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June 20, 2013

Website Content Best Practices

Less than 20% of web users read pages word for word. Instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. You’ve got less than 30 seconds to capture your reader’s attention on your web page – yikes! To help create a better reading experience, and to make sure they understand the most important things you have to say, here are a few techniques to use:

Keep it short

  • One idea per paragraph
  • Short chunks of text
  • Keep the main idea in the first sentence of each paragraph
  • Keep pages short (500 words or less, if you can)
  • If pages have to be longer, use jump links  (a list of the main headings at the top of the page, which, when clicked, take the user further down the page to that section.)

Use headings, sub-headings, bold, and lists

  • Descriptive headings should give the most important information on the page
  • You are likely to have a choice of 6 heading styles, H1 (largest), through H6 (smallest). Use them to break up content.
  • Guide the reader’s eye to the most important content bolding, bulleted lists, and sub-headings
  • Bold important keywords (but only the most important – don’t overdo it)

Use links

The internet is so valuable because it is, in essence, a collection of interconnected pieces of information. Use links to provide additional resources to your visitors, and guide them through the purchasing process.

  • Link to other pages on or off your site to allow visitors to find more information
  • Do not underline text unless it is a link – users will assume it is

Use active voice

Instead of using phrases like  “The ball was kicked by Tom,”  try “Tom kicked the ball.” Replacing passive voice for active voice makes it clearer who is performing the activity.  Using the active voice is one of the best ways to write more clearly. When you focus on the “action,” your writing will be lively and easy to read.

Use the inverted pyramid writing style

The inverted pyramid style is traditionally used in news stories. Journalists need to get the most important information into the first few sentences of their stories in case a piece is trimmed for space. You can use the same method to make sure your site’s visitors get the most important details before they move on. Your page will break down like this:

  1. Attention grabbing headline
  2. Who, What, When, Where, Why, How? (or, as required for the subject matter)
  3. General info & background
  4. Call-to-action (what do you want the reader to do now?)

What other techniques do you use to write great web content? Let us know in the comments, or give us a shout if you need help with your website content.