Users "read" the web differently than print. In fact, they often don't read-- they scan. People rarely read webpages word for word, and generally read through only 28% of the content -- even among highly literate audiences.
WSU may be an academic institution, but your audience is faculty, staff and students who are regular people looking for quick information on the web.
By writing web content that is clear, relevant, error-free and scannable, you increase the likelihood that your audience will understand your message.
Keep Content Relevant
When writing content, ask yourself:
- Do my visitors need to know this?
- Do my visitors want to know this?
- Does this information answer my visitors' questions?
If not, cut it. You need to be brutally honest with yourself about whether the information is really serving your audience's needs. If the content isn't relevant, they aren't probably reading it anyway and could be missing the important points.
Include all relevant information on the page topic. Avoid sending people to multiple pages to get the whole story.
Be Clean, Clear and Engaging
Don't try to put every detail on every page. Each page should have a clear, singular purpose or people will get lost or frustrated and leave.
Don't bore visitors with wordy language and filler information. Instead use common, straightforward language that is easy to read. Avoid jargon, acronyms and wordy language to make sure you meet readability standards.
Use photos and videos to catch visitors' attention and convey information. Use brief, personable writing to get your message across succinctly and leave a powerful, favorable impression.
Leave people with a call to action if possible, such as:
- Sign up for [X]
- Submit [X] form
- Call [123.456.7890] or email [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Use Consistent Style
Here are a few major writing styles to keep in mind.
- Write in the active voice using simple sentences
- Start the webpage with a short intro summary of the content
- Divide large blocks of copy into short 1-3 sentence paragraphs. Paragraphs should not run over 3 lines in mobile view.
- Using sub-headings and bullets when appropriate to make a webpage more skimmable
- Carefully review spelling and grammar. Use Merriam-Webster.com as a standard dictionary.
Communicate with the target audience using accurate, and complete information. Never use "page under construction" or "coming soon" messages.
Limit the use of bolded text to keywords or phrases
For the detailed list of text styles, please review the Web Style Guide.