Creating effective online content doesn’t need to be difficult, but it does requires a different approach than when writing for a printed publication like your monthly newsletter.
Online readers approach content from a different angle and have different needs.
Our best practice tips are designed to help you better engage your website visitors.
Scanning and Skimming
Online readers are notorious for quickly scanning text for key information and many do not read with the same level of focus as they do with printed materials. Long, dense paragraphs should be broken down into smaller and more concise paragraphs. Or, consider using bulleted or numbered lists to get details across quickly.
Front-Load Your Text
Place the most important information at the top of every page and include it in the first paragraph. Front-loading text guarantees that a visitor quickly scanning your webpage will still learn the most critical details.
Use Short and Direct Sentences
Carefully choose your words. Remember, many readers are skimming your pages for information. Keep your sentences on topic with one main idea per sentence. If a sentence requires multiple commas, it is probably too complex and should be divided into multiple sentences.
Formatting is your friend
Use formatting to break up text and better engage your readers. Bold text or a different heading color can be useful in quickly directing your visitors to important text and key information. Bulleted lists are easier to digest than individual ideas separated by commas in a long, detailed sentences.
People are incredibly visual and are drawn to dynamic images. Online readers are no different. Support your text with descriptive images that entice readers to learn more.
Calls to Action
Each page should have an actionable item directing visitors to someplace else on your website. Liberally include links encouraging people to register for an event, contact someone at the organization, read more about a certain topic, and so on.
Online readers are more sophisticated than you may think. It is no longer necessary to use the phrase “click here” every time you are drawing a reader's attention to a link. Instead, write a sentence as you normally would and then link the word that best describes the supporting content that you are linking to. Visit Congregation Beth Or’s welcome page for a strong example of how to naturally link content.
Adjusting your writing style and understanding the visual nature of the web are key to accounting for the critical differences between online and offline readers.