How to Write for the Web 1 of 3: Format
At Graf-Martin Communications Inc, we build about 4 websites per year for our clients based on their needs. We do it as part of an integrated marketing communications strategy plan that coordinates with their other communication needs. Tim Underwood began as a webmaster in the early days of the internet circa 1995 and he has developed and expanded his skill-set over the years.
This 3 part series about “How to Write for the Web” sprung from the latest website we are working on for the Canadian Max Lucado Tour www.gracetour2012.com, pictured here.
With more and more people turning to the web as a reliable source of information, knowing how to effectively write for the web is imperative for any business’ or organizations’ online success. The following three-part blog series will outline why a website’s format, content and set-up details are important to consider when writing for the web.
A key component to consider when writing for the web is the way your site or blog looks visually. Computer screens have a lower resolution than printers do and because of this reading online is 10 per cent to 30 per cent slower than reading the same text in print. Reading on screen increases eye strain due to flicker, luminance, contrast and glare meaning that the way your site or blog looks is important.
Here are some elements to consider when determining the message you want your website to convey.
1. Make your site visually appealing
This involves making sure your content is readable.
Here are some tips on how to make sure your site is visually appealing, resulting in increased readership:
a) Make sure the typeface you’ve chosen reflects the mood, or message you want your website to convey. Serif typefaces tend to appear more formal, while sans-serif typefaces tend to appear more relaxed.
b) Consider that some typefaces are better suited for writing for the web than others are. Be sure to select a clear typeface to increase readability. For example, display typefaces, often found on wedding invitations tend to be difficult to read online.
c) Ensure the font size selected is easy for your audience to read. Font sizes 9 through 12 are considered most appropriate when writing for the web.
2. Ensure your text is scannable
This refers to the structure of your content. Web readers tend to digest only 28 per cent of the information published. If your site includes large amounts of text, readers are less likely to take the time to scan it.
Here are some tips, when applied that will make your site more scannable:
a) If you must include paragraphs of text, make sure they’re short and sweet and surrounded by enough white space to provide a sharp contrast.
b) Convey information in the form of lists, or a table whenever possible.
c) Use bold headlines and subheadings to organize your information.
3. Include, but don’t rely on images as sources of information
Images typically take longer to load than text, but relevant images are an important element to include in any website, and are integral to a blog’s success. Images, such as info graphics can work alongside text in conveying information, but should never stand alone. Another thing to remember when including images is that they are not searchable by search engines.
4. Try and limit the number of advertisements and banners on your website to no more than two per page.
Too many advertisements per page can lead to two things. First, readers may be distracted and wander over to other pages and secondly, advertisements may not be relevant to the content it is accompanying.
Auman, Christopher. “How To Write Great Website Content.” Blogcritics Culture, 7 Feb. 2005. Web. 04 July 2012. http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/how-to-write-great-website-content/
Web Copy That Works: 7 Rules of Success. New York, NY: Modus Associates, n.d. PDF.