Web Writing

So what communicates a message best on the Web? The rules at the beginning of this column are a good start. Now imagine those phrases on a Web page, each hyperlinked to another page that gives further detail about how to do each item on the list effectively.

Write in short phrases.

Get your reader’s attention.

Eliminate excess verbiage.

Provide links to further information.

If this column or the other articles in this magazine were written entirely in phrase form, as above, our readers may think we’ve gotten lazy or completely lost our writing skills. After all, what we were taught in elementary school and beyond is to provide as much detail as possible, in paragraph form, using complete sentences. While these rules are the foundation for strong written communication in print form, they should be thrown out the window in most cases on the Web. Keep in mind, the Web did not even exist when most of us were learning the basics of writing.

So what communicates a message best on the Web? The rules at the beginning of this column are a good start. Now imagine those phrases on a Web page, each hyperlinked to another page that gives further detail about how to do each item on the list effectively. Remember, links are what a quality site is built on. Leave the detail for secondary pages. People skim Web pages, looking for specific points, so the faster they can find these points, the more effective the page is. Keep the important information at the top of the page, and keep scrolling to a minimum.

When assembling the content for each page of your site, remember that visitors to your site are impatient and have come because they have something they need to do. Use direct wording in headline format to present your information. If the readers see what they need quickly, they will follow the appropriate links for more detail. If they don’t, they will move on to another site.