Oh, the Internet. It's a place full of hilarious memes, amazing YouTube videos and really long articles that no one has time to read. Have I lost you yet? No?
Let me introduce myself. My name is Evan Skorepa. I’m a high school senior, and currently an intern at Aztek.
Next year I’ll be studying Interactive and Social Media at DePaul University and I wanted to get some exposure to the web/technology industry before heading off to school in the fall.
Search and Skim
I grew up with the Internet, and it has affected the way I search for and acquire information. I'm used to having hundreds of search results at my fingertips in seconds without having to step foot in a library. Even when I go to the library, I search Google instead of searching a library catalog (@ Google Scholar).
People these days, including me, have extremely short attention spans. Only about 4.4 seconds while reading online. Have you ever noticed how much you skim through information on the Internet? You’re probably skimming this article right now if you haven’t already gone back to Google to search for a shorter article on "how to write for the Web" like the first search result on Google, or these do's and don'ts by Rutgers University.
My challenge this week was to learn some web writing tricks and to share them with you, my fellow web writing newbies.
So before you head off to college, or start a new job, take a minute to learn a few tips that will put you ahead of the crowd when it comes to writing for the web.
Writing for the Web: 7 Tips for Beginners
1.Know Your Audience
You can’t force someone to visit your website or read your blog. That’s why knowing your audience (who they are, what they’re interested in, where they spend time on the Web, etc.) is so important. They also help determine the tone you use in your writing, and the types of information you present. A great way to get to know more about your audience is through the use of personas.
2.The K.I.S.S. Method
Tried and true, keep it simple stupid.
Get to the point. What is the core message you want to tell people? Put yourself in the reader’s shoes, all they want is information. If you wanted to take a literature-induced nap you would have gone to a library...and eventually used Google Scholar.
Avoid using complicated terms that the average reader won’t understand. You should reserve that kind of talk for parties and job interviews to impress people you don’t know.
For a quick way to check if your writing is easy to read, try the free Hemingway app. It highlights sentences that are complex and may confuse your readers.
3.Avoid Clichés (Like the Plague)
People hear these expressions time and time again. Or they might not understand what they mean. So don’t sound like a broken record.
These clichés make your writing sound stale and unoriginal. There’s already enough unoriginal content on the Internet.
4.You Need to Break Up
Paragraphs, that is.
Walls of text can be daunting and can scare the reader away. What’s more appealing, a small book with a binding the size of your forearm, or a larger book with a binding thinner than your finger?
5.Grab the Reader
The faster you can grab the reader’s attention the better. Imagine the reader is your boss and you only have a few seconds to make your proposal appealing, or you get canned.
Don’t waste time on intro paragraphs (like the one in this post) unless the information is VITAL later on. Remember what I said about 4.4 seconds?
6.Make it Scannable
Large text and headings help to distinguish parts of the article for the reader. You’re probably scanning this right now!
The Internet is an interactive place, and you want your readers to interact with your article so they stay interested.
Hyperlinks also help to better explain or cite information. Remember to add links on helpful keywords and avoid using “click here” or “read more.” Those don’t help your reader understand what information they will find.
I hope these tips are helpful and you can use them to become a world-famous web writer (or impress your college professors). Check out some other Aztek blogs for even more ways to become the ultimate Web guru.
What other tips would you want to tell new web writers? Share with us in the comments below.