10 tips for writing for the Web

Once you embrace a fundamental truth about audience behavior, these essentials can help you reach it better.

Back in 1997, Jakob Nielsen ran some seminal research looking at how we read online.

He found that most of us don’t read—we scan.

This means that when writing for the Web, whether it’s a blog post, news article or plain old webpage, we need to think very carefully about structure and formatting to ensure that our readers (or scanners) pick up the most important points.

Here are 10 tips to help you write better Web copy:

1. Keep it short

We’re all busy. So, unless what you’ve got to say is insanely gripping (it likely won’t be), say it and then stop. No rambling.

2. Make your last point first

Many of us will have been taught that, when writing, you should carefully set out your arguments first and then make an informed conclusion.

Online, the reverse is often more effective.

Make your main point first, and then explain why you think it’s the case.

3. Keep paragraphs short

Look at the BBC website—this is one of the major U.K. online media sites where content is written specifically for the Web. (Newspaper websites often have copy written specifically for print.)

The paragraphs are incredibly short—often just a sentence long.

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