Writing, Websites, & What You Need to Know
Do you ever read the entire website when you visit it? Odds are your answer is “no”, and you are not alone. When writing for websites, you have to keep in mind that there are certain behaviors people tend to exhibit when visiting a site that they do not when reading a book or printable literature.
Common behaviors & Desires
When people read something online it is usually because they are looking for specific information, so they will scan the webpage looking for it. For example, when people land on your home page, it may be because they want to find out what your company does. They will scan the page until they find the desired information; once they find the needed information, they may close the browser.
If your page is not written in a way that helps guide the reader to that information, then they may lose interest and leave your page. Therefore, your content has to be written in a way that makes it distinguishable.
Imagine getting lost in a forest and trying to find your way back to the road. Without any signs you will be totally lost and unable to find what you are looking for. Same is true for website writing. You need to have clear signs highlighting which content is found in which location.
According to the Nielsen Norman Group, a leader in Research-Based User Experience, there are a couple of things you can do to help people as they scan your webpage:
- Using clear, noticeable headings and subheadings to break up content and label sections so that people can scan to find only what they’re most interested in
- Employing formatting techniques like bulleted lists and bold text to allow the eye to focus on the most important information
There is only a certain amount of effort that the visitor is willing to put in when navigating through your site before they lose interest and move onto something else. This means you should write with your intended audience in mind, as in any piece of writing, and you should also write using simplified language.
The simpler the language is, the easier it will be for the reader to scan through your page without exerting unnecessary effort.
In a world of instant gratification, it is very difficult to keep someone’s attention for a long period of time. This is true for the visitors that are coming to your website. Because of the short attention span, it is important to place the most important information up front and in a distinguishable format. In other words, put the most important information first.
If you’re writing for the web, your word choice matters. The reader has to know that you are authentic and serious and that you care about adding value to their lives. Therefore, it is best to stay away from salesy words that may make you come off as self- centered or money hungry.
It is also important to be authentic with your writing. Highlighting the benefits of the product or service by providing truthful information and testimonials. It is easy to make up things, and depending on how well something is written it may even be believable, but sooner or later the truth will prevail. So, make sure that your word choice is reflexive of the beautiful and valuable reality of your products and services.
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