Writing content for the web is different than writing for a magazine or other media. So much of the time I see websites that are filled with pages and pages of dry, long-winded, boring text that is doing nothing to help connect with the site visitor. There are plenty of websites that contain beautiful imagery and great design work but then fail to complete the package with good content. Here are some guidelines for writing good website content.
Less is more. People reading a magazine have time to read articles and stories. They are sitting down with a paper publication and are expecting to invest 15 minutes into a reading session. On the web, attention spans are measured in seconds. For this reason, web content must get to the point very quickly and directly. When someone is visiting a website, it’s usually because that person is looking for a solution, getting a question answered, buying a product, or trying to achieve some other specific goal. This means that most people will have very little patience with web pages that ramble and take more than a few seconds to digest.
Use bullet points. Since web content needs to be action-oriented and get straight to the point, bullets points often help your readers scan and digest text very quickly.
Break paragraphs with a double line break and no indentation. In a book or paper publication, indented paragraphs are the norm. In web pages (and in emails, as well), paragraphs should not be indented and should be separated by a double line break. This improves readability.
Use polished grammar. While this seems obvious, I continue to see websites riddled with grammar mistakes, typos, and broken sentences. Content on the web should be written with the same care that would go into a magazine article or a book. Polished, professionally-written website content will dramatically boost the credibility of your organization.
Keep it constituent-focused. A constituent is a customer, a donor, a member, or some other type person with an interest in your organization. That person is taking the time to read the content on your website. The content on your website should connect with that person and show him or her the value gained from your solution, product, service, or mission. Some amount of self-promotion is acceptable but should not become the focus of your message. Instead, keep the majority of your content focused on the benefits to your constituents. Another great direction for your website content is to tell stories about how your organization helped other customers solve a problem. Case studies like this take the focus off of self-promotion and place it onto your constituents. This gives your content higher perceived value, which builds trust.
Content is often the most neglected piece of a website. Be sure to present a complete package to your site visitors with effective professional content. Crafting your message carefully can dramatically improve trust with your constituents which leads to greater success for your organization.