The art of writing for the web is far removed from writing for the print world. The usability of the website can be considerably increased by simply adopting a few measures that will make the content on the website more user friendly and precise. A research proved that by rewriting the content of two websites according to the guidelines the usability for both these sites was increased by 159% and 124%.
A few pointers need to be kept in mind regarding the content and user patterns-
- Web pages are more often scanned than read word to word by the users.
- The word count of web content should be ½ of the paper content.
- Reading speed from the computer screen is 25% less than the paper.
Following is the prime aspect you need to keep in mind while writing for the web.
Acknowledge the need to differentiate between online and paper presentations
It is very important to split web documents on the web into multiple hyper linked pages. This is because the users are reluctant to read long pages online. The difference arises from the fact that a printed document is a whole and the focus of the user remains on the entire information unlike the web. The access of the site for the user can be at any of its pages and then he moves back and forth as per his need.
This makes it necessary for each page of the site to be independent and not be based on any assumptions regarding its previous or next pages. It is also very essential to provide links to background and also information that explains the use of the site to those who are unaware how to do so. Since the reading speed slows down approximately 25% while reading online so the word count should be kept half that of the print material.
Too much of scrolling is not liked by users so the most important information should be placed on the top so that excess scrolling is not needed. Since the web users are generally impatient because their sole purpose of surfing is to do some work so the best way to capitalize on their need is to give them information in the pattern that they can use it.
To be able to hold onto the user to your site for a considerable amount of time you need to develop a sense of credibility pretty soon. This is because a search result opens up many links on remote locations and if you do not impress the user he can simply click on the next link. For this purpose you need to avoid making any exaggerated claims and too much of glorification, the preferred writing style is brisk and objective.
Instead of simply your site pages if you provide the user with links to some additional pages on other sites having supporting information then your credibility will automatically increase. Try to quote from other magazines and link them to your source.
Since web content is more informal in nature as compared to print so the users sort of expect and welcome an informal writing style and bits of humor off and on. However this does not give leeway for the inclusion of cute headings as you tend to lose out because scanning is often used to pick up the meaning of the text.
Since you cannot expect all the users to be frequently using metaphors in their speech so limit their use specially while giving headings to the content as you could be taken literally too. Any complex and convoluted writing style is unwelcome as it becomes very difficult to grasp its meaning online. Also avoid puns because they are specific with regards to the region and language and do not work for international users.
An anonymous piece of writing usually gets treated casually as compared to a piece with a byline or any other personality indicator, which gives the whole feeling of credibility. The fluidity of the web makes it inevitable that to retain user interest you need constant updates on your pages for just about everything like statistics, examples, numbers, or any other similar requirements with regards to the content of the website.