Content really IS king

King Content in his robe and crownA corporate website is often the first face of a company that people see. Most companies put a lot of effort into attracting visitors to their websites, but not nearly enough into making sure they can quickly and easily find what they need. A website can be beautiful, but if it doesn’t convey the information people are looking for it is useless.

The web presents an opportunity for an interactive conversation. But this conversation is fragmented – disrupted by elements other than words and randomly accessed – in order of what attracts the users’ attention. Visitors are fickle and fast, and you have mere seconds to provide the answers they are looking for or they will leave. People don’t “read” a website as thoroughly as they read a printed page. Research from the usability experts at Nielsen Norman Group shows that less than 40% of users stay on a page long enough to read half the text on that page.

Since most readers only scan web copy – what can you do to ensure that the content you create is as effective as it can be?

  1. Write like an Egyptian. Use the inverted pyramid style of presentation to prioritize information. Start with Who, What, When, Where and Why, followed by extra details and interesting facts, with least important information at the bottom
  2. Use plain language. Big words don’t make you sound smarter. Use short sentences, simple words and phrases and a conversational tone to improve comprehension for all your visitors.
  3. Focus on readers, not yourself. Keep your message user-centric with practical messaging that focuses on how the product or service is used. Use words that people will relate to, not business jargon. Talk TO your users, not AT them.
  4. Make your text easy to scan. Online text should contain 50% less than copy written for print. Use headings to convey the overall message, bold text to draw attention to key points with numbered and bulleted lists for the details. 

These general rules for writing for the web will go a long way in helping keep visitors on your site long enough to learn what you do and find what they are looking for. And maybe start an interactive conversation.

Posted by Linda Jackson