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January 25, 2011 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

What We Read #1: Writing for the Web Tips

How do you establish a positive user experience through copy?

Great user experiences don't happen by accident. Present your readers with organized, scannable copy that will capture attention quickly and convey messages clearly. Doing so will help increase positive user experience on your site, and that can translate into more sales and leads.

This post is the first installment of our new What We Read series, which offers clients the option to gain some insight into our philosophy. We've chosen a few articles from Jakob Nielsen's online column, Alertbox, on writing for the web.

Want advice on writing effective copy? Take Nielsen's.

Deemed "the king of usability" by Internet Magazine and web developers alike, Dr. Jakob Nielsen is an expert on how people use websites. Luckily for us, Nielsen publishes his research findings on Alertbox, an online column he updates bi-weekly. Here's a few articles to get started with:

How Little Do Users Read?

Studies show that users read only about 20% of a site's content. What does this mean? We need to trim and "chunkify" copy as much as possible while still answering people's questions. Good usability can increase the business value of your website.

Read How Little Do Users Read?

World’s Best Headlines: BBC News

The best headlines are concise and meaningful on their own. Since they often appear out of context in search results, headlines should convey the gist of a story, allowing readers to know whether or not they’ll like the full article in advance. This predictability saves your readers time and patience and improves their experience on your site.

Read World’s Best Headlines: BBC News

Blah-Blah Text: Keep, Cut, or Kill?

Cut things down to size: Most web readers don’t read introductory "blah blah" text on sites. Nielsen recommends stripping away all "marketese" from your copy so the answers to these questions can be found as quickly as possible:

  • "WHAT is this page about?"
  • "WHY should I care?"

Read Read Blah-Blah Text: Keep, Cut, or Kill?

Writing Style for Print vs. Web

Web writing and print writing require different approaches for entertaining and educating readers. With print, readers willingly follow the author's narrative. The opposite is true for web content.

When reading online, users piece together content from multiple sites and create their own experiences. People read websites with a specific goal in mind, and they will leave if it isn't met. Read up on Nielsen's tips to ensure maximum readability for your site content.

Read Writing Style for Print vs. Web

Check back for our future installments of What We Read!

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