Writing for the web is a unique style of writing. It’s easy to make mistakes that drive the audience away and you only have a very small window of opportunity to grab their attention. People skim when they read online, so online writing needs to be punchy to draw attention. Here are 5 common mistakes people make writing online. If you can avoid these you’re on the way to web success.
1. Not Grabbing Attention
You need to grab the attention of your audience when they visit. Sounds simple but when you are dealing with a few seconds to accomplish this, the task becomes a bit more difficult – and even more important.
Short and Sweet
Keep your paragraphs short and pack every word with value. Your titles and subheadings need to catch the eye and speak directly to what the section deals with. Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice content in favor of short blurbs. You want your reader to read them and come away knowing something new, not wondering what the point was.
For emphasis in content paragraphs, make things stand out. Use bold tags for keywords. If you’re using links, give them descriptive text instead of just a hyperlink. All of these are ways you can grab the attention of your readers and hold it while they browse your content.
2. Not Utilizing Formatting
Formatting is important in web reading. There are a number of mistakes that can be made in formatting. Make sure everything is aligned properly in different browsers. You don’t want your text to create a horizontal scroll bar. Make sure everything wraps properly.
Create Breaks in Content
Use line breaks for paragraphs. Break up long paragraphs into multiple smaller paragraphs. List information in list format with numbered lists or bullet points. White space in your text is just as important as the text itself. If you have giant walls of dense paragraphs, the average reader’s eyes will glaze over and they’ll skip over the page.
3. Not Being Relevant
Your content above all needs to be relevant. Think about your audience. Who are they? Make sure you’re writing content that your readers will actually want to read. That’s what separates online journals with blogs. Journals are personal information that means nothing to anyone else, blogs are of public interest and relevancy.
Stick to the Subject
You need to be honest with yourself about your writing. You can’t delude yourself into thinking your content is important when it’s not, or that your readers care when they don’t. However, that doesn’t mean you need to write everything in a far-off impersonal tone. Write personally, directly to the reader, and entice them.
4. Not Obeying Grammar
Grammar rules are incredibly important online. It seems like everywhere you go you spot people writing with u instead of you and other chat shortcuts. That might be fine for texting, but web writing is entirely different. The more work your readers have to do to read, the less likely any of them will. Write properly.
5. Not Being Specific
This comes back to knowing your readers. If you use business terms, specific medical terms, acronyms or other esoteric words, define them. If your readers don’t understand what you’re writing, you’re not writing well enough. Anything that might not be commonly known to your readers deserves a definition.
Once you realize that writing for the web is almost the opposite of academic writing, it all falls into place. Every word needs to be important to your readers. Put some effort into it, know your readers, and your web writing will succeed.