Writing content for the web is a critical skill.
It’s not the same as other type of writing such as print, magazines, press releases and books. People approach the web differently and this means you need to write differently to capture and hold their attention.
To help you do this, there are techniques you can apply to hold your visitor’s attention for longer. You might have the greatest content in the world but how you deliver that content is just as important as the content itself.
And I’ll be honest with you, the whole content is king argument drives me nuts, because other factors come into play too.
This is something I learned from Copyhackers. It means to be deliberate and selective about which formats to use to help deliver your message to your visitors.
Quite often there can be an over reliance on a particular type of formatting technique. For example, a lot of people use bullet points in their content because they know it’s good for scanning. But repeated use of bullet points can tire your visitors.
I recently purchased and read a wonderful ebook from Copyhackers called Formatting & The Essentials of Web Writing.
Some of the tips you’re about to read are from this ebook. I highly recommend you check it out.
Tip #1 Format your content to be scanned
OK this might not be a ground-breaking tip on how to write for the web, but then why do so many people insist on writing ugly blocks of text? It’s still happening and hence this tip gets the number 1 gig.
Most of us have been told that people don’t read online, they scan. This is true and eye-tracking studies have confirmed this. Our poor brains can’t handle too much information being thrown at us at once.
Formatting your text makes it possible for the average reader to sort out what is happening on your site.
But the way you format your copy will make or break it.
Tip #2 Messages that matter most should be positioned alongside images, buttons and icons
People’s eyes are drawn to visuals so it makes sense to have your most important information alongside images and buttons.
People notice oddities. I found out that filmmaker Stanley Kubrick always strived for symmetry in his films – so when something was out of place, people would take notice. Cool huh?
Tip #3 Capitalize words that don’t need to be capitalized but Need To Be Read
Let’s illustrate this.
Without Capitalisation: Get thousands of email subscribers in thirty days.
With Capitalisation: Get Thousands of Email Subscribers in Thirty Days.
Here are some more cool web writing tips:
- Replace periods and commas for – dashes
- Use numerals instead of letters
- Replace “and” with an ampersand (i.e., “&”) or a plus sign (i.e., “+”)
- Use parentheses (even when something’s not a side note)
Let’s use our example with these new tips:
Without Capitalisation, Numerals and Parentheses: Get thousands of email subscribers, from across the world, in thirty days.
With Capitalisation, Numerals and Parentheses: Get 1000’s of Email Subscribers (from across the world) in 30 Days.