How You Can Create A Welcoming Website – Part Four – Writing For The Web

Photo by pigpogm via Flickr

How You Can Create A Welcoming Website – Part One – Your Home Page

How You Can Create A Welcoming Website – Part Two – Your Entire Website

For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing a series of posts on how to create a welcoming and audience-centered website. In my final post in this series, I want to go into more detail about writing for the web.

But before I go into the actual writing part, we need to focus on getting your website visitor to read your content in the first place. In the previous posts, I explained how important your website’s look is. First impressions are key. If your web pages look cluttered and sloppy, your visitor might not sick around to read your content, no matter how great it is.

You might think you are being creative by using a red background with white type. Don’t do it. Stick to black type on a white background. It’s not boring. You are thinking of your audience and giving them something that’s easy to read. Leave colors for your logo and graphics.

Avoid using fancy type. A simple font such as Ariel or Georgia works well. Sans serif fonts are usually recommended for websites, but simple serif fonts are also good.  

Bigger is better. Use at least a 14 point font, so your visitor isn’t straining to read your content. Here is more information on choosing fonts. Want people to read your nonprofit website content? Start here.

People don’t read copy on the web; they scan it, and they read online content 25% slower than print. Therefore, you need to break up your text with lots of white space and use short paragraphs, lists, bullets, bolded headings, and bolded words. Keep the pages clean, and include links for more detailed information. Using one or two pictures or images per page will also help break up the text. 

Again, your goal is to get people to read your content, but if the type is too small and there are no spaces between paragraphs, you might lose them before they even get a chance to read what you wrote.

Now, about your writing. Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about the 4 Cs of Writing Good Content While this covers all types of copy, it is especially relevant for website copy.

Is it clear? Make sure you know your intention. What results do you want? For example, your donation page should compel someone to donate.

Is it concise? Use as few words as possible, but use strong words and leave out any unnecessary adverbs, adjectives, or filler.

Is it conversational? Write in the second person and don’t use jargon or any words people need to look up in the dictionary.

Is it compelling?  Start with a good opening and keep your reader interested throughout.

Use the inverted pyramid, where you include the most important information first, and make your point right away. Of course, your content should also be well written and free of grammatical errors and typos.
Each page on your website might have a different target audience. For example, people visiting your volunteer page may not know your organization, so include a short description of what you do. 

Remember that you want to create a welcoming website for your audience. If you don’t, your visitors won’t stay long and could miss out on your call to action and other messages.

Resources – Writing for the Web

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