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Working With The Web – Writing For Websites June 1, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Technology, Top Tips, World Wide Web.
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As part of our ongoing series of tips for making the most out of the internet, let’s have a little look at writing for the web.

It can be tempting to simply reproduce your existing literature and information online. However, studies have shown that people read web pages differently than print. They scan a page quickly and are less likely to read a lot of text. Reading from a screen also presents accessibility issues.

So how can you make your pages attractive and informative at the same time? Here a few simple rules that can help:

  • Keep word numbers down. Aim for between 250 and 400 words per page.
  • If you have a lot of info, write a short, simple introduction and link to further pages.
  • Start with your conclusion – tell people what the page is about straight away. Most people will only read the first line.
  • Use sub-headings to split information.
  • Use bullet points for any list of items longer than three.
  • Keep sentences short – 15 to 20 words max.
  • Use simple language wherever possible.
  • Write in a more conversational style – use ‘we’ and ‘you’, for example, and be more informal.
  • Don’t use italics – these can be hard for people with dyslexia to read
  • Be consistent with your capitalisation, spelling, formatting etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to link to other websites if they provide further useful information.

Don’t worry about slavishly following every single rule. If you take on board the general principles, you’ll soon be writing clearer and more attractive copy.

Of course, this is only the briefest of introductions. Take a look at these other resources to learn more.

More on how people read websites and writing tips from useit.com.

Writing for the web by Jakob Nielsen.

New Opportunities Fund guide to online writing.

Read the other ‘Working With The Web’ posts.

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