This may be Rule 9 - but it is the most important rule to remember - websites are about words…so spend your time creating and editing well-written, concise content
Use "plain language" - words that will be understood by your intended audience.
Writing for the web is not the same
as writing a term paper - it has to be brief, simple, layered
You’ll save yourself a lot of time and anguish if you teach your organization how to write for the web before they begin creating content - it's easier to be a teacher than an editor!
For more tips on "plain language," visit www.plainlanguage.gov
Here are some important rules to follow in writing for the web:
Use "Writing for the Web" in your packet.
- Define your audience
- Who are you writing for?
- Don’t try to make "one size fits all" - different audiences have different perspectives
- We wouldn’t try to explain a HUD mortgage insurance program to
a first time homebuyer the same way we’d explain it to a lender
- Talk it -- then write it
- People expect the web to be informal and personal--make your writing
- Choose your words carefully
- What words would your audience use? Before you start writing a
page, make a list of the 5 words your audience would associate with
that topic; then, make sure those 5 words appear on the page.
- Explain everything in simple terms
- Avoid acronyms and jargon
- Write to the 4th grade reading level
- Explain everything -- never assume
- Be consistent -- If you use a word or term one place, make sure it
means the same thing every time you use it
- Write "just enough" -- don't overwrite
- Web "junk" puts people off. Don't make your audience wade through
- Get to the point and stop
- Test everything before you post it
- Have friends or colleagues read it - see if they understand
- Ask if the words you’re using are clear and appropriate to the
- If your audience can’t understand what you’re telling them, they
won’t come back - win them the first time
- Do one final check -- for every page, make sure 3 things are clear:
- Who's the audience?
- What's the purpose of the page?
- What do you want the audience to do after they've visited the page?