How to Write for the Web

Did you know that 79 percent of Web users scan text on websites rather than read it? According to Jacob Neilsen‘s article, “Why Web Users Scan Instead of Read,” there are four basic reasons for this:

  1. Reading from computer screens is tiring. The longer you read, the more ‘uncomfortable’ you feel.
  2. People want to feel active when they’re on the web. Many feel that reading a full page of text is “non-productive.” They want to move on — to find what they came for.
  3. Since there are so many pages on the web that contain little relevant information, readers feel it’s not worth their time to read the whole text. Instead, they seek out the most important elements by picking out keywords, sentences, and paragraphs of interest.
  4. Web users are busy. They simply don’t have the time to read large blocks of text.

I have “preached” to many of my clients, as well as those who have requested website text evaluations, that short and to-the-point (concise) text is far superior to long, flowery descriptions and commentary (see “Flowers Do Better in Gardens that in Prose”).
One of the primary reasons people use the Internet is to seek out information. They are visiting your website because they want to know more about your product, your service, or about a topic of interest. To ensure they receive what they’re after (and thereby leave a better impression of your website), it’s vital that you make your text ‘scannable.” This means dropping any content that doesn’t focus on what your visitors want to know.
You can write text that is scannable by using:

  • Bullets
  • Numbered lists
  • Boldface type
  • Colored text to highlight keywords
  • Additional headings
  • Shorter paragraphs (one idea per paragraph)

In short, if you want to receive the best response to your website writing, make sure to write concisely, make the text scannable use objective and clear (as opposed to flowery, boastful, or exaggerated) language.
Copyright © 2001 Nan Yielding
Nan Yielding is the owner of Writing-Etc.com and offers internet marketing services and assistance to help website owners attract more customers and increase sales.

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