Writing Online Content

Writing for a website differs substantially from writing a technical report or article. People generally skim online content rather than read it word for word like a book or magazine, so make sure your copy is clear and easy to read.

In addition to keeping sentences short (use active voice) and limiting paragraphs to two or three sentences, online content writers need to break up the text into bite-sized pieces. The most common way to do this is to use many headlines and subheads to give the reader’s eye another place to land during the fly-by scanning process.

The time spent reading a web page is mere seconds, therefore it is critical to place the most important information at the top of the page — the reader may not scroll down.

Bullets, numbered lists, and pull-quotes are other great ways to let the eyes scan the information quickly and give the page pizazz.

But the most important thing to consider in designing a web page is your audience. What information do they need? What do they already know, and what terms are familiar to them? Provide adequate navigation and links to lead them to the answers they seek. Basically, put yourself in their shoes (imagine they are a size too small for you) and make sure they can get where they want to go in as few steps as possible.

Less is more, in the case of website design, so avoid the heavy textbook approach, as nobody will plow through all that information in this instant gratification medium.

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