Writing for the Web

The first priority for all web sites is to develop accurate and useful content for site visitors – not for search engines.  It is quality content that drives our online reputation and ultimately builds engagement and customer loyalty. The Ultimate Goal: Content should be original and unique in order to provide value to our users. The following tips will help ensure consistency throughout the website to enhance the user experience.

Quality & Timeless Content

Avoid content that may become easily outdated. The names of individual staff members change frequently. Job titles and generic mailbox addresses (e.g. help@msu.edu) should be used instead of referencing an individual’s name when in content outside the staff directory. Timely information that will expire soon may have a better home in social media than on the website.

Length & Scannability

Remember that less is more when writing for the web. The goal should be to produce content that is easy to read with concise sentences. Information should be developed to generate customer interest and to illustrate the organization’s credibility. Write so customers can quickly find the information they need by leveraging bullet points, bold text, headers, and short paragraphs.

Tone

Use a professional tone when writing for your organization. Websites are expected to be the digital storefront of an organization. We are responsible for protecting the online brand and representing the organization in a professional way. Informal and lighthearted language is better suited for social media platforms.

Grammar and spelling on the page

Because the content appears on the web immediately, it is important to make sure that there are no issues with spelling or grammar. Have a colleague read through your text before posting it.

Get to the Point

Customers visit websites because they want to complete an action – typically to buy something. Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to find the hard details about your products and services. Skip the heavy text and market’ese and make it easier for visitors to find the information they need. As an example, a university’s housing website should include text and photographic details of:

  • Facilities List
  • Room Types
  • Addresses
  • Prices
  • Amenities List
  • Steps to sign-up/book housing

These basic tactics will help increase web usability and better the user experience.

Handout: Writing for the web graphic that contains an abbreviated version of the article

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Digital Marketing Professional with a knack for branding.

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