12 tips on writing for the web

We know from research about how users read on the web that they don’t ‘read’ – they scan, so web pages should be written to support this:

  1. Know your audience and what their goals are.
  2. Structure the content in the inverted pyramid style, starting with your main point.
  3. Chunk-up the content: one idea per paragraph, with meaningful sub-headings.
  4. Use ‘front-loading’: put the information-carrying words at the beginning of the sentence.
  5. Emphasise the keywords.
  6. Make sure links contain keywords.
  7. Use lists instead of paragraphs where possible.
  8. Write numbers as numerals, not words (people scan for facts, and numbers usually represent hard facts).
  9. Use plain English.
  10. Keep the word count to a minimum.
  11. Cut down unnecessary politeness.
  12. Spell out dates to avoid confusion (‘3 April 2009’, not ‘3/4/2009’)