Writing is writing is writing…right? Well, not entirely. Over the years, tried and true methods for writing for the web have evolved, and they may be very different from the writing techniques you’ve learned (e.g. composition or journalistic writing).
For a lot of us, when we’re asked to write an article, a blog post, or a page on our website, we break out the writing skills we learned in school. In school, we “composed.” (You have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion, plus those pesky topic sentences or “controlling ideas.”) Maybe you learned the journalistic style (important facts first, the “inverted pyramid”).
Why would writing an e-newsletter article or blog post be any different? Because online writing is read and “consumed” differently.
The tried and true axiom of writing for the web is that people don’t read, they skim and scan. People who visit your website or receive your e-newsletter simply aren’t willing to read long, unbroken paragraphs of text. They are often looking for something specific, so they will skim through your content, looking for keywords and anything that jumps out at them.
What jumps out at them?
- Lists (bulleted and numbered)
- Bolded words and phrases
- Short paragraphs that “chunk” information
The concepts of using headings, lists, and even emphasized words may seem odd to you, but they are imperative in effective online writing. The typical busy, distracted user doesn’t have the time or the patience to read dense text when they are frantically searching for the name of a product or your phone number.
Which would you rather read – the dense text, or the chunked page with headings and short paragraphs?