When producing and designing content for the web, you must get the message across as quickly and concisely as possible. You need to say as little as possible whilst conveying your point, putting your most relevant content first.
Keep the ‘technobable’ to a minimum by writing plainly and openly and use a tone that’s appropriate to your audience.
Guidelines for better web content:
- Say LESS
- Use the Inverted Pyramid
- Put more important content first
- Use clear headlines and headings
- Establish trust
This is often the most important thing about writing on the web.
Most Internet users are generally scanning rather than reading – so if your content is concise, it’s easier to scan.
A good approach is to write concisely, then review it and cut it down again.
The Inverted Pyramid
The classic writing format is like a pyramid. It starts by laying the foundations, gives lots of supporting information from other research. It summarises the supporting info into smaller summaries, finally capping the work off with a brief conclusion.
This style is unsuitable for the vast majority of web content. A better way to write for the web is to use the inverted pyramid style, which comes from journalism.
The Inverted Pyramid reverses the workflow, by putting the essential information first, which it follows with further detail. The quick overview helps the reader get the point and purpose of a page instantly. It lets the user make a swift decision whether to read on for a bit more detail.
Put more important content first
If a page is longer than a normal browser window, putting important content first makes sure that it can readily be seen.
This means that your visitor doesn’t need to scroll to see the important content.
This also applies to paragraphs and sentences. By starting paragraphs with the most relevant detail allows your audience to determine what to read swiftly.
Use straplines and headings
A strong, attractive strapline at the top of a page can make all of the difference between the page being read or ignored. Headings allow your reader to instantly scan the page and home in on the content they want to read.
Good headings read like a bullet-point summary of the document’s contents, so a reader can scan down the page, get a quick idea of what’s on the page, and decide whether to read in more detail.
Remember that you are operating in an environment of low trust on the internet and that you only have a short opportunity to get your message across.
Try not to oversell. Just set out the facts plainly and clearly combining this with an element of enthusiasm.