VIDEO: How to Write for an Online Audience

Below is a video from Vikki Maver on how to write for an online audience. Here are some of the take-aways from her presentation.

It’s not about you. It’s about them.

Know your audience and meet their needs. The webpage isn’t really about you, it’s about helping your reader get the information they need.

Make your page scannable

People don’t read your content; they scan it. They read about 28% of the text on a webpage at most, but it’s probably more like 20%. The longer the text, the less they read.

The Six Pillars of Web Writing

The bulk of her presentation was about the six pillars of web writing: guidelines to help you create and improve upon your web pages’ text.

  1. Clarity
    • Figure out what you need to say and say it in the clearest way.
  2. Simplicity
    • Get rid of the clutter. Only say what is necessary. Avoid jargon and fluff.
  3. Brevity
    • Make it short.
  4. Humanity
    • Write from a more natural, conversational voice. Also, address your audience with “you” language, rather than in the third person. For example, “If you want to study abroad, join our group.” rather than, “Students who wish to study abroad should join our group.”
  5. Scan-ability
    • Start with the most important information at the top of the page, what the visitor must have. Deliver your message in the first 25 words. Use lists when possible. Make links descriptive so they make sense out of context (no “click here”).
  6. Credibility
    • Communicate rather than market. Don’t exaggerate. Make sure you proofread to avoid typos or spelling mistakes.

Following these tips will make your page easier for your audience to use. If you have time, watch Vikki’s presentation.