Seven Tips to Writing Great Web Content

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Learn how to write content that will drive users to your website and keep them coming back for more; by Allyson Ward Neal

In the information age that we now live in, content is king. And, as content creators respond to the ever-changing world of how content is accessed, it is important that we remember to keep it simple. The days when people made time to read lengthy articles, research publications and scholarly reports are gone.

We are living in an era where news, research and other forms of written content is delivered in brief sentences with bullets and highlighted text. Many news and entertainment articles also contain short videos to reinforce messages.

As consumers of information, we find ourselves struggling to retain information if it is not condensed into bite sized pieces. Technology and the ease in which we access data have resulted in information overload.

Therefore, it is essential that all content creators of this age strive for the optimal level of simplicity possible and be mindful of the brevity that our taxed minds now require in order to retain information.

Simplicity assists readers who access electronic content on mobile devices such as laptops, Smartphones, tablets and eReaders. Simplicity is especially important for Smartphones because they have smaller screens. Making text simple and easy to read aids the mobile reader greatly in understanding and retaining content.

Seven tips to writing great web content are:

1.    Hire a professional
With the multitude of websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more, we are all creators of electronic content. However, if you haven’t studied or received training about how to write for the web, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance.

There are professionals who specialize in creating content for the web and they are trained practitioners of writing for such audiences. Creating content is an excellent way to start an endeavor and to convey your message electronically. If you want to be relevant and provide web readers with the high level experience that they expect, seriously consider hiring a professional to either write your content or review the content that you've written on a regular basis and, especially before it's posted to your website.

2.    Purchase a book
There are many inexpensive books on the market about how to write for the web. Web writing books can guide you through the process of fine-tuning your content. And, using books for tips on writing is an excellent way for a “do-it-yourself-er” to accomplish his or her goals. Also, if you conduct an internet search using the term web writing books, you will find many great books that can assist you in writing well for the web.

3.    Write catchy headers
Most trained journalists learn the value of writing an effective headline. And, the same principles apply to writing headers for websites. Headers must be written to grab the reader’s attention while also informing them of the message with extreme brevity. Being straightforward when composing headers is valuable. Readers today are accustomed to scanning the digital page for valuable information. A well-written header is a great way to communicate valuable content without taxing the reader. Many busy people only read news headers to remain informed. So, keep your reader in mind as you create your headers.

4.    Use lists wherever possible
When scanning a page for relevant information, readers most often look for lists that break down complex subjects into manageable sizes. Lists provide a great visual queue and may encourage readers to read the entire introduction of an article or news posting on a web page, especially if that page is accessed from a mobile device with a small screen. Lists also force simplicity and brevity. Writing in a clear and to-the-point tone saves the reader time in having to re-read the material for greater understanding. Keeping words to a minimum and being straightforward ensures that readers will get it right the first time.

5.    Use the inverted pyramid
In journalism school, we learned about the inverted pyramid. The concept is quite simple and instructs journalists to include the major components of an article at the very beginning. The “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where”, “Why” and “How” are the major components and are the key elements that a reader seeks when reading the first few paragraphs of an article. Following the major components, all other relevant information should come after with the least important information included at the very end.

In journalism school, we were instructed to compose our articles in this manner so that readers could get the full story at the very beginning without missing important facts should they decide not to read the story to its end. The same concept applies to writing for the web. The concepts may need to be reinforced more critically since readers may not invest the time into reading a full paragraph of a web article.

A concise header that explains the article may be the only thing a reader chooses to read. Therefore, the first sentence in any web article or blog post needs to contain as much essential information as possible to aid the reader in making a decision as to whether to read the entire article.

6.    Use teaser text
Just as the headers and the first few sentences of a web article or blog post should be informative, so should teaser text. Popular news and entertainment websites contain many teaser text features. Often-times a photo accompanies the teaser text which is another way to provide information to busy, on-the-go web readers, particularly those accessing web content using a Smartphone.

Teaser text should include one sentence that, in traditional journalism, is called the lead sentence. The lead sentence or teaser text is a great way to inform readers of an article’s content without requiring them to click the link to read the full article. This is a great benefit for Smartphone users who can read many updates without having to access tons of articles that could result in lots of scrolling and touch manipulation on the phone. With teaser text, a reader can easily scan through lots of articles and updates, and receive information in bite sized pieces.

7.    Consider Smartphone readers
Research reveals that millions of people around the world access website content from a mobile device. Smartphones are the number one choice for web users to read news, use social media sites and perform transactions. Top websites offer mobile-friendly versions of their full desktop websites so that their users can seamlessly access content using small screens. And, since web content is most often accessed from Smartphones, it is critical that all written content for the web be tailored to the Smartphone user. Simplicity has never been as important as it is now.

Allyson Ward Neal is a professional communicator with 20 years of experience in the communications industry. She is the author of “How to Create Websites for Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops and More,” available on the Amazon Kindle.

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