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Making your site's content Web-friendly: writing for the Web

Writing for the Web differs from other forms of writing; with the closest resemblance being the writing style used for brochures. One of the keys to a successful site is to have quality, well-written content.

Below we summarise some of the most important points to keep in mind when writing content for your website. You can use the points as a guide as you create and update your site, with the goal of creating an even better experience for your website's visitors, and in turn, helping to increase your site's popularity. By writing good Web-content, your site might even be looked at more favourably by search engines.

Observe the "3 second rule"

People make an initial assessment of a site in as little as 3 seconds after arriving. It is therefore vital that you capture the attention of new visitors to your site immediately. On the Web there may be hundreds, if not thousands of websites similar to yours. Since there is so much choice, visitors will leave your site and go somewhere else if they can't find the information they are looking for quickly.

Capture peoples' interest

Capture peoples' interest regardless of which page they enter your site on. Your website has many entry points. Visitors will not necessarily arrive on your site via its home page, especially if they found your site using a search engine.

Use headings effectively

Ideal headings are a maximum of 7 words in length. Be descriptive. Descriptive headings are one of the best ways of gaining peoples' attention.

Write concise content

Sentences should be no longer than 20 words. Eighty percent of online users will only skim a webpage. Reading text on screen takes approximately 25% longer than reading text offline. Visitors should be able to understand the purpose of each webpage from the first sentence.

Keep content on each page concise and self-contained. People navigate through a site's webpages in any order. Keep its content simple and to the point. Place any important background information on another page and link to it.

Invite visitors through your site

Encourage people to continue exploring your site. Place links to other relevant pages in your text, but keep them to a minimum. If necessary, add a 'Related links' list to the bottom of each page.

Push visitors towards taking a key action

Identify a key action that you want people on your site to take, and then lead visitors towards taking that action. Each type of website has a purpose. Information sites, for example, want visitors to click ads; shopping sites want visitors to make a purchase.

Use margins effectively

Separate your content from either one or both sides of the Web browser window using margins. In the past, websites could be designed so that their content filled 100% of the Web browser window. Today, the width of computer screens has grown so much that Web authors need to adapt their sites appropriately. Without margins, text on your site will expand across the entire screen on wide monitors.

Limit the size of your page

The first sentence of a paragraph should contain the most important content. Structure your webpages so that all content fits onto an average screen size. Most Web users prefer reading websites without the need to scroll.

Add white space

Add space between paragraphs and around graphics to help make your website look uncluttered.

Incorporate quality graphics

Enhance the look of a site using quality graphics. If used well, they can help reduce the need for text. You can read about sourcing images for your website on the site at the following location:

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