Article writing tips, techniques, strategies

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Smart Writing and Layout Styles for the Web

If you write web content, it may be a mystery to you as to what “works” and what doesn’t work. You want people to read what you write, but are they understanding your content or clicking away soon after stopping on your page? If the latter, you stand to lose visitors and, ultimately, sales. Let’s take a look at how you can rework your site to one that attracts and keeps visitors.

Know your audience.
Unless your site is geared exclusively to the scholarly crowd, gear your words toward a younger audience. Many web content producers know that language understood by 12 and 13 year olds is much more effective for attracting and keeping guests than anything else. This takes into consideration a couple of things: not everyone who visits your site is well versed in English, but they have enough of an understanding to read at a middle school grade level. If your goal is to reach the masses, you must consider a global audience particularly an audience where English is not their native tongue. In addition, unfortunately many Americans are – to be polite – lacking in certain abilities when it comes to reading. No need to stand on your platform explaining why it is this way – it just is.

Speak to your audience.
Use “you” when writing. Too much talking about yourself is not very interesting. People want to know what you can do for them. Testimonials, however, can be effective especially if it discusses a problem and the resolution to the problem is shared. Create empathy!

Short and sweet.
I already violated this particular principle by writing a lengthy paragraph and by including a long sentence previously. Oh, well...live and learn! Still, many people approach the internet as something to be scanned, not read. So, include plenty of white space and split up your paragraphs. Keep your sentences short too. Mrs. Grimsley, your 8th grade English teacher might not approve, but her students today will!

Use bullets, numbers, or bold.
Make what you want to say stand out by bulleting, numbering or “bolding” the beginning of your sentences. In other words, lists work very well on the internet.
Select nice fonts. I love Times New Roman, but it is best used only for print. Instead, use Trebuchet, Arial, and Verdana as they are easier on the eyes. Give your visitors eye strain and they will look away...they will probably miss something too.

Grammar and spelling.
Proper use of grammar as well as being careful not to misspell are critical parts to your writing. Do not rely on spell checks and a thesaurus exclusively as they cannot pick up every misused or misapplied word.

Get an opinion.
Feedback from others will help determine whether your site is readable, friendly to the eyes, easy to navigate, etc. Don’t expect criticism to always be wrapped in niceness; take what is said as constructive criticism and then apply the changes to your site.

If you are new at web content writing, it is likely that it will take some time for you to “get in the flow” of writing web content. Of course, not everyone is able to fully grasp this method, so your best option may be to hire someone who can get the job done for you instead.

Matthew Keegan is The Article Writer who writes on just about any and every issue imaginable. You can preview samples from his high performing site at http://www.thearticlewriter.com

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