Writing for the web

Writing for the web

Good practice guide

Good writing should look simple to the reader, but requires patience and careful planning by the author. It will help the content user get to the point quicker, ensure you get your point across more effectively, and help your pages rank higher in search engine results.

This guide will provide you with an overview of good writing practice for web content and help to ensure you get the results you want from creating and publishing it.

Focus on who you are writing for

Before you start you should be clear about:

  • why you are creating the content
  • what you want to achieve with the content.

You also need to remember you are the expert. Assume your readers have no knowledge of the subject and  looking to your page for information to help them.

It is also worth remembering that your reader can get to a page from anywhere. Unlike a book, there is no need to read the index to find content. Clearly explain things so each page can stand on its own, but take care not to duplicate content from other pages – use links if necessary.

Website content is scanned or glanced at – not read

Pyramid

Get straight to the point. Do not bother with gentle introductions – they will not be read.

People read differently online than they do when they read print materials – web users typically scan for information. A study of online reading behaviour found that users are likely to read only 20% of the words during an average visit to a web page.

Web pages should be written using the inverted pyramid style of writing. This style of writing starts with the point (or conclusion) and then builds on that point during the rest of the article, expanding into more detailed information or less strongly related information as the article progresses.

This style gives the reader key information at first glance and allows them to decide quickly if the page includes other information they want.

Printed essay Web page
  • first, explain what you’re going to discuss
  • then, present an overview of the
  • next, discuss
  • finally draw your conclusion.
  • first state the key point of the page
  • then provide information that supports the point
  • finally refer to supporting documentation.

The most important point you make is in the conclusion – at the end of your essay!

The most important point you make is at the beginning of your document!

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