Having an effective, interactive website is a must for any organization. Since people tend to skim online, the key to good web content writing is to make sure visitors know immediately what the site is about and how they can benefit from the information that’s provided. It takes a blend of inviting visuals, compelling headlines and text, as well as some kind of interactivity, in order to maintain interest and assess audience response.
Writing for the Web
When writing for the web, using plain language allows users to find what they need, understand what they have found, and then use it to meet their needs. It should also be actionable, findable, and shareable.
It’s important to understand how what you are writing fits into your overall content and SEO strategy.
Why it Matters
People read differently online than they do when they read print materials — web users typically scan for information. Studies have shown that average webpage visitors have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit.
Identify Your Users’ Top Tasks
People come to your website with a specific task in mind. When developing your site’s content, keep your users’ tasks in mind and write to help them accomplish those tasks, otherwise they’ll leave. Conduct market research, task analysis and other types of user research, and analyze metrics to better understand what users are looking to accomplish.
Write User-Friendly Content
It’s important to target your audience when writing for the web. By knowing who you are writing for, you can write at a level that will be meaningful for them.
- Use the words your users use. You will help them understand the text and optimize it for search engines
- Chunk your content. Chunking – breaking content into manageable sections – makes your content more scannable.
- Front-load the important information. Start with the content that is most important to your audience, and then provide additional details.
- Use pronouns. The user is “you.” The organization or government agency is “we.” This creates cleaner sentence structure and more approachable content.
- Use active voice. “The board proposed the legislation” not “The regulation was proposed by the board.”
- Use short sentences and paragraphs. A general guide is no more than 20 words per sentence, five sentences per paragraph. Use dashes instead of semi-colons or, better yet, break the sentence into two. It is ok to start a sentence with “and,” “but,” or “or” if it makes things clear and brief.
- Use bullets and numbered lists. Don’t limit yourself to using this for long lists—one sentence and two bullets is easier to read than three sentences.
- Use clear headlines and subheads. Questions, especially those with pronouns, are particularly effective.
- Use images, diagrams, or multimedia to visually represent ideas in the content. Videos and images should reinforce the text on your page.
Website Writing Content Portfolio
Airbus • Amgen • The Annie E. Casey Foundation • Becton Dickinson (BD) • Berlitz International • Children’s Television Workshop • Citibank • Deloitte & Touche • The Forest Stewardship Council • GartnerGroup • GE Capital • IBM • Johnson & Johnson • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society • The New York Academy of Sciences • The New York Blood Center • New York Public Library • The New York Times Company • Pfizer • Pitney Bowes • The Rockefeller Brothers Fund • Save the Children • Thomas Jefferson University Hospital • UNICEF • Unilever • University of Connecticut • Wyeth • Yale-New Haven Hospital
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