Getting to the Point When Writing for the Web

By Leslie Brown

Writing web copy is different than writing copy for print material. I’ve written both, and here are some of the things I’ve learned from different sources about writing for the web.

Readers take only seconds to assess whether a web page is worth pursuing or not, so you can’t linger on a thought. Get to your point quickly by making each word count.

1. Keep it short.

  • Use short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, and short pages.

2. Keep it simple.

  • Include only one or two ideas in each short paragraph.
  • Use simple language and common words so readers have to scan less to determine what a page is about.

3. Keep it accessible.  

  • Decide what’s most important to communicate, and emphasize it with prominent headings, boldface type, and other visual cues. On the other hand, don’t clutter up your writing by adding too much bold. And never use all caps because it can be equivalent to online shouting.
  • Put the most important information with meaningful keywords at the beginning of page titles, headlines, subheadings, and links.
  • Incorporate white space and images on a web page. It’s easier to browse.
  • Add a summary or a bulleted list of topics so readers know what they’re getting into.

4. Keep it consistent.

  • Use the same words to mean the same thing. For example, if you use the word “trail” in one paragraph, don’t use the word “route” in another.
  •  Use consistent formatting on a web page. This makes navigating more reliable and fast.

So, what’s the point? If you keep your web copy short, simple, accessible, and consistent, you will keep readers on their toes.