It is important to target your audience when writing within an online environment. By knowing whom you are writing for, you can write at a level that will be meaningful for them. Students will visit your content with a task in mind, you need to write and structure your writing in a way that will facilitate the activity.
- Use the words your users use.
By using keywords that your users use, you will help them understand the copy and will help optimize it for search engines.
- Break down your content.
Chunking makes your content more scannable by breaking it into manageable sections.
- Front-load the important information.
Use the journalism model of the “inverted pyramid.” Start with the content that is most important to your audience, and then provide additional details.
- Use pronouns.
The user is “you.” The organisation is “we.” This creates cleaner sentence structure and more approachable content.
- Use active voice.
“The group made the decision” not “The decision was made by the group.”
- Use short sentences and paragraphs.
The ideal standard is no more than 20 words per sentence, five sentences per paragraph. Use dashes instead of semi-colons or, better yet, break the sentence into two. It is ok to start a sentence with “and,” “but,” or “or” if it makes things clear and brief.
- Use bullets and numbered lists.
Don’t limit yourself to using this for long lists—one sentence and two bullets is easier to read than three sentences.
- Use clear headings and subheadings.
Questions, especially those with pronouns, are particularly effective.
- Use images, diagrams, or multimedia to visually represent ideas in the content.
Videos and images should reinforce the text on your page.
- Use white space.
Using white space allows you to reduce noise by visually separate information.
[Information edited and compiled by Elena Hernandez-Martin)
Writing for the web. Available at: http://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/writing-for-the-web.html (available 21.08.23)
The elements of Style: http://faculty.washington.edu/heagerty/Courses/b572/public/StrunkWhite.pdf (available 21.08.23)
Krug S (2006). Don’t make me think! A common sense approach to Web Usability. 2nd Edition. New Riders, Bekerley. CA.