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Writing for the Web

Know your audience and their needs

  • Use knowledge of your readers to help design your document and try reading it in that light.
  • Most people come to your website for:
    1. to find content important to them;
    2. to take actions and complete tasks.

Use heads, subheads, and summaries

  • Writing style should be brief, clear, compelling and persuasive – help people scan your page.
    1. Use short sentences – 5‐10 words
    2. Use short paragraphs – 50 words or less. One‐sentence paragraphs are OK.
  • Include sub‐heads that use active words, not labels and that flow from the primary page heading.
  • Use bullet points and lists – they are easy to skim and work well with links
  • Bold important information
  • Use in text links for extra information

Be concise

  • Write in an inverted‐pyramid style, with the conclusion first, details later.
  • Let the reader know the bottom line up front. Offer a brief introduction that lets the reader know what information is being presented.
  • Write in a minimalist style, and be to the point.

Pay attention to what is "above the scroll" and page length

  • Make sure that the "important" information is visible without scrolling when a page is first viewed.
  • It's OK to scroll when content of continuing interest is unfolding. When topics change, it might be time for a new page
  • Link to extra information. This works much better with a computer document than a paper one.
  • Consolidate small bits of information where possible

Keep refining your site

  • Change pictures
  • Delete/update outdated or un‐useful information
  • Get feed‐back from your audience
  • Keep a list of future additions/functions/features/content