Thinking / High Performance Writing for the Web

High Performance Writing for the Web

Online audiences read differently, if they read at all. Scanning is the predominant behavior. With this in mind, the following list of tips will help you give your audience what they need online and improve your time-on-site, page views and click-throughs.

Consider the Context – Your audience is active; remember, they found you.
Two important drivers motivate a user’s behavior when they reach your site:

1)      Users are looking to accomplish a task, not just read information
2)      If they can’t accomplish their task on your site, there’s a whole Internet waiting and they’ll be gone

Set the Hook − Use the “F” scanning pattern of your audience

  • Start sentences with meaningful key words, not empty introductory clauses. Words on the left should grab attention.
  • Employ headlines, subheads and lists – chunk your content
  • Exercise immediacy and utility to put information into context

Don’t Play AroundYour audience is impatient, so get to the point

  • Interested users will spend only 20-25 seconds on the page  − enough time to read about 75 words
  • Users spend only 4.4 seconds for each additional 100 words of text – time enough to read 18 more words
  • Don’t try to accomplish too much on one page – encourage interaction with the site through links, drop-down menus, etc.

Call Them to Action! – Every tidbit of info should lead to an actionable next step

  • End each section with a way for users to do MORE – read more, see more, contact, etc.
  • Craft your information around the behavior you want to encourage
  • Consider links throughout and where content can be split into more than one page

The BasicsStart simple and stay simple

  • Write in the active voice
  • Every sentence must have a fact (and a point)
  • Keep it moving with short sentences and paragraphs
  • One main idea per sentence; one main theme per page

Editor’s Note: There’s a lot more to consider in the world of Web writing, including page and content type (e.g,. landing page, press release, blog, videos/images), site depth and search engine optimization.