No matter how good you are at writing magazine articles, short stories, Shakespearean sonnets, or dirty limericks, you will find writing for the web to be different, and often more difficult. In a newspaper column or a book, the text simply fills a set area. People are accustomed to the look of it and read it with ease. On the web, you should use a different structure when writing website content.
The Speed of Things
People have really short attention spans on the web. If a person makes the decision to sit down and read “War and Peace,” they are committing themselves to reading the whole thing. On the web, people do not want epic volumes of information. Writing for the web means that you have to produce content in tiny palatable bites of information, quickly spotted and easily digested.
Paragraphs should be short and to the point. Sentences should be short and to the point as well. No one should have to run to the dictionary to read your writing either. Visitors will not stick around to make sense of web writing that they cannot immediately grasp.
The Joy of White Space
When writing for the web, you need to structure your content so that there is a good amount of white space around each important point, headline, or list. The last thing you want is heading to footer text. Website visitor’s eyes should be able to skip easily from section to section of your web content. Excessive text causes blurred vision.
Think of a written web page like a magazine spread. The text, however, should be arranged not like a magazine article, but more like the whole spread. You should use blocks of information and nestle each one in a white cushion.
Headings, Sub-headings, and Sub-sub-headings
The easiest way to get that lovely white space when writing for the web is to use a lot of headings, sub-headings, and sub-sub-headings. As a table of content does for a book, your headings will do for your web content. People will easily find the information they are looking for.
Bulleted and Numbered Lists
Important points will become more noticeable in your web writing if you stick them in a bulleted of number list, rather than embedded in a paragraph of explanation. Website visitors’ eyes will be drawn to lists and consider them important. If you make your list interesting enough, they just might read what the list is all about.
There is a different structure you have to adhere to when writing for the web. While massive blocks of text are great for antiquarian novels, and rambling scrawls on bathroom walls great for the limericks, you have to do it different on the internet. Eye-catching blocks of information surrounded by white space and labeled with bold headings is your structural goal when writing for the web.