Wed

05

Sep

2012

10 Rules on Writing for the Web

Word cloud on writing for the web

Get your <headings> right

Start with a Heading 1, and use one and only one per page. Why? Because it looks better and is easier to read. Another reason? Google will penalize you if the search bots can't tell which heading is the main one, i.e., what your main focus is. If you have more information to organize, use groups of Heading 2 or Heading 3.

 

Keep it short and simple

Most people on the web are busy and don't have time to read long articles, so stay focused and be brief to keep readers' attention. One way to do so is to...

 

Use lists

The internet has a hunk a hunk of burning love affair with lists. You see them everywhere, because:

  • Lists are easy to read (see the rule just above). 
  • Lists help you structure information so people can scan it quickly.
  • Scanning means your content gets seen and perhaps even read.

 

Put the main point first

People oftentimes like to introduce things before they say them. We learn to do this in school: introduction, arguments, conclusion make up a paragraph. But on the web, say the most important thing first (start with the conclusion).

Inverted Pyramid

Not so good: The market for stainless steel widgets is very competitive, with considerable price pressure from Asian competitors. Following an extensive decisionmaking process, Acme Widgets have decided to suspend operations effective immediately. We would like to thank our loyal customers for their business.

 

Better: Acme Widgets are ending operations immediately and wish to thank all customers for their loyalty. This decision was a difficult one, and reflects current developments in the widget market. International competition, particularly from the Asian market, played a role in the decision to end operations.

 

Just remember: people may only read the first sentence. Make it count.

Be yourself

Want people to ignore your blog post or company description mercilessly? Then write dull, generic texts. Try to please everyone. Don't take a stand.

 

Want them to read your writing and react to it instead? Then write about something you care about. Be interesting, perhaps even edgy -- but most of all, be genuine. Imbue your writing with your personality -- your readers will thank you for it.

 

Think about your reader

Who will be reading your website? What information is most important to them? Use keywords that matter to your readers, and choose an appropriate tone. Don't use a word like 'circumvent' if you are writing for children or non-native speakers -- 'get around' is better suited.

 

Don't paste from Microsoft Word

You can't always see it at first glance, but Microsoft Word and the web don't get along well. When you type something in Word and paste it into your Jimdo site, a whole bunch of weird formatting silliness gets added in as well. That can make your website look funny or in some cases even cause an error.

 

There are loads of great text editors out there that are great for web writing, including Notepad++ for PCs and our favorite, Sublime (for pretty much any system).

 

Use old words

Search engines find common, 'old' words better than newspeak according to Jakob Nielsen. Old words are also more readable and evoke deeper emotions in readers. After all, would you rather 'network' or just plain 'meet' people? Using real words also helps adds color and personality to your writing.

 

So can the marketese -- you won't convince anyone by saying how great you are and using the latest catchphrases.

 

Action titles work!

Titles are the first thing people read, so make them count. Skip articles like 'the' and 'a' and put the most important word first if possible. Both your readers and search engines will reward you.

 

Start small and link to more

Did we mention to keep it short? Make it even shorter, and then always try to add another internal link to more information. If you're a company, link to "more information about us". If you're writing a blog, link to a recent blog post on a related topic. Like this:

 

 

 

Lucas Millheim

Country Manager UK and Ireland



Comments: 14 (Discussion closed)

  • #1

    Miks (Wednesday, 05 September 2012 22:12)

    Nice.. :)

  • JimdoPro
    #2

    Gurdeep Singh (Friday, 07 September 2012 10:04)

    It will really help alot.

    Thanks!

  • #3

    Alex Moises (Saturday, 08 September 2012 22:00)

    Very nice rules...

  • JimdoBusiness
    #4

    Lucas Millheim (Tuesday, 11 September 2012 15:14)

    Gurdeep + Alex, thanks.

  • JimdoPro
    #5

    markwooller (Monday, 17 September 2012 11:10)

    Like 'Be yourself'

  • JimdoBusiness
    #6

    Lucas Millheim (Monday, 17 September 2012 12:02)

    Hi Mark, thanks. I like your website. Hope you don't mind if I pin a few of your images to Pinterest ?!

  • #7

    Katherine Babcock (Tuesday, 25 September 2012 05:44)

    Fantastic! Thanks for the input and ideas. Everything you said seems right on - and I appreciate the reminders!

  • #8

    empowerafricans (Saturday, 29 September 2012 17:07)

    Your rules are very vital,with them i think am going to build a better website
    thanks

  • #9

    climbinthealps (Saturday, 29 September 2012 21:05)

    Thank you for the tips!

  • JimdoPro
    #10

    fergusmurraysculpture (Thursday, 01 November 2012 12:55)

    Very useful tips. Many thanks

  • JimdoPro
    #11

    Jungle Indie Rock (Thursday, 01 November 2012 15:13)

    Thank you! Simple but very useful

  • #12

    karthim (Thursday, 22 November 2012 13:58)

    Good to know :)

  • #13

    vintagebrass (Tuesday, 22 January 2013 13:30)

    Really clear and to the point. Sensible advice without techy stuff or wordy explanation.
    Thanks

  • #14

    Mike (Friday, 25 January 2013 20:04)

    Fantastic tips for a new bee.

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