What are the principles of writing for the web?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - writing

While web copywriting should adhere to all of the general rules of good writing there are some additional technical as well as stylistic rules which apply to online text.

One of the most vital things to keep in mind is that web readers are active participants as opposed to simply passive readers. They will click on links, navigate to new pages, multitask when browsing as well as open multiple tabs.

They will not read a website page from beginning to end but rather establish their own journey through it. This is one of the explanations of why creating a user experience is so important and why writing for readability is crucial. Keeping their attention is very challenging and your approach to writing for the Internet must take this into account.

Keep your writing for the web short and simple

The quicker as well as more directly you can make your point, the better. Put the most important information notably at the top so that it appears above the fold of the website (the part of the site that is visible without scrolling down).

Break your writing up into short, readable paragraphs. This creates space and makes it simpler to read. Above all, make sure that you maintain a no-nonsense approach to your brand and product. Web users will easily see through your marketing rhetoric and as a result, will mistrust your message.

Be sincere and honest

Your writing must show the credibility of your brand and needs to be genuine so that readers feel a personal connection via the impersonal online medium. Always write truthfully and sincerely regarding your product. Readers will instantly notice when your writing is hype as opposed to genuine enthusiasm.

Avoid exaggerated words and cliched  ‘marketing speak’. Web readers want content to be frank, clear and true and any indication that this may not be the case will push them away. A good way to come across as sincere is to embrace a friendly, open as well as unassuming tone.

Focus on headlines, leads as well as captions

Often, you focus so much on the main body of text that you ignore the ‘little extras’ such as the headline, the lead (the introductory line) and captions for your pictures.

Don’t overlook these aspects. The headline is undoubtedly the most crucial part of your writing on the page as that is what prompts a person to read your content – or not. Try to have the headline both as short and as specific as you can.

The lead, or first line of your copy, is important as most readers decide if they will read the remainder of the text-based only upon it and the headline alone. There is a copywriting idiom which states that the purpose of the headline is to get the first line read and the aim of the first line is to get the reader to read second line, and so on.

Captions for your pictures are also important as they assist readers to scan the page for thought-provoking information. The caption should be pretty short, explain your image and show its relevance to the text.

Have a clear call-to-action

A call-to-action is a statement that tells the readers exactly what you want them to do:

  • Should they purchase your product?
  • Distribute your article?
  • Follow you on Twitter?

The only efficient way to get individuals to do what you want is to tell them clearly. Your call to action will be linked to the goal of your marketing campaign and to your measure of conversion.

If you would like to grow your online social community the required action will be to join your social networking profiles. If you would like to increase sales you may require visitors to download your brochure or free sample.

Get in touch with the Digital School of Marketing

Want to learn more about copywriting for the web? If you do then you need to study our Digital Copywriting and Content Marketing Course. For more information, please follow this link.

DSM Digital school of marketing - Copywriting and content marketing course registration