Hands at a laptop

Learning lessons: writing for the web

Just 1 in 10 of you will reach the end of this blog post. And 80% of people will read no more than a third of the page. Those are two of the rather depressing statistics to come out of the training I attended yesterday on writing for the web.

Neither will put me off sharing my virtual year in France, however.

Statistics like that don’t really come as a surprise – I’m used to a lot of my work being ignored. Not because it’s bad, I hope, but because turning a magazine page, recycling a flier or walking past an advertising hoarding are things we all do every day.

I take no offence. Part of my job involves training people on how to write better, so I would like to think I know a thing or two. Plus, readership of the magazine I edit has risen by 124% since I made some changes to the style and content.

Writing for the web is different from writing for print, however. There are a number of tricks you can use to encourage people to read your text.

  • Bullet points are one
  • Front-loading important words in your sentences is another
  • Short paragraphs are a third

See what I did there?

“For me, good writing can change lives. It can help someone put food on the table or a roof over their head.”

One of the biggest tips of the day was to write your key words before your actual text. In short, working out what terms web users would use to search for content and then using those terms throughout your piece, especially in your headline and opening paragraph.

That all sounds a bit calculated for my tastes.

For me, good writing can change lives. Getting someone to think or act differently can help them put food on the table or a roof over their head.

This blog, for example, probably won’t change your life, but it might well change mine.

This entry was published on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 at 07:44. It’s filed under Language and culture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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