No one ever says, “I’m going to settle in with a nice website and cup of hot chocolate for the night.”
Reading a website is very different from reading a book, a magazine, or newspaper. On the internet, people want information to be quickly available, presented well, easily digestible, and fun. Fail on any of those, and you lose your audience.
Here are four tips for writing successful website content:
- Keep It Short
- Keep It Easy to Scan
- Keep It Easy to Understand
- Keep It Engaging
Keep It Short
Most people writing for the internet are excited about their business.
That’s a great thing.
And they want to tell people about their business. All about their business. Every last ever-lovin’ detail about their business.
That’s not such a great thing.
Website visitors don’t want to know everything about your business. They want the information they need and not much more.
Let them tell you what they need—don’t force-feed lots of detail.
Keep It Easy to Scan
In addition to wanting short copy (and pretty much skipping any site that looks too word heavy), web users are generally seeking specific information—and they are not going to read every word on your site to find what they need.
Instead of reading word for word, they scan. Studies have shown that if users don’t immediately find what they are looking for on a page, they will tend to look elsewhere.
Formatting can also go a long way toward making it easy for people to search content.
- Use short paragraphs. Chances are your 10th grade English teacher wasn’t teaching you to write for the internet. Website paragraphs should be short and concise.
- Highlight the point of the paragraph. If the reader doesn’t have time to read the page, he might have time to read the highlighted parts. Make it easy for him to see where to spend his time.
- Use bullets, lists, graphics, and quotes. Utilizing different formatting can dramatically improve the reader’s comfort level with a page. Nothing says “come on in” like a well laid out page with good graphics.
See what we did there? Bullets, highlighted text, short paragraphs. Easy to read, right?
Keep It Easy to Understand
People go to the web for answers. Not to be drown in information. They expect you will have done the work for them (this is not like a potluck dinner where you have to bring your own information).
One of the best examples of this type of writing is www.mayoclinic.com. They share information about complicated medical issues, but written in a way that almost everyone can understand it. They’ve made it easy to learn about health.
Keep It Engaging
We all know boring people. We don’t generally seek them out. When we do have to associate with them, we try to get away as quickly as possible. Is that how you want people to treat your website? Probably not.
This doesn’t mean you should clown around on your site (unless you are a clown). Being flip and silly will just cause people to mistrust your information and worry that you won’t take their problem seriously.
Be engaging. Tell stories. Lead with confidence.
Keep your writing simple. Make sure your content is:
- Easy to scan
By following these few guidelines, you can create content for your website that gives people great information, encourages them the spend time on your site, and guides them to take action.
And that’s the goal, right?