A good book is not what we usually consider while we are online. If I am going to read a book, I want to hold it in my hands and smell the pages while curled up on the couch under a blanket on a cold day. Am I right? Thats part of the adventure of a book, well it is for me anyway. Let’s get real though. When we are online searching and skimming articles and general information, its time to work, focus and find what we are looking for and to do it quickly. It is not often, a relaxing leisure activity, even when it is. This is just one difference in the way we perceive print from web content.
The amount of actual words that a user reads is minimal. Therefore, when writing for the web, the content and information must be obvious and scannable. Users are described as “action oriented” in this article Nielsen Norman Group. Meaning they are on a mission. If we keep this in mind first and foremost it makes the user’s experience less frustrating. In other words, don’t write a book.
Be specific, be consistent and remember who your audience is. Talk to them. You can use both active and passive voice when appropriate to context. Users don’t care about your English grammar degree when they are seeking out the answers to their question. Keep it short and simple. One way to do this is to break up lengthy paragraphs or create bulleted key points.
Writing on the web unlike print, will appear in multiple locations, which will be a benefit to you, your brand or product if your writing appeals to the intended audience.