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How to write web content for a busy audience

How to write web content for a busy audience

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Maybe you're not a writer. But you do have a website and you do need to put some words on it. Typically people don't read online the same way they read a book or a letter. Instead, they tend to scan web pages to find the information they are looking for quickly. So you need to think of your website as your side of a conversation with a very busy person.

  • Break up your information into small pieces
  • Use bold headings and lists
  • Write in a conversational tone and style
  • Use personal pronouns
  • Use short sentences 
  •  Write as if you were answering someone's questions on the phone
  • Use simple to understand words and sentences
  • Eliminate unnecessary words
  • Use active voice 
  •  Avoid lengthy explanations; use links to point to more extensive resources

Lists, like the bulleted list above, are commonly used on websites to organise information. There are a variety of ways to present lists effectively, but they will lose their value quickly if they are long and randomly organised. Include an introductory sentence or phrase above your lists to give readers a clue about how they are organised, for example by category, ranking or theme. Follow these basics when creating lists:

  • Keep them fairly short
  • Use sentence fragments or very short sentences
  • Capitalise the first word of every list, whether it's a complete sentence or not
  • Use parallel construction 
  •  Know your audience

With Microsoft Office Live Small Business you can easily create and customise copy for some standard web usages, which can be helpful to site visitors, especially those with limited experience navigating websites. Rather than creating new conventions that might confuse inexperienced visitors, using established web formats to convey information is also a way to help busy visitors find what they're looking for.

 

In Office Live Small Business, you can take advantage of pre-designed blocks of content, called Modules, that can be accessed via the drop-down list on the Page Editor toolbar. A couple of examples include:

  • Contact Us:   This creates a simple form that allows your site visitors to e-mail you with inquiries. This is a basic web convention your site visitors are probably familiar with.
  • Map & Directions:   You type in your company address to show the location of your business as well as driving directions. Again, this is standard procedure on the web and something visitors will expect to find.

Using these Modules will not only help your visitors find information they need—but they can save you time.

 

Keep your content fresh. Once you have your website up and running with words and images that you're happy with, it's time to start thinking about how you are going to refresh your site. Add a new image? Announce a new product? Provide a tip or special feature? To keep people coming back to your site, it's important to update it frequently so it looks like there's something new to explore every time they visit.

 

Related posts: Updating your website, tips for a tweak or a facelift, Book of the Month

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