I am happy to display my new acquisition.   A step by step guide on writing for the web. Recommended by a fellow blogger and after some research, I decided this was the book to read.

Review of Chapter 1 - The Yahoo! Style Guide

To ensure that I remember the key points and to help you along the way,  I am going to summarize the key takeaways from each chapter as part of a bi-weekly Internet Writing Tips Series.

Chapter 1 – Key Takeaways

Three basic guidelines to writing for the internet – Keep it short, front-loaded and simple.  This means keeping your sentences and paragraphs short, using relevant headers and subheaders and putting the most important information upfront. web writing

  • Put the most important content in the top left hand corner or the top of the screen. Research shows that’s where people tend to scan first before pressing the back arrow.  You have to catch the attention of the reader in a matter of seconds, so make sure you put the information in the right spot.
  • Get straight to the point, don’t waste time leading up to the main information
  • Use the headlines/ sub subheadings to place your keywords or important information
  • The book recommends writing lower than the general comprehension level of the target audience. Its not about talking down to your readers but keeping the text simple enough for quickly scanning through the page for relevance. Here the author recommends having a Flesch Reading Ease score of at least 60%.  Having tested this logic over a couple of articles, I think the score makes sense when writing content targeting a certain kind of audience. But when the client wants the content to target technical experts in the field (like software or finance) then this rule cannot apply. The score is worth checking for each web copy that you submit.
  • Don’t try to write overly witty or smart headlines, instead write headlines that indicate the information contained in the section.
  • Write for a global audience. Use gender neutral terms ( firefighter instead of fireman; humankind instead of mankind). Avoid culture specific words, unless of course you have a specific audience.
  • Every page on your website should have a call to action or the next navigation step requiring the reader to continue to stay on your website for more information.
  • Anchor texts using words like ‘ Click here’ are outdated, instead opt for ‘ Learn more’, ‘Buy Now’, ‘Contact us’ phrases.
  •  Put labels on all images in your copy. Use Keywords in captions of images/ videos. Add alternative text into the HTML code for the image.

Here’s a related article that gives useful writing tips for the web as well.

If you found this informative, then watch out for the next chapter review.