Writing for the Web

They Don’t

  • People rarely read web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences.
  • Research on how people read websites found that 79% of test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16% read word-by-word.

Get To the Point

  • When a user visits your website you have about 5 seconds to grab their attention before they click off.
  • A good site gives users the information that they need quickly and efficiently.

The Five Second Test

  • Go to one of the important pages on your site - one that should drive key goals.
  • Now, look at that page for 5 seconds or, better yet, ask someone not familiar with your page to view it.
  • Remember, no more than 5 seconds!
  • Now - have them name what stood out, was it clear what action you’re wanted them to take?

Solution - Use Scannable Text

  • Highlighted keywords - hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others
  • Break documents into separate topics
  • Use meaningful sub-headings (not "clever" ones) – questions often make great headings.
  • Use bulleted lists
  • Short sentences – 5 to 10 words
  • This does not mean adhering to a defined word or character length for every piece of content.
  • Try to say what you need in the shortest, clearest way possible - Half the word count (or less) than conventional writing
  • One idea per paragraph - users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph
  • Craft the first sentence to capture attention
  • Use the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
  • Short paragraphs - 50 words or less. One sentence paragraphs are ok!

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