Writing for the Web

Content is king on the web. But, is your content effective? Follow these three easy steps to useful online writing.

Content is king on the web. But, is your content effective? Follow these three easy steps to useful online writing.

writing for the webOne of the first things I discuss with new clients is content. In fact, there's an entire section in our contracts devoted to it. While Heideldesign is experienced in web development, we do not know every facet of our clients' work. That's why we leave the writing to them, the experts.

There are three main aspects to effective writing for the web. They all lead to the ultimate goal: People reading your words and then trying your products or services.

The first rule is to break up your text into bite-size pieces. Reading online is different than reading in a book, magazine or technical manual. The expectations are shifted from a leisurely activity to a research/quick answer mentality.

At the top of any online article, write a brief synopsis. This immediately lets the visitor know if they're in the right place. It also puts your main points at the top of the page, improving search engine placement. After your position statement, keep each supporting paragraph short. The elementary school guide of four to five sentences will usually suffice. A good rule of thumb is to step back from your computer screen and squint your eyes. Do you see adequate white space, or is it a jumble of dark letters? White space makes an article easier to read and less initimidating for the user.

Illustrating your article is the second step. Choose a simple image or series of images to back your words. If it's a technical article, include a diagram to help explain the parts. If it's a more casual piece, include a photograph that clearly identifies with your message. Illustrations reinforce your words, giving a supplementary means of communicating with your audience.

Finally, keep your content current. While an article you write today will have all of the latest research and trends at your disposal, in six months, that data (and your conclusions) may change. If a casual surfer arrives at your site, you want them to perceive your business as an authority. By regularly updating your columns, articles, or product descriptions, you are making an investment in the quality and timeliness of your website.

A final tip, if you are struggling with the act of writing for your website, hire a professional. You may need to pay someone on your sales staff or hire an outside freelance writer. Make it a priority to develop your online content. It's an important tool that cannot be ignored.