Writing for the web: General rules
People don’t read. They scan.
Most visitors (79 percent) spend less than one minute on a page.
Text – particularly headlines -- attract before graphics.
People read web pages in an “F” pattern, starting at the upper left-hand corner and skimming across, then moving down and to the right.
Less is more.
Web users don’t read; they scan, looking for digestible bits of information.
Ask yourself, “Can I find ways to say this in fewer words?”
As a rule, limit yourself to one topic per page.
Write short sentences and paragraphs.
Divide long sentences into two. If a sentence is 20-30 words or longer, reread it nd consider dividing it into two shorter sentences.
Write short paragraphs. If a paragraph is longer than 4-5 sentences (100-125 words), reread it and consider dividing the long paragraph into two shorter ones.
Get their attention.
When possible, focus your “hottest” content on the upper left-hand corner of the screen, which is where most eyes scan first.
Tailor copy to your reader’s goals. Task-focused pages should emphasize action verbs like view, pay, share, sign up, submit, etc.
Use the inverted pyramid style.
Put the essential information first, with details to follow.
Front-load copy with essential information to ensure it’s at the top of the page.
Background details can be placed further down or linked to a separate page.
Write in active voice.
Your subject should be performing the action, rather than your subject having an action performed on it.
“Please send us your ideas” is active voice. “Your ideas can be submitted here” is passive voice.
Optimize pages for search engines (see Search Engine Optimization).
Write strong, compelling headlines in the “headline” field of your page
Break the copy up in to relevant categories/paragraphs with sub-heads
Identify one keyword or keyword phrase for the page you’re creating and employ it – and variations of it – regularly in the following places:
Images – reinforce your message
Visitors look at information (text) first; images last
Always uses alt text to describe your image
Images should never be used as filler or decoration
Avoid unclear or abstract images
General tips for creating scannable text (based on eye-tracking studies)
Use appropriate text decoration. Use bold and italics for emphasis, and avoid fancy fonts, colored fonts or all caps. Underlining is for hyperlinks only.
Avoid large blocks of text. Break up your copy with shorter paragraphs, headlines, subheads, decks and lists.
Good formatting draws attention. Use elements strategically in order to draw readers to your main points.
White space is good. It draws attention to the content you want front and center.
The further a person goes down a page, the less they read and the more they scan. Try to keep your content confined to what fits on a screen without having to scroll down.