Writing for an online audience isn’t the same as writing for print publications. Yes, good grammar and spelling help ensure your content makes sense! However, because people read online content differently than print, many other traditional rules of writing are meant to be broken online. Here’s how to make sure your content is super-readable to stop your visitors from clicking away:
People tend to scan online texts rather than focusing their full concentration on each word. You can make this easier for your readers by breaking down your content into shorter paragraphs. When you keep your paragraphs short, your readers will be able to pay better attention to what you have written and will easily be able to move from section to section to find what most interests them instead of being overwhelmed by giant blocks of text.
Subheadings and Bullets
Subheadings and bullet points take this another step forward to present your information in a way that’s easier to follow and digest on a screen. Subheadings illustrate the logical flow of your writing, while bullet points provide key information in a clear, quickly graspable manner.
Because people are likely to be scanning text online rather than reading word for word, they probably won’t be creating “word pictures” in their head as they go, no matter how great your literary skills might be. Supportive imagery can help your audience “visualize” your meaning better, as well as convey more non-verbal attributes like tone, emotion, and personality, which will increase the value and satisfaction they get from your text and foster a more personal bond with you.
Hospitality and Real-Life Applications
Communication works best when presented how the reader is expecting to receive it. Keep in mind the time and place and frame of mind your audience is likely to be accessing your content in, and speak in light of their situation rather than just focusing on your own thoughts or data points. If people just wanted information, they could get a good deal of it for free at their local library, so if they’re looking online instead then chances are good they’re looking for some degree of personal connection, too. You have a chance to really stand out by giving it to them, plus your content becomes even more meaningful when tied to real-life applications instead of just stated as principles or theory.
Remember, it takes time and practice to improve any skill, and writing online is no different — especially if you’re used to the rules of offline writing! Most readers, however, are appreciative of writers valuing them enough to want to better their communication in the first place, and are more likely to be supportive of your attempts rather than demanding perfection. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there as you learn and grow. Experience and feedback still remain the best teachers in the long run.