Monday, November 14, 2011

4 Tips for Writing Effective Web Content

Submitted by Brittany Miller

Lets face it: people are busy. When they go to the web looking for answers they want to grab information quickly. Most people will spend a very short amount of time on a webpage and typically only read a few words or paragraph before deciding if the content is worth their time. So how do you make it easier for people visiting your website to find the information they need and keep coming back to you for more? By writing great content!

Writing effective content for the web may seem like a daunting task but it is actually a lot easier if you know how to write for the web. It is a very different writing style but trust me, you can do it! A book that helped me tremendously early on in my career was Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works, by Janice Redish. This has become a go-to resource for me when it comes to writing content for the web.
In the spirit of this great book, I have created this list of 4 tips you need to know to write effective web content.

Give People What They Need

When writing content for your website, think about what is important to your visitors. What questions are they trying to answer when they come to your site? You market yourself best when you give users the information they are looking for and get rid of all the extra content that does not answer their questions. Sticking to facts and relevant information is crucial when deciding what to talk about on your website.

Lead with the Punch Line

Web content is written in a much different style than a typical narrative where you tell a story to build a reader up to your climax. Your web content needs to lead with your climax or essential message and then give supporting information and background details. This is the most IMPORTANT tip for writing content for the web. Web users do not have time to read a story. They want to get your main message in the first paragraph or in the first few sentences. If they have to work to understand your main point, they will lose interest and turn to another web source for answers.

Break Apart Walls of Words

Visitors on your site will be less inclined to read information if it is one big block of text. To increase the readability of your content keep your paragraphs short, use bulleted lists and break up main points with headings. I am doing this right now in this article. Notice how I have broken up the content by emphasizing the 4 tips with individual headers and smaller paragraphs? That was done intentionally so that this article would be easier to read.

Cut, Cut, Cut!

Always remember when writing for the web that less is more. Keep your writing concise and try to get your message across in the shortest and clearest way possible. A great way to keep your writing in check is to have someone proofread your work so they can get rid of extra information. Another great trick is saving your work and revisiting it after a break. After you have finished an article read it out loud to find errors and pick out information that is the most useful to your reader.
Writing great content for the web helps to create engaging websites and pleasant user experience. You want visitors to view your site as a valuable resource and as something that they will keep coming back to for more information. Utilize these 4 tips on your website to create web content that works.

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