Take a moment and let your mind wander for a second, and actually imagine what a website is. Quite often new web designers, and the occasional few with experience, forget what the main focal point of any website is. It is understandable to some degree of course, but not excusable. This focal point I am referring to is the content. All the aesthetically pleasant color schemes, design elements, and cool functionality won’t change that the content is all that matters in the end.
Because of that, I’ve decided to start a small article series on what I’ve learned from being a freelance writer for some years now. To start off, we’re going to look at a couple of considerations to check out before the writing actually begines.
Habits of the Average Website Visitor
No matter how anyone wants to look at it, or try to justify it in any way, the society as a whole is not one based off enjoying reading. Maybe the downfall of reading can be counted towards the instant gratification people have grown accustom to, or the slowly shrinking attention span has something to do with it. Whatever the reasoning may be, when a visitor happens to come across a website there is a slim chance that they’ll be reading the copy in its entirety.
Instead of doing that, here is what will probably be occurring:
- Scan and skim
- Judge entire copy off of headlines
- Read first and last sentence of paragraphs
- Search for sections of copy that appeared in their search results
- Look for short bullet points
- Head straight to the conclusion in hopes that it is a quality summary
These habits don’t hold well for those sites that have a wealth of copy necessary to be placed into the website. So the only course of action is to find the proper way of displaying the copy that will be found satisfiable.
Practices Not Worth Implementing
Remember back in school when your English teacher would drill certain requirements for what a good written body of work would look like? Yeah, those don’t apply anywhere outside of standardized testing and school. Anyone who has been around for a while understands that most of the rules for good writing learned in school don’t make much sense outside the aforementioned settings. So here is a quick rundown of what you should ignore:
- Sentences must be a certain length
- A paragraph must at least have 5 sentences
- Paragraphs should have ranging sentence length
- Variety in word choice is highly effective
Plan for Copy Based on Design
How the copy is displayed must be a fitting match with the design style and elements of the website itself. This may seem like web design 101, but this is something that can never be stressed enough. The design of a site sets the tone for how important the actual copy will appear. It is the job of the design to enhance the copy after all.
The best way to practice this tip is to just start placing the copy into the website. Once its been put in, take a step back and then look at it again. The ways of how it can be broken up, while still maintaining its message, will just start to magically pop up into your head.
In the next article in this series, I’ll be giving a few good tips on improving the actual writing process.