5 Web writing secrets – How ‘S’ can help
I have already written one blog about techniques for Writing for the Web, and in particular about writing text for your home page (READ it here). That blog had 3 main points, among them have a Strap line (on your home page) and make your Stories count. (The other point was don’t dilute your key/main message.)
The ‘S theme’ of Web Writing Secrets continues here, with a few more important Ss for you to adopt/embrace on your website:
1.) Web writing secret No. 1 = Scannability
Readers on the web are in a rush. It is no secret. Indeed, it is rare that they read more than 20-30% of your text. So, make it really easy for them to Scan, i.e. to pass through and get the gist of your webpage in a flash.
You can do this by using short paragraphs, and a very simple layout (ie. don’t let designers have too much influence). My tip is to write as though you were writing a news story, with several of the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why – and how) of what you writing about answered for the reader in your opening paragraph, so that they know immediately what your blog is about, and whether you have whatever it is they are looking for.
2.) Secret No. 2 = Slow readers down
Linked to the above, try and do things with your text that slow your readers down. One secret writing technique that achieves this quite well is using questions. It is strange, but somehow questions engage the reader. And they are a great web writing secret. They force the reader to pause and think: ‘Hum, what is my answer to that?’
Something else that helps is using bullet points – indeed, they work so well that it is as though they were invented for web writing, after the web came into existence. Another tip is to have headings and subheadings that are eye-catching. Not cryptic ones as newspapers sometimes used to – as people wouldn’t understand these, when speeding over your text – but headlines that catch their eye as they scan over the page, getting them to pause.
And if readers pause, they are more likely to read on…
3.) Another writing secret = ‘Short and snappy’ headings
Avoid long ones, that can’t be scanned. Ideally, use short and snappy ones, with a strong verb, that will shine out for the reader. That is my web writing secret. The subheadings on my Copywriting page, for example, are things such as: Why use a freelancer – … and why use me? – My repertoire and experience – Improve your website content/SEO – Need help with a blog?
4.) Secret No. 4 = Does it pass the ‘So what?’ test
Does your content pass question, which is this commonly used among journalists? What does it mean? Well, it is easy to get excited when you first think of something to write about. But pause. Better still, wait until the next day. Or think what a friend would say, or how you would respond when said ‘So what?’ ie why is this interesting to readers? Make sure your content can answer this.
5.) Final web writing secret = Straplines
And finally, yes, this one is a reminder from my other blog. Many companies have ‘strap lines’, mission statements, etc. but go into their offices and the chances are you will not see them. They are like a hidden secret. Why keep them secret? However, they can fit nicely on the top-left of your home page, where they are prominent and widely seen, as well as neatly summarising what you stand for.
Yes, in my view straplines are underused web writing secret, but can have big impact on a website home page.