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3 Essential Web Writing Tips

According to .OrgSource, a web strategy and e-communications consulting firm, web readers absorb about 28% of the words on an average page visit—and that’s being generous (the real figure may closer to 20%). About 79% of website visitors tend to scan rather than read an entire article.

It takes longer to read online content too: Most folks read about 25% slower on a screen than on paper. If you create a page with long, daunting paragraphs or hide the most meaningful points deep inside them, your readers be reaching for the “Back” button quicker than you can say “Wait, don’t leave!”

2. Use self-explanatory, clearly marked blocks of text

Short headlines (8 words or less) are your friend. Subheadings are your friend. Bulleted lists are your friend. Short paragraphs (30-50 words) are your friend. Make your content easy to scan so that visitors notice it’s worthwhile. Then they’ll the time to read it more thoroughly.

3. Write in inverted pyramid style

In journalism, reporters learn to give the most important facts first, then progressively disclose detail. It’s called inverted pyramid style, and it’s extremely useful for web writing. After all, your readers may only take in the first paragraph of an article before moving on to another page.

According to a 2006 study by Jakob Nielsen, web readers browse a page in an F-shaped pattern in which the top two paragraphs receive the most attention while the rest of the content is mostly skimmed or ignored altogether. Put the most important stuff at the beginning of the article where they’re most likely to see it.

For more quick and dirty web writing tips, see this excellent (and short!) article by MarketingProfs.com.

3 Responses to “3 Essential Web Writing Tips”

  1. nic gabunada says:

    I wonder whether there is a recommended number of words a web article should have. Some recommend an average number of 500 but I don’t understand what is the basis for this figure

    • Adam Smit says:

      This article is 282 words long. I tend to think one ought to stay under about 400 words for most general audience content, BUT that’s with some heavy caveats. Here’s a good article with a nice chart about average word count in various markets:

      http://www.viperchill.com/blog-post-length/

      The article makes a good point that should be stressed: It’s about the quality of the post more than the word count. If you’re providing in-depth, specialized knowledge, many readers will appreciate a longer article (1000+ words). If you write meaningless fluff with lots of SEO keywords, you’ll get a few random visitors via Google in the short-term but no real fans of your page who will visit on a regular basis.

  2. Jurij says:

    Great starting point,… Thanks! I suggest to visitors to read referred article too.

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