Although content management systems and blogs give almost anyone the ability to publish content to the web, they don’t do the writing for you! Unfortunately we have to do it ourselves and sometimes this can be a difficult task. These 10 tips will help you to use good practice for writing content for your website and ensure that what is written is interesting, suitable for your audience and compliments the rest of your website.
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Write Specifically For The Web
Don’t take text directly from your brochure and put it on your website. Reading on a screen is very different from reading printed material. You need to keep your reader’s attention as they scan down through your text. Clearly present what you do, include appropriate calls to action and provide the visitor with easy to read and, most importantly, useful information.
Know Your Audience
Imagine each page on your website being read by a particular person, a person from your target audience. Now write your content for this person alone. If you can engage on a one-2-one basis then you will get some real business.
Use A Personal Tone
By making sure that your content is friendly and approachable, you can help to cancel out the lack of personality associated with computers. Even on a fairly formal site use a more relaxed attitude than you would normally in order to compensate for this perception.
Make It About The Reader
I think this is quite hard, because my own thoughts and opinions are so much more interesting than anyone else’s. I’m proving this point in these sentences, talking about me instead of you. A better way of putting it would be: You might find it difficult to talk about others, instead of yourself. Your thoughts and opinions are so much more interesting than anyone else’s.
So turn your ‘me’ sentences into ‘you’ sentences.
Make It Easy To Read
There are reasons why tabloid newspapers sell so well. One of these is because they require such a low attention span. Even when writing for a well-educated audience follow these steps to keep them interested: simplify punctuation; be consistent; Use numbers instead of words; Use imagery.
Make Pages Easy To Scan
It can be depressing to realise that people will probably not read your carefully edited content. However, the sooner you accept this, the sooner you can start to work around it. Include a summary of the entire page right at the beginning. This helps the reader quickly determine if the page is relevant to them or not. Also write your paragraphs so that the main point is first.
Stick To The Point
Usability experts say that you should take your content, edit it down by half and then half it again. This sounds almost impossible but it’s easier than you think. Start by removing repetition, marketing speak, and ‘happy talk’ (content with no real substance like ‘welcome to this site’) and you will quickly find your content significantly reduced.
Keep Paragraphs & Sentences Short
As well as keeping the page as a whole short, you should ensure individual paragraphs are short too. Each paragraph should make one particular point as this aids both scanning and understanding.
You should also try to keep each individual sentence as short as possible. Again this aids scanning but also helps to get rid of any waffle.
Break Your Content Up
To aid scanning look at each paragraph and ask yourself the following:
- Can I associate a heading or sub heading with this block of text?
- Could this paragraph be represented as bullet points?
- Is there a key message in this paragraph that readers need to instantly see?
Use Meaningful Links
It is common to see links with phrases like ‘click here’ or ‘read more’. It is tempting to do this, however try to avoid this temptation.
Many users will scan a page looking specifically for links. They don’t read the text before or after the link so they see it out of context. So instead of linking the words “click here” in the sentence “click here for more news” you can link to the phase “more news” or even the entire sentence.
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