Writing for the web
Jakob Nielsen- Nielsen Norman Group- www.useit.com “people rarely read web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. In research on how people read websites we found that 79% of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word by word”
Basic article structure for print
- Head (or title)
- Strap / stand first- short sentence explaining what the article is about
- Byline – name of the author
- Sub heading or cross heading every 300-400 words
- Page length
Basic article structure for online
- Head (or title)
- Page length- 250-750 words half or less than print
- Sub heading/ cross headings are more frequent (as frequent as every 50-100 words)
First page (above the fold) contains the most important information
Online writing style
- Use concise simple language. Avoid marketing jargon
- Speak to the reader. Be conversational
- Use shorter sentences
- Make headings simple and descriptive
- Make content scannable
- The more simple the better. Needs to be understandable
- Because web users SCAN rather than READ you need to:
- Grab the reader from the strap. Give them a reason to read
- Use shorter paragraphs. One idea per paragraph
- Break up the copy with frequent, informative cross headers
- Use block quotes and call outs. These demand extra focus. A block quote is a quote from a source in the middle of the copy. A call out is a box containing a juicy snippet of the copy itself.
- Use lists to make key points. All these tips make copy easier to scan
- Use multimedia to tell the story
A conversational tone works well on the web- nut don’t take it too far.
Press releases should be written like press or magazine articles- to convince journalists to run a story.
In this workshop we learnt about writing for the web. We were shown the important differences to take into consideration when writing pieces for the web rather than for print. We learnt the difference between the structures for print and web pieces aswell as handy tips to remember in order to keep a web based audience engaged. This workshop was helpful as we are entering the world of journalism in an increasingly digital age and it is important that we learn the differences between writing to please the online audience compared to that of traditional media.