I have another special treat for you guys today, a guest-post by my web-designer and writer, Letitia Englund. But first! the winner for last week’s query-critique giveaway is Carrie-Anne!! Everyone else, remember that if you contact Lauren and mention my blog, she’ll give you a 10% deduction on her prices
Writing for the web is different than writing for any other medium. Simply put, writing for the web means you write for an audience of scanners rather than readers.
And no, this is not a post about writing for digitizing devices or robots. Although that could be kind of an awesome topic to cover.
What I mean is the majority of us (79%, according to older but well-known research) are simply not interested in reading word-for-word online. We may do this in our offline lives, but on the web we generally want to get in, get out and get on to the next thing.
So we scan.
We look for headlines
We look for emphasis.
We look for bold text.
We look for content that is quoted or otherwise made to stand out.
When all else fails, we decide tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) and generally move on without remorse. Why we do this is unclear – perhaps the information superhighway is speeding along so fast, we’re afraid to slow down – but online scanning is a habit well-ingrained for many of us.
In fact, you may only read 20-30% of the words in this post!
What does this mean for web writers**? Be a ruthless editor on the web. Instead of including more content, more details, more descriptive words or marketese, aim for less. Focus on what you really mean to say and make every word count.
When in doubt: spread it out. Don’t be afraid to break up long sentences, paragraphs or whole posts and pages to create some breathing room. Use well-placed spacing and any of the formatting tricks noted above to guide your audience to the key points.
The more you respect your readers’ time and attention by working with their instincts, the more likely those readers will find your content enjoyable and want to come back for more.
**Of course, this presumes that you are writing in hopes of attracting an online audience and selling something (your stories, your knowledge, your products/services). Different cases may call for different approaches!
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed Letitia’s post as much as I did. I also have to include the fact that she is extraordinarily creative! She recently opened an Etsy shop called Sock Doll Stories. I have one of my own and sent one to a friend for her birthday- go check them out!