The art of writing for the web
The Quick Word Company (client) explains why limitless data of digital doesn’t mean vast quantities of online content. Web writing is a discipline that many businesses still haven’t committed to.
In today’s digital landscape, engagement is important. Despite what you may think, we’re actually reading more than ever – blog posts, tweets, an article or website copy. Businesses are now self-publishers, and on many different platforms, and some just aren’t grasping how big a responsibility that is. Our words have lifespans beyond the moment, they’re our emissaries. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me – well, actually, yes they will. They’re out there working for or against us all the time.
We see a lot of websites with pages and pages of content – far too much! It’s important to remember that good web content has utility; it should serve a purpose. So before you click publish ask yourself: How does this piece of communication support our goals? How does it align with our mission and vision? Is this the best place to publish this information or would it be suited elsewhere, on social media or as a blog post? To ensure consistency, establish a content or editorial team and think of them as your word wizards. They’ll reinforce the house style guide and will have final say on what’s allowed to be included – no editing by committee here!
Good web content is also empathetic – which means it needs to care about who’s reading it. Many businesses fall by the wayside when it comes to actually being nice in their written communication. Don’t be one of them. Even if you are a big, grunty business, you can still have a warm, clear voice that helps readers navigate effortlessly through your website to find what they’re looking for. Yes, you may write in long form in your formal communications, but when it comes to web copy you need to scale back. Long-winded sentences and over-the-top formality can get in the way of your message. Think about your reader and put yourself in their shoes. They may be reading on a small screen on their morning commute or they may be time-poor and exhibiting what we refer to as ‘natural scanning reading behaviour’ – seen both in the wild and in captivity. Use a series of headers so your readers can locate themselves and summarise your key messages.
A great example of good web content is publishing empire, Conde Nast. Considering the exceptional repertoire of their titles and publications, users are really encouraged to act and seek out more. They don’t over sell anything, keeping content accessible – relevant and purposeful. They never write more than they need to in order to get their message across. Even better – is they find a way to create their own tone of voice when discussing their very distinct brands, which include Glamour, WIRED and of course, Vogue. They format their content to make it easy for readers to find their interests while maintaining their professionalism as the corporate face of these brands.
The limitless options and ‘space’ to write web content can often translate to overwriting. Remember, quality over quantity, be purposeful – if done well, good content can earn you the trust and engagement you need.