Assuming your message connects and your topic is interesting to your audience, chances are the fault lies in the readability. The good news is it’s an easy fix, the bad news is we’re going to talk about the technical in’s and out’s of writing for the web.
Zen and the Art of Writing for the Web
Reading on a monitor is far different from reading on a page. For starters, you can’t use your finger to track where you are on the page or readjust the distance without shuffling around in your chair.
Plus people consume information online differently than they do in hardcopy. If something gets ‘put down’ in the virtual world, chances are very low it will get ‘picked up’ again.
The key is getting people to read NOW and that requires making it so simple for them that they simply cannot NOT read it.
The Do’s and Don’t of Writing Web-Friendly Copy
Do: Pay attention to textography
What is textography, you ask? Think of it as the geography of copy – how the text looks on the page. Readable textography combines bullets and numbering, bold face type and plain text, and headlines and paragraphs to draw the reader in step-by-step by giving them both scannable and readable elements.
Don’t: Present readers with a GIANT block of text
Ever see a giant block of text and think to yourself, “I’ll read that LATER!”? Big blocks of text are intimidating at the best of times, but online, they are downright deadly. Stick with short sentences and short paragraphs.
Do: Entice readers with subheadlines
Where headlines function to grab attention, subheadlines draw them deeper into the article and entice them to read beyond the first paragraph. Use subheadlines to highlight the key concepts. A good way to test the effectiveness is to read only the headlines and subheadlines to see if your article makes sense.
Don’t: Forget to back-up the high level concepts with details
There are two types of readers: scanners and detail-seekers – you need to write for both using what is called the double readership path. Your use of headlines and subheadlines covers off the scanners, but don’t neglect the detail-seekers by staying too high level. Use your paragraphs and bullet points to fill in the gaps.
Do: Use whitespace
Give your readers a break by using whitespace to let their eyes rest. Proper use of whitespace makes it much easier to read quickly because your readers won’t lose track of where they are on the page.
Don’t: Forget that a picture is worth a thousand words
When in doubt, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. Use diagrams, illustrations, images, screen caps and video to demonstrate your point.
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