All of our efforts to create a site that delivers our message, is pleasant to look at and easy to navigate is wasted if we donít give the appropriate time and energy to the most basic component Ė the content. Content is the cornerstone of your site and is also a major contributor to how well it will perform in Search Engines.
Writing content for your site can be a daunting task, however, some basic tips can get you started:
When writing for the web, use
- short sentences, words and paragraphs
- one idea per paragraph
- concise text - half the word count (or less) than writing for print
- the inverted pyramid style, putting the most important point or the conclusion first.
- simple words
- objective language to build credibility, rather than exaggerated claims or overly promotional words like "great", "tremendous" etc.
- bulleted lists
- highlighted text (bold or color, also hyperlinked text) for scannability
- meaningful headlines and subheads, avoiding cute or clever lines
Understand how people (don't) read on the Web
Reading on the web is difficult
Reading from a computer screen tires the eyes. People read 25% more slowly on the web than they read print material. † With this in mind, try to make your web content 50% shorter than you would in print.
Readers on the Web scan text
According to a study by usability expert Jacob Nielson, 79% of readers on the Web tend to scan or skim text rather than read word for word. † To aid scanability † of your content, use:
- highlighted text (bold or coloured)
- bulleted lists
Readers on the Web are impatient
The Web is a very fluid and immediate medium therefore Readers on the Web are in a hurry to get the information they want, and move on. They tend to be impatient with complex text and they donít enjoy scrolling through masses of text either.
As there are millions of alternative websites in cyberspace, they will quickly move to another site if they don't enjoy the information gathering experience on your site. † To combat reader fatigue, make it easy for your Web users to get relevant information:
- Put the most important information at the top.
- Use clear and concise text.
Remember it is estimated that you have just:
- 10 seconds to grab attention with your web site content.
- 55 seconds to develop an understanding of your company or product.
Readers on the Web are sceptical
Credibility is a major factor in retaining reader interest on the Web.
- Use objective language , write meaningful headlines and subheadings.
- Avoid jargon.
- Donít use hype or exaggerated claims.
- Use cute or clever lines sparingly as this can take the reader takes longer to get to the main point.
- Hyperlink to the sources of your information or to related information to add credibility.
Too much text causes information overload
With a seemingly endless stream of email and other documents to read every day, people will donít want to read content that they may not find useful.
Give your readers information in bite-size chunks which are easily digestible. Use short sentences, short paragraphs, one idea per paragraph.
Highlight headlines and sub-headlines to help the reader find the information they want, quickly and easily.