Writing for websites

Defining your purpose and understanding your users is even more important when developing a website. ‘Purpose’ and ‘user’ are important for all communication products, but more so when working on a website.

If you don’t clearly define your purpose you run the risk of building an elaborate website that users love, but that doesn’t achieve the objectives of your organisation.

If you don’t understand users well; why they come to your website and what they want to do there; another website is just a click away.

Users don’t read, they scan

Scanning is a common practice with all communication products, but when users are on a website it is the prime way of gaining information. Make sure headings are clear and provide useful information. Provide information ‘point first’ – with the information you want users to read at the top of your page, realising that very few users will read an entire web page in great detail. (except this one, of course!)

Don’t reinvent the wheel

The pattern for the way websites work is becoming pretty established. For example, navigation is usually at the top or in the left column. Break these established patterns and you” confuse and lose users.

Small, digestible chunks

All good information products separate pieces of information into easily understood pieces. And they make the relationships between these pieces clear. On the web, the pieces need to be a little smaller than on printed material. People don’t concentrate as well when they are reading on screen.