We already know a bit about the characteristics of online users from our look at online consumer behavior in the last chapter – writing effective web content is about taking what we know about web users in general, and the target audience of our website in particular, and applying that knowledge to deliver our information in a format that meets those readers’ needs
Web users are impatient – forget flowery introductions and verbose descriptions, make your writing clear, concise and to the point from the start.
Make it scannable
Avoid large blocks of uninterrupted text. Use headings, subheadings and bullet points to break up the text into manageable, scannable stand-alone chunks.
Make it original
Unique, original content is a great way to engage your users, establish your relevance and authority, and search engines love it.
Use the inverted pyramid
The inverted pyramid writing style often used for newspaper stories tends to work well on the web. Aim to deliver the most important points of your story first, going on to deliver supporting details in order of decreasing importance down the page. Ideally, the user should be able to stop reading at any point and still get the gist of the content.
Use a simple, easy-to-read writing style, and keep things consistent across the site. If you have a number of people creating your content, consider developing a style guide or house style to help maintain consistency.
Engage with your reader
Use a conversational style, and write as if you were talking to an individual rather than an audience. It will help your writing to engage with the reader on a much more personal level. See our chapter on content marketing in this edition of UDM – this is certainly going to be one of the hottest growth areas online in the years ahead.