What does it mean to write for the web?
Using web-writing techniques can quickly tell a fast-clicking reader that this information is relevant, and that they should read on (and maybe even share it).
What are the key elements of web writing?
Use these techniques to break down the ‘wall of words’ and make content more reader friendly.
Scannable, succinct and prioritised
- Web content should be easy to scan, with the key message clearly obvious from the top of the page.
- Good web writing reduces content to its most succinct (yet still informative) form.
- Focus the message in order of what the audience wants to read. Ask yourself the questions that the reader would, and use the order of importance to guide the flow of the copy.
Break up the content with heading levels that capture the message of that section in priority order. Make sure your headings include relevant keywords.
- Title (H1)
- Main heading (H2)
- Subheading (H3), etc.
Provide an easy-to-read snapshot of your message with bullet points.
People (and screen readers) scan web pages for links to quickly direct their progress. Make reading easier with contextual link text. Find out more about good link practice.
Notes on link text
- Avoid using non-contextual links such as ‘click here’.
- If you are linking to a PDF, include (PDF, xxKB) in the link.
Resources to help you write well for the web
Our top book recommendation
Ginny Redish is a web writing guru, which puts her book (particularly chapter 6), Letting go of the words: Writing web content that works, at the top of the resource list.
Ginny’s “six guidelines for focusing on your essential message”:
- Give people only what they need.
- Cut! Cut! Cut! And cut again!
- Start with the key point. Write in inverted pyramid style.
- Break down the walls of words.
- Market by giving useful information.
- Layer for different needs.
Other books for people who want to make websites that work
- Kristina Halvorson’s, Content Strategy for the Web
- Steve Krug’s, Don’t Make Me Think
- CC Chapman’s, Content Rules