Writing for the web is just like writing an article for a magazine or newspaper, right? Wrong. Totally wrong. You’re forgetting one of the basic principles of the internet – people who are surfing the web don’t really want to read.
That’s crazy, I hear you cry. But it’s not as crazy as it first sounds. People usually go online for some kind of information. They go to different websites, tending not to stay on one site for too long. They scan read, looking for that nugget of info they’re after. If they don’t see it straight away, they’re likely to go somewhere else.
And that’s pretty scary. If you don’t engage someone almost immediately, if you don’t draw them in, then they’re unlikely to stay and read anymore. When you’re writing for the web, that’s one of the most important things to bear in mind.
But how can you persuade them to stay on your site? And, maybe more importantly, actually do what you want them to do.
Well, firstly, think about what the people coming to your site will be looking for and make sure they can find it pretty damn easily. This isn’t just about writing in an easy-to-read manner (although this will help) but it’s about knowing the people coming to your site inside out – what do they want? Make this easy for them to find or they’ll leave. It really is as simple as that. And when they’ve found what they want, they may just read more.
It’s also massively important to put the key pieces of information first. This means telling the reader straight away what you do and how you can help them.
And remember – people don’t read. They scan. So make sure you have effective headlines, images and maybe even some bullet points. They need to see information at a glance.
It’s a dog eat dog world out there. If people don’t see what they want within the first few seconds, they’ll leave. And you can be sure there’ll find someone else who can provide the information they’re looking for. And that person will probably get their business.
People are lazy. Harsh but true. Write with this in mind. Short paragraphs, avoiding jargon or repetition – all these things can help keep people interested in your site.
And it’s not just the home page of your website you need to worry about. People could come into your website through any of your pages. So they’re all equally important. You need to make sure that every single page is simple, easy to read and that the copy is as engaging and relevant as possible. You wouldn’t want to lose someone just because you made your “Contact us” page a little too wordy.
If you remember only one thing out of this blog post it should be this – keep it simple. As long as you follow this golden rule, you’re already halfway there.