Writing for the web is different from writing for print. People don’t read web pages the same way they read books or magazines, and you can quickly lose readers if your writing isn’t good. Of course, there are some rules that are universal like having correct grammar and spelling as well as being clear. But there are also some things you should do to improve the writing on your web pages. Including:
- Using Links - web pages are connected to one another through hypertext, but if your pages don’t have links they are boring.
- Keep it Personalized - automated content is boring and you’ll lose your readers if that’s all you’ve got.
- Good Navigation - you should be giving your readers places to go around your site through the navigation.
I admit it, I’m biased. I was a writer before I became a web developer. Then, when I joined my company’s web team, I was brought on as a web writer. I like to write, I like good writing, and writing is my passion. So, when I see web pages that demonstrate that the author doesn’t care about writing, I cringe.
There are many things that constitute good writing. They include correct spelling, good grammar, as well as interesting content. However, to write for the web you have to be aware of how people read web pages, as well as the nature of hypertext itself.
Don’t use "click here"
How do you handle links on your web page? If you’re like many new web designers, you have the words click here sprinkled liberally through your pages.
I admit that I can be inflexible when it comes to those two words in a web page. These two words completely destroy the flow of any document. The only time I can condone using "click here" is if you are writing a web page on how to use web pages.
Learn More: How to Write Links that Work
Do use title tags and "inter-paragraph" links
I have found that the best way to add in links to web pages is to add them after you’ve written the text. You can then go in and highlight textual elements as links so your readers can get more information. When I do this, I try to use title attributes in my links so that readers with title enabled browsers will know where they are going. (Note: About.com doesn’t allow this attribute in their CMS, which is why you don’t see title attributes on links in this article.)
Keep it Personalized
We all interact with computers dozens of times each day. Computers are dull conversationalists. Let your readers know that there is a person behind the pages? My articles on About.com all have my photo on them, and I like to keep the tone of the articles friendly and easy to read.
When you create your pages, make sure that you have some way to contact you on the web page. If you don’t want to be listed on every mailing list in the country, then at least put your name so that anyone who links to your site or article can give you credit. Why did you spend so much time on your pages if you didn’t want someone to read them and know that you wrote them?
Learn More: Building Online Communities
Navigation is critical because you don’t know how people are going to come to your pages. While you might hope that they would arrive at the home page and then navigate through the site in a structured fashion, it’s more likely that they will arrive at some niche article you wrote and then when it’s finished, want to see what else you have to offer. If your navigation is good, they’ll have other places to go. But if not, they’ll just hit the back button and be gone.
Learn More: Designing Effective Web Navigation