Writing Content for the Web

The most important aspect of writing effective website content is to understand your audience.

Understand Your Audience

To do this, think through and write down:

  • Who you are writing for
  • What they need
  • What they want
  • What motivates them
  • Who or what influences them
  • Their fears
  • Their goals

Once you have a better understanding of your audience's mindset, you can more easily write content that addresses their concerns and highlights what is important to them.

Understanding Audiences

Structure Pages to Help Website Users Scan Quickly

Website visitors have a short attention span and want to find answers to their specific questions very quickly without a lot of reading.

Break Up Content with Headings

Site visitors will skim the headings on the page to help them decide what part of the content to read. If there are no headlines, the site user will likely try to find their answer elsewhere instead of reading every word.

To help users find the content they want very quickly, use many clear headlines followed by only one or two short paragraphs. Using more headings will aid usability and improve your search engine optimization.

Use Lists When Possible

Lists are easier to skim than paragraphs, so use them when it's appropriate. If you are communicating program requirements or something along those lines, a list is much easier to refer to than a paragraph of text.

Writing for Scanners

Use Keywords to Help Your Search Engine Optimization

Think about words that a site user might use in a web search to find the information on your page. Use these keywords in:

  • page name
  • page title
  • headers
  • link text
  • page content
  • image names

Using keywords throughout your website will improve your find-ability in major search engines. For more information on search engine optimization, please visit the SEO training page on this website.

Writing for Search Engines

Be Concise

Keep your messages short, simple, and to the point. Your audience is much more likely to remember information if they don't have to read through a bunch of flowery words and repetition.

Limit headings to eight or nine words, and limit paragraphs to one to three sentences.

Guide to Writing User-centered Content

Make Sure Your Website Complies with Accessibility Laws

In addition to naming images with keywords, be sure to always include alt text on images so that people with bad eyesight or blindness will know what the image represents. An added bonus is that this practice will also boost your search engine rankings.

Image Guide