Web writing tipsTo write well for the web, you need to understand what today’s Internet users want and expect.  Users want web content that:-

  • Is easy to skim & scan
  • Is written in a style that is direct, concise and factual
  • Is focused around their needs (not yours)
  • Has credibility and inspires trust


10 Web Writing Tips

1. Understand how users read on the web

Users read differently on the web – unlike when they are reading a book from cover to cover. On the web, users don’t read word for word. They skim content, trying to get a quick impression of what it’s about.  They scan for the bits they are interested in and ignore the rest.  You need to understand how users read on the web, then write content in a style that makes it easy for them.  More about how users read on the Web.

2. Write content that is easy to skim & scan

  • Be direct
  • Start with your conclusion – this is called the Inverted Pyramid style
  • Limit each paragraph to one key concept
  • Use meaningful headings
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists
  • Include summaries or overviews

Learn more about how to write in a style that keeps your readers reading

3. Keep your wording short & simple

Be brief and concise. Reduce your word-count to a minimum. Write clearly and simply. If you are writing for an expert audience explain your terms. Give your users links to simple  background information, so that the most casual visitor can work out what you are talking about.

4. Know your audience

Who are you are writing for?  What are their needs? What will they come to your web page to find or achieve?  What is their level of expertise? Build a profile of your various audience groups. Focus your content around your users’ needs and tasks, not around yourself or your organisation (user-centric content writing).

5. Engage your user

Imagine who your user will be, and keep that imagined person in mind as you write for him or her. Talk directly to your user. Provide interaction.

6. Build trust

  • Be factual and accurate.  Where appropriate, prove the verity of your information with links to trusted websites or by quoting trusted authorities.
  • Include only content which conforms to the purpose of your website.
  • Protect privacy and respect copyright.
  • Keep your content up to date.
  • Publish your contact details.  Provide users with a sense of knowing who is behind the website.
  • Spell-check your content. Invite people to report errors, then fix them.

Read more about building trust and website credibility.

7. Test then refine your content

First test it yourself – review each web page while imagining how it reads to a new user. Then test it on users to learn what works and what causes difficulties. Test your content on different audience groups with different levels of knowledge. Test web page performance in all common browsers. Test, refine, test, refine, test … (You get the idea).

8. Help people (and search engines) find your content

Organize your content so that your website is easy to navigate. Use hyperlinks to articles on your own website and to other helpful sites. Do keyword research to determine what keywords people are likely to use to find your content. Sprinkle your content with those keyword phrases, paying particular attention to your article title, headings and your leading paragraph.  Provide alternate text descriptions for your images (Google loves knowing what images mean).

9. Create the right tone, look and feel

When you create web pages, aim for a unified tone, look and feel throughout your site. Aim for the right tone to suit your audience group and your subject matter. Keep the tone of your website unrelentingly positive. Use multi-media cautiously – it should enhance the page, not distract the user.  Develop an appropriate identifying brand if you do not already have one, and include it on every page and communication. Color, images and the ‘tone’ of your conversation with the user all help to create a psychological impact on  your users, and help to communicate a subtle message about who you are.

10. Be generous with your expert knowledge

Users value expert knowledge.  It can be a draw-card for visitors to your website and it helps to build credibility because it establishes you as an authority on your subject. Don’t give your expert knowledge all at once.  Organize it into digestible pieces. Give a summary first, then let your users drill down for more details.

Jana Brech

About Jana Brech

Hi, my name is Jana Brech. I live in Brisbane, Australia. After 20+ years in the IT industry as an Analyst/Programmer, I have a passion for Usability. I love good design. Drop me a note to say hi, or leave a comment. Web Consulting, Expert Reviews

Comments

  1. mhrahman  April 17, 2014

    Measure your capability what your strength and weakness. Focus on strength during writing. If you want to be a professional writer, you need some patience and motivation. Hey Jana Brech, Thanks for your effective tips. Got something to be motivated.

    reply
    • Jana Brech
      Jana Brech  September 18, 2014

      Hey, mhrahman! Thanks for commenting. It’s a good tip to focus on your own strength during writing. I agree it requires patience and motivation … and TIME (something I am short of these days!). Thanks for letting me know this has motivated you 🙂

      reply
  2. Thomas Brew  August 18, 2014

    When I started blogging 3 years back, writing content was the biggest obstacle for me. I kept on reading too many blogs to understand the proper way to make a post more sharable and readable.

    With time I found some of the hidden techniques which are working great for me and I am writing good headlines for my articles now.

    Building trust is most important from the points you mentioned above, because you cannot hit the nail if you don’t know how to build the trust.

    It was a good read for today. 🙂

    reply
    • Jana Brech
      Jana Brech  September 18, 2014

      Thanks, Thomas. It’s interesting to hear your story. Good headlines are so important these days! I found an interesting article on the subject the other day http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines.

      I totally agree with what you say about trust. I think you have to know how to create that first millisecond impression that tends to win trust visually, and then you have to “build” it as you say.

      reply
  3. Pam @ Proofreading Services  September 16, 2014

    Hey there Jana! I love all your tips, especially the last one. You really have to know your forte, where you’re good at. In my experience, it’s hard to write something that you’re not even familiar, and it’s so easy to write one when you know the ropes of it. When you have knowledge about something, it easier to share that.

    reply
    • Jana Brech
      Jana Brech  September 18, 2014

      Hey, Pam! Great to hear from you. I totally agree – it’s much easier to write on a subject you are familiar with – and even then, it can take a lot of time to research the finer details.

      I love the final tip too. It is surprising how many people with websites under-value their own ‘expert’ knowledge. If you are willing to share that knowledge with generosity, the benefits tend to flow back to you.

      reply
  4. U.S. Wes  April 2, 2015

    Hi Jana,

    Good advice!
    I used information from your site with a citation in my paper for a HTML5 class at college.

    Thanks, U.S. Wes

    reply
  5. Sapana  March 8, 2016

    Thanks for another valuable article. I can see in your post itself that how your tips can make a big difference. I found this article very easy to read, engaging and most important to the point! Thanks

    reply
  6. John  May 16, 2016

    Indeed a great post about writing tips.

    I believe that writing quality is just like an addiction. If we have the qualities to write awesome content then our readers can easily get addicted to our content.

    All we need is to improve our writing style.

    I have seen most of the people don’t care about their writing style and just keep writing heavy heavy paragraphs. Instead of writing heavy paragraphs, they should understand that It can scare any reader before reading the 1st line of the paragraph.

    According to me, We should always write short and to the point paragraphs. Short paragraphs can easily attract readers and can encourage them to read the complete article.

    You have written such an awesome article. Thanks for sharing it with us. 😀

    reply
  7. SEO National  January 31, 2017

    In writing article in the web It is important that you need to understand how users read on the web, then write content in a style that makes it easy for them. Glad to read this post. Thanks for sharing.

    reply

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