Book Extract: Skim, Scan, Scroll –A Quick Guide to Web Writing
Book Extract: Skim, Scan, Scroll –A Quick Guide to Web Writing ISBN: 9788178061450
Author: Jyutsna Atre
Publisher: Unicorn Books (www.pustakmahal.com)
What is so different about writing for the web, you might want to ask. After all, almost all of us have done some kind of writing.
And how different can writing school essays, or business letters, or newspaper articles, or a journal be from writing for a website? Doesn’t writing involve…well…just writing? Yes and no.
Writing is an art that is inborn. Take the school essay for instance. As we struggle to string our ideas on a piece of paper and hope for a passable six on ten, in our hearts of hearts, we know that the world is divided into two categories of people—those that can write and those that cannot. And if you belong to the fi rst category, you know that there is more to your writing than just content. Form is just as important.
Ask any talented writer and they will tell you that in this era of mass media, we need to be aware of the demands of the medium that we are writing for, be it the print, the screen or the web.
Ironically, although both print and web media involve publishing the written word for reading unlike the television, writing for the web is quite, quite different from writing for print. That’s because just like the print medium, the World Wide Web too has its share of strengths and weaknesses. Where’s the Time? The biggest weakness of the virtual medium is that its readers just don’t have the time.
No one is logging into their accounts to read through a thousand words of skilfully crafted introduction (the way I am doing right now) and a body of argument that takes up 30-odd pages, before they fi nally get to read the climax of your story.
Try this typical ‘print’ method of writing on the web, and chances are that your reader will have clicked away to another web page or worse, jumped away to another website before you can even say your opening lines.
Imagine what that means for the service or the product that you are writing for. Marketing gurus would compare it to committing hara-kiri! After all, the raison d’être of your (or your client’s) website is to get the visitors to read as much as they possibly can, so that they know all that they possibly can, as quickly as they possibly can.Quite clearly, you are playing by a different set of rules here, and facing a diffi cult audience.
Where’s the Space?
That’s right. Unlike the print medium, where the reader gets a book, magazine, newspaper, brochure, or a leafl et that holds all the information together, the web offers you a single screen to work with. And if you thought that all those 1280 x 768 pixels belonged to you…think again! Logos, links, graphics, opinion polls, forms, copyright announcements…there are a thousand things in there jostling for space.
And then there’s your text, in muted shades of grey that must make the point right here right now, else click goes your reader! That means, when a visitor reaches your web page, you must be able to quickly give them the relevant information and persuade them to click on the ‘Next’ button, so you can talk to them some more. And repeat this cycle until they have browsed through your entire website, without getting bored or restless.
Where’s the Motivation?
Often, when a reader picks up a product from the print medium, they are loyal readers of the newspaper or magazine. Or they have heard about a certain author or a book and want to read the story.
There’s a reason why they buy the product. But on the web, visitors usually reach your website accidentally—through search engines, through affi liate programs, or through links that they randomly fi nd and think can yield information.
Very rarely will anyone remember a URL and type it in the address bar to access your website. Since they don’t actively seek you out, the onus to keep them interested and asking for more is on you.
Give them specifi c information that they can use, and they will stay. But upload some profound blah, and no one will have the time or the inclination to read on.
Where’s The Time?
Where’s The Space?
Where’s The Motivation?
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Use A Different Pitch
Who Are You Writing For?
How Are You Going To Say It?
Make It Readable
Repurpose, don’t copy
The problem of plenty
Keep It Simple and Short
Use active voice
Write for an audience of one
Some more tips
Edit, edit, edit – Quick recap
Linked-in Pictures are worth a thousand words
Make It Scannable
The inverted pyramid
Headings are important
What grabs their attention
How to write headlines
Some more tips
Use bulleted or numbered lists
Those Cool, Blue Links
Make links accessible
Write To Be Found
Search Engine Optimisation
Types of Engines
Tips for good search engine rankings
Develop A Style Guide
Tags: Qquick Guide To Web Writi , Website , Target Audience , Sales Pages , Blogs , Jargon , Readable , Hyperlinks , Search Engine , Seo
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