Web Page Writing Tips

People read web pages differently than printed materials.

Most people find reading on-screen very hard on the eyes. Since reading on the web is 25 percent slower users scan the page until they find relevant information. Using these web page writing tips to make your content easier to read and increase user engagement.

Write the opposite way you would for print media

Typical writing for print starts with background information, educating the reader as they work their way down to the conclusion.

Web page writing tips
Heat map showing that website users read in an F pattern

Online readers prefer the opposite. The first paragraph includes the most important information and summarizes the content. This works well for several reasons:

  • Readers get the most important information quickly, without having to read the entire page.
  • In a matter of seconds, readers will decide whether or not the page contains the information they are looking for.
  • Readers can explore a topic to the depth that they choose without being forced to read through information they may consider irrelevant.
  • If readers are interested in learning more, they can scroll for more information.

Web Page Writing Tips

  • Keep it short: short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, short pages.
  • Avoid excessive introductory text: phrases like “welcome to this web page” is meaningless.
  • Reduce content used in print materials when using it on your website.
  • Break text up into easily readable “chunks” with clear, concise headings.
  • Write meaningful titles and headings.
  • Use one idea when writing each paragraph.
  • Use plain language and avoid complex terms and art speak.
  • Bold keywords to draw the reader’s eye to relevant information.
  • Hyperlinks should be descriptive and explain the action. 
  • Don’t underline text:. Underlined text is perceived as a hyperlink.

Use lists

  • Instead of burying key points inside paragraphs, pull them into a list
  • Use numbered lists to explain instructions that need to be performed in sequence
  • In most cases, you can start each item with a capital letter
  • It is not necessary to use periods after short phrases or single words

Get to the point

Success on the web is based on usability. People come to your site to see and read about your art and want to do it quickly. If a website is difficult to navigate and read or they can’t find your art, they’ll leave.

What is your call to action?

As you develop content for each page of your site, consider what the objective or goal of each page is. This is where the call to action comes in.

  • What do you want your reader to do once they have read your web page?
    • Contact you?
    • sign up for your newsletter?
    • register for a workshop?
    • visit your gallery?
  • Always be thinking of the users’ next step and make it easy for them to get there.

Landing pages

Think of your landing page as a summary. From your landing page, users should be able to quickly get to pages showing your art or information on your next workshop (for example). The landing page is used to highlight the two or three key offerings with a call-to-action that links to more information. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting your portfolio page as the landing page of your art site. This gets users to the goods fast. Just make sure that you include some text to describe your work. An image is not worth a 1000 words on the internet. Other landing page actions could be:

  • Telling people about your next exhibition
  • You have new work in your portfolio
  • You’re presenting an artist talk about your work
  • You get posted your workshop schedule

ALWAYS provide a link to take visitors to the information.

Scrolling a web page is okay

Users don’t mind scrolling if the information is coherent and formatted for scanning. For example, users prefer to scroll a lengthy news article on a single page rather than click links to read multiple pages.

Tips if you write a blog

  • Involve readers in a conversation
  • Be personal, talk to people in the first person. (I, me, we)
  • Do not simply write the news, instead ask questions, recommend, etc.
  • Tell stories. Make them real by locating them in space and time
  • Write meaningful titles and links (helps with SEO)
  • Link to past posts if they’re relevant
  • Use categories and tags (helps with SEO)
  • Blog regularly. It’s about consistency more than it is about frequency

In Conclusion: Following these web page writing tips will make your content scannable and increase user engagement. Remember to write the opposite way you would for print media and make your content easier to read by using lists and bolding keywords.

This is the first of 4 articles dedicated to writing good content. To read the others follow these links: Scanning Web Pages Using Web Page Heading Titles and Headlines Create meaningful hyperlinks

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