Writing for the Web

Writing a copy for a company’s website can be quite different from other copies. Not only do you need to communicate your message clearly to the readers, but you also need to do it most quickly and interestingly as possible. Here are some points to keep in mind when writing for the web:

Get the Reader to Stay:

Web visitors are usually looking for some information and decide if your website is useful swiftly. We can say people scan, rather than read web pages. The visitor needs to get the message of the copy at a glance. How do we get our message across so quickly?

  • Make use of headings that clearly communicate what the whole website and each of its sections are about.
  • The sub-headlines should summarize the key points
  • Improve readability using bullet points
  • Give an informative caption for the images used

If the web visitors scan the web page and find the information they need, they will stay on the website instead of closing it and opening another.

Most Important Information Comes First:

Writing for scanners also means you need to put the most valuable information at the front of the website. Writing an essay or article would require you to include an introduction and a conclusion before and after the main content. But when writing for the web, present the main point first, and then provide additional information. This makes it possible for readers to leave the website at any point while still having an idea about the main point of the page.

Use Familiar Words:

When writing a copy for the web, use familiar words which are easy to understand for readers. Readers are looking for these familiar words, also called “carewords”, and if they do not spot them quickly, they can leave the page. Avoid being too fanciful or scientific with your word choices. Visitors are more likely to look for the word “cheap” than something more complicated like “cost-efficient” when trying to buy a product.

Keep it Short and Simple:

Use short paragraphs and simple sentences in your web copy. Paragraphs should contain a maximum of four sentences and sentences should have twelve words on average. Do not use jargon. Wordy, complicated text can turn off your visitors. Readers simply do not have the time to go through lengthy paragraphs and decipher complex phrases. Avoid the passive tense when writing and address the web visitors directly, use “you” to refer to them.

Maintain Visual Appeal:

When writing for the web, you have to make sure that your copy goes well with the visual design of the page. This means that the copy matches with the theme of the website. Choose the font types and colours carefully. Play around with highlights, italics and bold text. Include lots of photos and videos. Most importantly, maintain spacing and reduce noise. Adding white space improves readability and increases perceived trust.

Expect People to Arrive Anywhere on your Website:

Unlike a book in which people usually start reading from page 1 and then move through the book, visitors can arrive on any of the pages of your website. This means that they should be able to understand where they are, what the site is about and what it does from any web page they open. Each page of the website should be easy to scan and should have a call to action telling people where to go next. Other than the navigation bar, include buttons or links to guide people to the next step or next page.