I'm working on a project for a non-profit in which we're overhauling their website and rewriting all of their content. The problem is that their content doesn't speak to their audience. It's - shall I say - too high level. To help embrace the idiosyncrasies of the web, I gave a thiry minute power training session on how to write great web content. They found it so useful that I decided to boil down the main points into a blog post for the rest of the world to enjoy.
- Write for your audience: Don't use Wall Street Journal style writing if you audience reads the tabloids. Know your audience and write at the level they are used to. Overall, good web writing is about having a conversation with a web visitor as if they were in the same room. Speak directly to them (not at them) and don't talk up or down to them.
- Speak Clearly. Keep the conversation simple. I totally ripped this from someone else, but "don't use a $3 word when a 10 cent word will suffice." Translation - avoid large words or jargon. Otherwise, you'll only distract your reader from the point you are trying to make or the action you want them to take.
- Make it Digestible. Break you content into chunks of information with one main idea per paragraph. Max out at 5 sentences per paragraph and use subheads to help readers scan through you content quickly.
- Make the Title Count: If your title is unappealing, then people won't read your content anyway. This goes for page titles throughout your website too. Write your content and then spend a significant amount of time massaging your title after the body of your work is complete.
- Make it Valuable: Give the readers not only what they need, but what they don't even know that they want. Find your voice and make it your prize instrument in communicating to your audience.
- Tell Them What You Want Them To Do: Most online content is created to generate an action. If you want your reader to "do something," after reading your content, tell them! Don't make them guess and don't provide too many options. That can be distracting. But no matter what call to action you choose, make sure it's user friendly. That means your contact forms should work and someone should respond in the time frame you promised.
Speaking of giving your reader something to do - how about chatting with me about content? If you have a content project that you'd like to get off the ground like revaming your website, schedule a free consult.