Copywriting for the web

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					                                     Writing For The Web

Basically, why bother? Well:

   •   People read web pages differently as compared to print
   •   People rarely read web pages word by word
   •   They pick out individual words and sentences
   •   It is important to be able to write for the web so your copy will be relevant to website visitors

This article will provide tips on how to address these.




Write “scannable” text
Because web visitors scan web pages until they find something interesting to read or click on, we must
learn to write scannable text. Here's how.

Use meaningful subheadings
   •   Use subheading for each topic
   •   Make word meaningful, not clever
   •   Highlight the subheading so they stand out (color, size, weight, type)
   •   Separate the previous topic / paragraph by a space

Highlight keywords
   •   Highlight important keywords, or group of words
   •   Use color, size, weight, type
   •   Hyperlinks are a type of highlight
   •   Make sure hyperlinks highlights are recognizable

Use a bulleted list
   •   One idea per bullet
   •   The list should have a title or short description before it
   •   Restrain the use of fancy bullet points

Have one idea per paragraph
   •   As with conventional writing, have only one idea per paragraph
   •   Make each paragraph visible by a space in between

Use the inverted pyramid style of writing
   •   Start with the conclusion
   •   Beginning sentence should be important (this is what they read first)

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                                      Writing For The Web

   •   Succeeding sentences give details / support

Use only half the words you normally would
   •   Use half the words you would write in the conventional style
   •   Throw out unneeded poetic / prosaic flair
   •   Only use the essentials
   •   Remove any paragraphs, sentences and words that don't directly help get your point across




Different Styles
Let us see the contrast of different styles of copywriting. Here you will see why writing scannable text
is a must for the web.

Conventional
The conventional style is long an weary. Just looking at the text below doesn't make you want to read
it. Reserve this style for when the visitor wants to read the full version of a scannable text.

              London is filled with internationally recognized attractions
              that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In
              1996, some of the most popular places were The London Eye
              (355,000 visitors), Big Ben (132,166), London Bridge
              (100,000), West End (86,598), Madam Tussaud's Wax
              Museum (60,002), and Trafalgar Square (28,446).



Objective
A little bit better because it is direct to the point, however, this isn't still not good enough for the web.
Again, looking at the copy below is not very appetizing to read.

              London has several attractions. In 1996, some of the most-
              visited places were The London Eye (355,000 visitors), Big
              Ben (132,166), London Bridge (100,000), West End (86,598),
              Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum (60,002), and Trafalgar
              Square(28,446).




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                                      Writing For The Web

Scannable
By using a bulleted list, copy becomes scannable. Of course there should be a sentence, or label above
to identify what the list is about. This version is not concise enough though.

             London is filled with internationally recognized attractions
             that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In
             1996, some of the most popular places were:

                 •   The London Eye (355,000 visitors)
                 •   Big Ben (132,166)
                 •   London Bridge (100,000)
                 •   West End (86,598)
                 •   Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum (60,002)
                 •   Trafalgar Square (28,446)




Concise
Writing concisely is best because you throw out all the uneeded words. Compare the conventional
version and this: they practically say the same thing but this time with less than half the words.

                 In 1996, six of the best-attended attractions in The
                 London Eye, Big Ben, London Bridge, West End, Madam
                 Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and Trafalgar Square.




Concise + Scannable
Combine both styles gives the best results for web copywriting. It is direct to the point, and easy to
read. Yes, boys and girls, this is it.

             In 1996, six of the most-visited places in London were:

                 •   The London Eye
                 •   Big Ben
                 •   London Bridge
                 •   West End
                 •   Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum
                 •   Trafalgar Square




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                                     Writing For The Web

Credibility Is Important

   •   Don’t use promotional language
   •   Use photos to augment your point
   •   Use outbound links

Don’t use promotional language

   •   Don’t use promotional copy like “hottest on the web”
   •   People want facts, not hype
   •   Exaggeration makes copy suffer in credibility

Use photos to augment your point

   •   Good photos can speak a lot of words
   •   Don't write lengthy passages when a photo can do

On the web images speak a thousand words. So instead of explaining how many people went to the
last U2 Concert, just show them a picture.




              By showing a picture, you don't need to describe the crowd and how many
              people there are. A visual also backs-up your claim. It's evidence affirming what
              you are saying. The result is credibility -- and people want that.


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                                   Writing For The Web

Use outbound links

   •   Use links to other websites
   •   This tells visitors you are not afraid to cite your sources
   •   Target a new window for outbound links to keep visitors in your site




Use the active voice
Say “SUBSCRIBE NOW” rather than, “click here to subscribe.”




Check them out

Look at the following websites, they all write scannable copy. Notice that your eyes move through the
scannable text until you see something important enough to click on.

   •   CNN
   •   Yahoo
   •   Amazon

Do note that the scannable text is on the homepage, or section pages. When you click on an article, a
full version of the copy is available to the reader.




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Description: How to write copy for the web