Writing for the web is nothing like writing a research paper or essay. Web writing follows a particular formula that when done write (see what I did there?) it effectively communicates the message for you or your client.
There have been studies that prove that people read differently online than they do hardcopy print and as web writers it is our job to make sure readers aren’t having a hard time reading. In practicing these techniques for a web writing class it helped show just how easy it is!
Below is the list of these rules and when put to practice they are very simple to use.
Writing long lengthy paragraphs for research papers and essays are fine but for web writing lengthy paragraphs carry the risk of boring your reader to the point of exhaustion. Long paragraphs means a long time spent reading which goes against the sole purpose of reading on the web. We want the information in short “chunks” which is where the chunking technique is essential.
Each chunk must be concise enough to contain the necessary information where if a reader scans a web page and pulls out a particular section he/she will have enough information to not have to read the entire article. Chunking helps with keeping the pace and visually cleans up the text to avoid overloading readers with information.
Subheads help to organize your chunks. Rather than having chunks of information all over the page subheads act as guides to further enhance the flow of the writing. They should be punchy and catchy but also supply enough information in it that readers will know exactly what you’re addressing.
Subheads are also essential in web writing because it also helps in separating the text acting as visual cues for the reader. If there is a particular bit of information a reader wants subheads are the perfect markers for helping readers find what they are looking for.
Linking can help to provide readers with more information from outside sources. Providing variety in sources and allowing your audience to explore a particular topic further is a great aid in web writing. It also helps to lighten the load of information you have to write too. In a way it is a great way to minimize how much text you write while also giving readers enough information to consider you a credible source.
Sure using images can be fun to dress up your web page but using the right images is key. The pictures you choose ought to enhance the text and help the reader not confuse him or her. Choosing the right image is difficult but be sure to use images that make sense. Using abstract or unclear pictures can hurt your article and make it seem as though you are not in-tune with your topic. Pick photos that will visually stimulate and drive home the point you are trying to make.
Develop Your Voice
One more key aspect to web writing that I feel should definitely be included is developing a distinctive online “voice.” There is nothing more satisfying than being the kind of writer whose voice is so signature it can be identified on any site. Your tone and writing style can determine how well you get across to your readers but also can help in carrying the voice of any client you may write for.
Having a definitive voice can also make any company you may write for want to use it in helping to develop their own tone. How you “sound” online impacts how your audience reads you; it can make for a strong presence in the world of web writing.
Following these rules can seem intimidating at first but with practice comes the ease. Like anything the more you do it the more it feels like second nature–like riding a bike. Web writers are tasked with keeping the voice of the Internet flowing smoothly and it is our jobs to keep readers coming back.
Hopefully these tips come in handy when you decide to write your first web piece. Click on the links provided for more information.