The Internet is unlike no other medium, and the way content is used is very different than what you’ll see in a book, a newspaper or a magazine. With these new ways of reading also come new ways of writing and creating content. So, what should a web copywriter be mindful of when producing content for an online audience?
#1 – Keep it short and to the point – According to online usability guru Jakob Nielsen, web content should be 50% shorter than its print counterpart. This is because people tend to read more slowly when they are taking in content from a screen. They also find it much less comfortable to read than the printed page. A web copywriter also needs to get to the point of the article or web content quickly. People have a nasty tendency to click away if they don’t find what they’re looking for fast.
#2 – Be conversational – The web is a pretty informal arena, and people generally expect content to be far more conversational in tone than they might expect in a newspaper or magazine. Engaging users with a more conversational tone of voice also helps to build trust between a website and its users. Keep the language simple, but don’t patronise your readers. They’re smarter than you think.
#3 – Use meaningful headers – Jakob Nielsen also found that readers tend to scan through on-screen text, picking out key words, sentences and segments rather than reading right through from start to finish. To aid users when they are scan reading your text, introduce a number of sub-headers to break up the text. Avoid ambiguity, keep headers punchy and to the point, and provide a succinct summary of the text that follows.
#4- Be accurate – This might be a given for all kinds of writing, but the transient nature of web content seems to have encouraged some into thinking that grammatical errors and spelling mistakes are acceptable. They’re not. Plain and simple. Just last month, businessman Charles Duncombe revealed that an analysis of his hosiery website, tightsplease.co.uk, showed that sales were cut in half by a single spelling mistake. Just one was all it took to cut his online sales in half. So check your content for technical accuracy and spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck.
Are you a web copywriter? What rules would you add? Let us know in the comments box below.