Think about the last book you read. Unless you’re into picture books, it probably had long blocks of text. Now imagine those same blocks of text on the web. Did you just shudder?
Writing for the web is much different than print. I like to think of it as the difference between what you expect picking up a book vs. a magazine. There’s a reason there is only one New Yorker.
The secret to writing online copy that is commanding and effective is knowing the tricks:
– Split it up. Avoid large blocks of text. Break up your message with lists, bullets, headers, white space, pictures, videos, etc. The easier your content is on the eye, the longer your visitors will stay.
– Keep it short. Unless you have the storytelling talent of Dooce, the rule is to use as few words as possible. If you need to explain something in detail, link to it. That way people will be able to find the information they need without their eyes starting to bleed.
– Only make promises you can keep. There is so much content on the web that makes ridiculous promises. Use engaging, compelling headlines, but make sure you deliver.
– SEO Optimize. Write for the web in a smart way. Use keywords whenever possible, incorporating them in a discreetly.
– Tell a story. Since there is so much content out there, one great way to hold attention spans is to tell a story. It’s not always appropriate, but when used, it’s very effective.
What are your tricks for writing for the web? Do you have a formula that works for you?