Writing for the Web can be both an exciting and lucrative art form, but it is just that. There is a certain art to writing successful online communications, and that's evidenced by the fact that only five per cent of Web sites are considered successful.
Here's six things you can do to ensure your Web words are read.
1. Clear and simple copy
Adopt an inviting, informal writing style. Even though people go online to gather information, they still view the Internet as a form of entertainment. Make sure your writing style engenders confidence, friendliness and trust.
2. Keep it short
People don’t like reading long, scrolling text on screen. Write tight and punchy copy. Get your point across fast, keeping pages to two screen lengths or less. While this may mean more pages (you can provide hypertext links to related topics or more pages in an article), it will reduce the need to scroll.
3. A touch of humor
Humor can be an effective tool for maintaining a reader’s interest, but it should be used sparingly and appropriately. Your brand of wit will not amuse every reader.
Remember, Web visitors are an unknown quantity. Your site may attract people from all over the world, from different cultural and educational backgrounds as well as different age groups. So when in doubt, play it straight.
4. Information that's readable and scanable
Speed is the name of the game online.
People want information fast, otherwise they'll click somewhere else. Employ elements to enhance your content's usability, such as headings, pull quotes, bullet points, highlighted text (bold or a different color). Use elements sparingly for effect.
5. A 'newsy' style
The 'inverted pyramid' style of writing, adopted by journalists, also suits the Web.
Write as if you only have a few minutes to make a point (with some visitors, that's all you've got anyway). Present all of the facts and conclusions in the first few paragraphs. Then, once you have your reader's attention, you can flesh out the piece with more details and background.
6. Links to more info
The advantage of the Web is that you can insert links from one article or Web site to another. So, readers have the choice of reading one article or several, simply by clicking on hypertext. This is also beneficial for the business behind the Web site.
Links also give your client the ability to easily guide visitors to further product information or sales.
As you can see, there's a lot to consider when writing for the Web ~ and we've just touched the surface here ~ but the good news is that if you get it right, you can virtually write your own ticket.