Writing for the Web: Keep it Short and Simple

by My Web Writers

Most writing classes teach students to spice up their writing with adjectives and adverbs.   Describe using all five senses and write paragraphs with opening and concluding sentences.

Then, along came the Internet.

When writing for the web, content providers must throw many of the “rules” they’ve learned out the window. Let’s face it: folks who are scanning their iPhones for information aren’t interested in wading through loads of description.

So save your flowery prose for that great American novel you’ve got up your sleeve. Here are tips for making your content work for the web.

 Headlines are Important

Online consumers know what they want, and they want to find it quickly. So, if you’re writing an article about planning a wedding, don’t write it in paragraphs as you would for a term paper. Try breaking up your information into easy-to-find headings that let your reader quickly find the portions that interest them:

  • Setting up a Wedding Timeline
  • Securing your Reception Venue
  • Selecting the Dress
  • Planning the Honeymoon

Bulleted lists are an easy way to denote headlines. Most readers scan online text visually, and bullets help them quickly find topics they need.

 Cut down the Text

Web readers don’t care much about your beautiful sentence construction, full of dependent clauses. They just want information, and they want it fast. So edit your text mercilessly, cutting any words or phrases that aren’t essential. In short: delete the fluff!

Before:

Not only can you indulge in soothing spa treatments in this freshly renovated hotel, but so can your cat. The Paws and Relax Resort offers complete customized service for folks with feline friends, focusing on Swedish massage and acupuncture. No other spas in town offer pet lovers such a delightful deal.

After:

            The all-new Paws and Relax Resort offers relaxing customized spa services for you and your cat.

Pamper yourself and your kitty with Swedish massage and acupuncture.

No other spa in town offers this pet-friendly deal.

Get to the Point

Web-savvy readers assess pages quickly – studies show that you have 3 seconds or less for a customer to decide whether or not to stay on your page. So, stick to the essentials and keep it short: short words, short sentences, short paragraphs. Write only one idea in each paragraph.

Front-load your information: put important topics in headlines, where they’re easy to spot. If you have a topic that needs lengthy description or a back-story, hyperlink to another page so that customers who are interested can click for further information. Keep web pages clean and uncluttered in appearance.

 Kill the Promotion

Studies have shown that readers detest “marketese” and writing that over-promotes. So, lose words like “great” and “overwhelming,” and use exclamation points sparingly. Keep your writing objective, and let customers decide whether your product is that spectacular.

~Susan

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Filed under Content, Content Marketing, Web Writers

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