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How to write good content for the web

Understand yourself, human nature and your target audience

Writing for the web is simultaneously like writing for everything else and nothing like it at all. You’re never really writing for the web, you’re always writing for people, who just happen to be online. There are specific tools in your belt that apply only to a web page, but there’s many more that come from understanding yourself, human nature and your target audience.

Understand your format

Are you writing a home page, a service page or a blog post? Each requires a different approach that is rooted in what your reader wants at a particular time. When a user arrives on a home page, they’re usually looking to get an impression of an organisation, not a detailed explanation. Such explanations are better placed on an about page or within services pages that explain in more depth the work you do. If a reader is visiting your blog, they’re looking for insight, entertainment and probably a little vulnerability from you too.

You don’t need to say a lot

Especially on home pages, a good snappy headline and a useful link or two will achieve more than a block of text. In fact, the block of text is likely to put people off. In general, people browse the web when they are between other things - often travelling, grabbing a short break or flitting from task to task at work. Being time-poor, they’d much rather read ten words than four hundred - unless immersed in a well-crafted blog. Wherever possible, condense your information and only keep what is most relevant to your site visitors.

Be aware of scanning patterns

If people are on a web page, they almost never read everything. Usually they scan in an F-shaped pattern, paying most attention to the words at the top and the far left of the page. If you have something important or attention-grabbing to say, put it where people are most likely to read it.

Be consistent

If your organisation is friendly and personal, bring that tone to the website content. If it defines itself as more professional or expert, stick to an assured voice. If your home page is full of ambitious, exciting statements, but your about us page sounds like it describes a cornershop, something is out of place.

Enjoy the writing

The writer often shows in the words. If you’re not enjoying writing something for the website, chances are people won’t enjoy reading it either. Look for the people on your team who love writing and get them to contribute to the content. When blogging, write from the passion behind why your organisation does what it does. Your love of the thing will show and has the power to keep readers hooked.

Keep the aim in mind

All your writing should serve those browsing your website. At the same time, your organisation has a wider goal and everything that you put online should contribute towards that vision. Think really big before you start thinking small. Check in with the dreams, plans and destination of your organisation. Once you are connected with your greater reason for being on the earth, you can create content for your website that springs from the deeper part of your organisation’s identity. It’ll be all the better, and more effective, for being more like you. Whether websites are your focus right now, or you’re intrigued to see how else technology can help fulfil your organisation’s purpose, come have a chat with us and we’ll see what we can dream up together.

3 months ago | Education

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