Writing for the web

Here are some guidelines to help you write web pages on your microsite. They are only guidelines, so can be broken. But the more you keep to them, the more effective your microsite will be.

Keep content short and direct. Padding and waffle will annoy your readers. Cut out any words you can without compromising your message. Try to stick to these numbers:

  • Headings should be 4 to 8 words
  • Sentences should be 15 to 20 words

Keep your paragraphs short, grouping together ideas in one theme. Your sentences should cover just one idea, which should help reduce the length.

Get straight to the point. Mention the key point you want to get across in the heading or first sentence. Think like your reader. Do you have time to search for key information on your web page? If important information is buried down in the third paragraph, the chances are it’ll be missed.

The number one question that web users ask is ‘what’s in it for me?’ Try to answer this for the web user as quickly as you can. This is especially important if you’re trying to persuade the user to do something like book onto an event.

Think like your reader. Try to understand their:

  • likes and dislikes
  • needs
  • concerns
  • priorities

Humanise the content and make it personal. Add the human touch to your microsite by:

  • increasing references to people (‘Over 2,000 people came along to the event’)
  • talking about the human experience
  • including real-life quotes
  • using personal pronouns where possible (you, we, our)
  • using case studies

De-clutter the content. Symbols don’t look great on web pages. So try to remove:

  • unnecessary capital letters (acronyms, abbreviations)
  • signs and symbols, such as &, #, %
  • brackets
  • punctuation that isn’t needed

Make keywords bold. Draw the reader to keywords and phrases by emboldening them. Careful not to go over the top with this, though, or you’ll lose the impact.

Include a strong call to action. As with a Committee Mailer message, direct the reader to carry out a specific action after reading your content. Make it clear what the ‘next step’ is. This call to action could be a button or a hyperlink to find out more information or to supply an email address to get onto a mailing list.

[v1 - November 2017]