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Writing Effectively For The Web

Writing should be suited not only to the audience for which it is intended but also to the medium in which it will be presented.

For web writing, that means anticipating the content the user wants and making it easy to access.

Users scan the text on a page in order to find the content that they’re looking for. They WILL NOT read your page if they cannot scan it – and you have only 2-4 seconds to capture their interest.

The following guidelines will help you create effective, scannable text for the web:

  • Significantly less text than a print piece
  • Short sentences, short paragraphs, short words (no jargon or unnecessarily large words)
  • Bullet points
  • Specific, short headings and sub-headings
  • Bold keywords to help users find key ideas

In the example below, the most important facts are retained and presented in a bulleted list for easy scanning. The content of the message stays the same, but the modified version is easier to access quickly.


Excerpt from Liberty Journal story:

The Glass mansion’s original office space will be reconstructed to fit the time period when he served as U.S. senator, she said. Falwell Sr.’s office has been preserved as it was when he used it. The offices, located on the first level, will be open for tours by appointment.
Johnson said the other downstairs rooms will be public rooms for visitors who come to see the memorial garden, which is located in front of the mansion and contains Falwell Sr.’s grave. There will also be a small gift shop.

The four upstairs bedrooms will be restored to fit the 1920s period. They will serve as overnight accommodations for special guests to the University.
Johnson said the goal was to have most of the work done by the first of March.

Modified for web:

The Glass mansion renovation is scheduled to be complete by March, and will include:

  • Rooms restored to the time period in which senator Glass served in the U.S. Senate
  • Jerry Falwell Sr.’s office preserved as it was when he used it with tours by appointment
  • Gift shop
  • Bedrooms upstairs to accommodate special guests to the University