This post about writing made me think about the common characteristics of great Web copy. Keep in mind there are always exceptions to the rule. But the most common mistake people make is they write for online platforms in the same way they write for printed platforms. This is not always the best strategy.
Here are common characteristics of Web copy that is most likely to be read:
- Shorter sentences. Coordinating Conjunctions may have made your middle school English teacher proud. But you’re better off breaking a compound sentence into two simple sentences.
- Shorter paragraphs. Limit the length of your paragraphs to 2-4 sentences.
- Plain headlines. Don’t be cute or clever. People are scanning. They aren’t going to stop to figure out what you meant. If it’s not immediately helpful and self-explanatory, they will most likely move on.
- Bullets, numbers, etc. when appropriate. This helps move the reader through your copy.
- Action. Show an unwavering favoritism toward verbs. People are often searching online to solve a problem (e.g. answer a question, learn how to do something, etc.). Only a small percentage of people are searching the depths of the Web for the intrinsic value of learning.
- Stick with one key idea. Remember those thesis statements from college? Well, it turns out they actually do have a practical function. Every piece you write online should address, accomplish, be directed at one thing. If you stick with one big idea, you’re much more likely to produce something that will be read.
What advice would you give to improve Web copy?
Ben Stroup is a content activist in a post-paragraph world. He is chief broker of opportunity at Ben Stroup Enterprises. Connect with Ben via email, Twitter, and Google+. Subscribe via email to learn how to use content to move people to action.