Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Keep Your Writing Readable On The Web

By Jamie Holaday
Considering people's ever-shortening attention spans and given the shocking lack of grammar taught in public schools, it's important to keep your writing straightforward to keep your readers on track. I didn't do such a great job in that first sentence. We'll have to see if I can reign in my verbose tendencies.

This item post is really to provide some top tips for writing for the Web. There are a few quirks when writing for the Web that are important to keep in mind.
  • Consider your audience. You have people of all backgrounds and experiences surfing as equals. To accommodate this wide-spread audience, you're going to want to write at about a ninth grade reading level or less. Newspapers generally follow this principle. They want their work to be as accessible as possible and so should you.
  • Think about attention span. (again) As we continue on in our sound-byte driven, media overload world, people's attention spans seem to shrink at a rate equivalent to the speed with which new toys for them to play with are developed. Not to be cynical or anything. What I'm trying to say is that you need to get to your point quickly. If you don't capture attention quickly, your reader might surf on.
  • Think about the mechanics of reading on screen. Depending on the machine a person is using, the screen size and thus the amount of text seen can vary widely. This is one of the reasons that long Faulkner-esque paragraphs don't work well. Also, it's really hard to follow visually as you scroll. Keep paragraphs shorter with a decent amount of space in between them.


Jamie Holaday is the internal communications coordinator at Blackbaud. Her email is Jamie.holaday@blackbaud.com


This article is from NPT TechnoBuzz, a publication of The NonProfit Times. Subscribe to NPT TechnoBuzz or any of our other enewsletters and get the latest nonprofit news and stories delivered to your inbox.

No comments: