Oh writers. No one has time to read what we write anymore. Even more reason to make what you do write concise, clear and effective. Writing for the web
, no matter how many times we say it, is different that writing for print. Readers are not likely to read every word
. They're going to glance, skim and scan their way through your content, most likely with a cup of coffee in hand or checking email simultaneously.
With such a wayward bunch of users, what's a web content writer to do? Chris Nodder, user experience specialist at Nielsen
Norman Group thinks you simplify content to make it as accessible as possible. Most users are visiting your site through a search engine rather than going directly to a site's home page, so why not make it easy to find what they want.
Nodder offers up some "Sign Posts" indicating "where else readers can go for more specific information and related resources such as white papers".* Navigation
: The structure of your site provides an easy way for users to return to sections they visited previously.
: URLs, links and captions that contain important content about your site.
: The titles, headings and "hidden information" about how users navigate your site that can be synthesized via web analytics
There can be many individuals involved in getting web content online and each has a special responsibility to ensure that they are helping users, not hindering them. Content providers
should be aware of their limitations. Know what you know and don't be afraid to link to other sites that might know more than yours does or is able to provide more depth information about a specific topic. Writers
should know how to write for the Web
. Using clever teasers in the text might not work as well as a catchy headline
. Search engines prefer words in titles than in text (unless the right keywords are included). Webmasters
should pay special attention to broken links, outdated information and keeping new information in the same browser, so that users aren't torn away from your site. Instead, they are forced to use the back button to get back to your site.
Like most things, it takes a village to provide useful content
. Even if they aren't going to read it, it's nice to know that it will get them where they're going.