Simple Techniques and Secret Tips to Master Writing for the Web
We begin with a simple question: When was the last time you looked at a piece of paper to get information? The piece of paper could be a newspaper, a journal, a magazine, or an encyclopaedia. The answer, we guess, is that you probably don’t remember.
The point we are trying to make is that our reading habits, much like the rest of our lives, have shifted online. And when we turn to our digitized screens for information, the rules for writing and presenting content are a bit different.
Complexity Killed the Cat
Call it the bane of our constantly connected lives; our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. You probably have 5 seconds or less before your reader loses attention and moves on to something else. (There is always something else to read or do). How does a writer then present information that holds attention?
The simple answer is…avoid complexity. Content that is easy to process and absorb is content that commands attention. Easy to say, but not so easy to achieve. You have us, however, and we are on a mission to provide you with sound, practical, and simple writing tips that will enable you to conquer your hyperactive audience.
Write Easy, Write for the Web
Before we get into the nitty-gritties, one important fact that you absolutely need to know is that reading off a screen is more tiring than reading from paper. This should be your guiding principle every time you sit down to write.
With that out of the way let’s dive into simple writing techniques for the web:
- Distil Information
You may have a lot to say, the audience, however, may not have the patience to sit through it. Even before you start tapping on the keyboard, try and make a mental note of the information you will use. Is it unique? Is it useful? Will the reader relate to it? These are some of the questions that can help you decide what should be kept and what should be cut out. Be ruthless. Your readers will only love you for it.
- Simplicity Is Key
You may have noticed that we harp on simplicity. The reason is that it is one of the most important assets of web writing. Using clear, simple language is the way forward to create compelling content.
But what exactly is clear and simple language?
It means no jargon, no complex words, no complex sentence structures, and no passive voice. If a 12-year old can read your content without getting distracted, you have achieved clear and simple language.
- Bullet Points
Who doesn’t love to read content presented in bullet points. It helps the reader get from point A to point B in quick time without missing the essentials. The vertical presentation of content is a faster, simpler, way of getting information across to the reader. Bullet points are handy when complex data needs to be presented. We recommend that you have at least one bullet list in your blog post or web article.
- Seduce with a Sizzling Intro
And we mean not just the introduction to the article, but also the first sentence of each new paragraph. The introduction, as you may know, hooks the reader’s attention and creates the much talked about first impression. If the initial sense of wonder and surprise can be replicated in each section of the content, you will not have to worry about attention spans.
The fact is that most readers skim content, leaving out a sentence or two in each paragraph. The first sentence then needs to provide a tantalising intro to the paragraph.
Now that you know the simple writing techniques, let’s take things a notch higher with some expert tips.
Master Writing for The Web
We are going the whole nine yards in helping you be not just a good writer, but a true master. It will take some practice and it will not happen overnight. But the expert tips that we have listed below should help you reach the top level quicker. Here’s the three secret tips:
1. Original Content Rules!
When everything and anything is available nowadays with a simple click of the Google search tab, it can be tempting to just copy and paste information that you find on other websites. A watered down version of the same thing is rewording existing content for your readers. It will not work. Period.
Coming up with original content may take a bit longer, but it is well worth your effort. Not only will the search engines list your content higher, but more and more people will want to read it.
2. Put the Best Bits Forward
Writing for the web is like constantly engaging the attention of a child. You need to put the best bits of information right out in front. This way the reader will take the bait early and stay on course longer. Keeping your best for the last will not work for the simple reason that the reader may not reach it if they are distracted.
Put the most interesting bits of information always at the beginning: the introduction, the start of a new paragraph, and at the beginning of a sentence.
3. Play with the Visual Nature of the Texts
This needs to be done with extreme caution, least it turns gimmicky. If there is an important point you want to highlight, you could underline that phrase or sentence. If two or three words summarize the point of a paragraph, they can be presented in bold.
Changing the visual nature of text in your content achieve two things: One, it will catch the attention of the reader, which is always the main aim; and two, it can provide a path that the reader can follow to go through the content faster.
We Leave with A KIS
Keep It Simple (KIS). The one thing that you should take away from this post is that simplicity always works when it comes to writing for the web.