Simple Tips for Writing Web Copy


The online medium is fundamentally different from other media - especially print. Here are five easy tips to follow when developing web copy or translating print content into web content:

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Create Content that is Easily Scanned

Users do not read content word for word - they scan. The web is an active medium, users are looking for clues that they’ve landed on the correct page and want to find the information they’re searching for quickly.

  • The most important information on the page should come within the first two paragraphs.
  • Paragraphs should contain one to five sentences. Single sentence paragraphs carry impact.
  • Include relevant subheads that start with information-carrying words in the first three words.
  • Meaningful sub-headers are more important than catchy ones.
  • Use bulleted lists whenever applicable to break up content and allow for easier scanning.
  • It's okay to break some grammar rules on the web in the quest for clarity and speed.

On average, users will also leave a site within 11 seconds if they cannot find the information they are looking for by scanning the page.

Web Content is Non‐Linear

  • Users want to create their own experience by pulling together content from multiple sources - it is an active journey with a specific goal in mind. There’s no beginning or end to web content, and no telling where readers will enter the site.
  • Ensure your copy is clear and focused on the user’s needs.
  • Providing ample context and easy-to-scan content will provide your reader with what they are looking for faster.
  • Be creative and compelling with your content headlines.
  • Be sure to optimize your content with important keywords for better search engine results.

Be Concise and Succinct

  • This is the most important tip to follow - and the most difficult. Cut out the fluff and get to the meat of the matter.
  • Your web visitors are on the hunt - give them what they want, quickly.
  • Sentences should be seven to ten words.
  • Limit your page to one to four paragraphs.
  • Use one idea per paragraph, preceded by information-carrying subheads.

If you have additional detailed information, you can include a link to another page or a link to a printable document (such as a datasheet) to improve SEO and usability.

Web Reading is Interactive

  • Provide your visitors with hyperlinks to additional relevant content within your copy.
  • Hyperlinks increase “scan-ability” because they stand out, provide information about what the page is about and explain where to go next.
  • Users generally scan the page in an "F" pattern and then seek links.
  • Links should clearly explain where they will take users - so be descriptive, unique and use your keywords.

Words Aren’t Always the Best Option

The web was designed for multi‐media - try using additional media to support your message like video, interactive tools and infographics.

Provide Calls to Action

Ensure there are Calls to Action within your content. Whether it is to buy, signup or join a community, make sure you have guided your user to a next step.

Shay Ruggles
written by SHAY RUGGLES

Shay Ruggles is the Director of UX at Carbon8 who ensures we are creating compelling experiences that balance user intent, clients’ business needs and site performance. A former Account Manager, Video Producer and Carbon8’s first employee, Shay leveraged her years of experience, education and research to transition to the creative team of Carbon8 in 2012.

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