Writing for the Web

When writing for the web, break text down into easy to read sections. A wall of text is deadly for an interactive experience; intimidating, boring, and painful to read.

Write for online, not print. Break long pages down into separate short pages with a table of contents on an introduction page. Long pages take a long time to download, and users hate to scroll. If you must have a long page, use well placed target or bookmark points.

To draw users into the text and support scan-ability, use well-documented tricks such as:

  • bulleted lists;
  • highlighted keywords;
  • short paragraphs;
  • a simple writing style;
  • follow a style guide.

Keywords and key-phrases help make web content searchable – these are the words and phrases people might type into search engines when looking for information. Make sure you include keywords and variations on them when writing for the web – but do not overuse them simply to try and raise the search engine profile. The main task is to provide text that is compelling, relevant and timely, so that the user experience is good. You need to write for your audience, not just for the search engines.

People scan more than they read and will skip over lengthy sentences or paragraphs. Use headings and sub-headers, and structure the information in a coherent and logical way.

Remember that people will reach your content from different sources, including links elsewhere on the website, external links, using an external search such as Google, using the website internal search engine, or typing in a URL. When they land on the page, they need to understand where they are and the context of the information they are reading.

Updated: 03 December 2016