get their attention and then only 55 seconds to keep it and maintain interest. Bearing that in mind, think about what you’re going to write, before you write it. Sometimes, creating an outline prior can help, especially if you have a lot to write.
First of all- keep it short. Small words, short sentences, and paragraphs. Usually, it is a good idea to stick to only one idea per paragraph, but if you can blend them well, do so. If not, break it up into a few paragraphs. If you have an article or press release you plan to use in print and online- you only want to use about half the word count for the online version. It is also a better idea to open with the main idea, and then, sort of spread your point out, rather than building up to it. Also, using objective language can be a plus, just be sure you don’t sound overly promotional or as though you are trying to pitch a sale. Steering clear of promotional talks, exaggerated claims and really flowery, prosy sort of writing is usually best, and keeping it simple helps.
A few notes about format, you may want to highlight text, perhaps bold key points and definitely use lists and bullet points. Make sure that your headlines and subheadings are all very valid to the point, witty without being cute, and sharp. Think back to that usability survey by Nielson I posted- he did point out that 79 percent of all users on the internet scan rather than read word for word. Headlines and bullet points, as well as eye catching subheaders and lists are the way to get them to stop and read what you have to say.
The best advice that I can give, whether you’re working with a blog or with regular articles and content, is to read it back to yourself. If you find yourself lapsing into monotone and unable to digest what you’re reading, try paring it down a bit more. Especially when it comes to informative articles, keep it clean and concise and you’ll find that people respond to it that much better.