Good web sites need good content
A web page is not the same as a newspaper article which is not the same as a novel.
Each has a different set of 'rules' based on the readers' expectations and the medium. On the web, people are more impatient. They scan content more, looking for headings, hyperlinks, and keywords.
Write for speed reading
- Write for the reader, not for yourself. Imagine you are writing for an impatient person who is on the web to look for something specific.
- Convey meaning and emotion but keep it useable and fast. He smacked it really hard or he punched it. Which is clearer?
- Avoid lengthy pages and long text blocks. If you can cut out a word, do it. Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Almost telegraphic.
- Fragmented sentences are fine. Really!
- Start with a clear statement about the topic. Do not ramble on with anecdotes and distracting 'noise'.
- Make it easy to find the important bits. Use images and keywords marked in bold or italics.
- Keep to the point; exaggerated language will be skipped over.
Become your own editor
- Take the time to write briefly.
- Accuracy is important. Say what you mean.
- Review material in print, then on the web page in draft. Text will look different in different modes.
Exploit the technology
Liberal use of headings and subheadings will make it easier for people to find your material. Keep headings short and descriptive, use the active voice and ensure they are related to the material that immediately follows. There should be a subheading every few paragraphs to keep the reader's interest as they scan the webpage.
- Use links that look like links.
- Enjoy the differences. You will not be able to do everything that you can do when using a word processor. For example, creating two columns of continuous text is possible, but difficult, therefore more expensive. But there is a lot more you can do!
- Use images, but make sure they load quickly.
- Use titles and pages that will be recognised by Google and other search engines. Test your titles on Google. If there are several hundred pages using the same title, change it.
- Keep it current. Because you can! Timeliness is all on the web.
Remember that people use what they have learnt on other web sites to help them to navigate.
Rules can be broken, but not ignored
Like all rules, the rules for writing on the web may be broken but not ignored. If you understand the rules and why they exist, you can use them as a creative force in your writing for the web, not not just a set of restrictions.