Writing for the web – it’s about managing readers’ behaviour

Follow Arekibo

By focussing on defining and refining your user personas, the principles of writing for the web will fall neatly into place. Preparing your web content has now become an integral part of everyday marketing activity. And like every marketing communications piece, gaining a solid insight into what your customers think and how they act is your first priority. Only when that is considered are you ready to apply the technical expertise to writing great web content that your readers will engage and connect with.

When you write for print, you are clearly trying to make an impact with your readers. And when you write online content for the same people, you are trying to get through to them in a much different format. In an energy-driven environment where readers scan pages searching for the answers they want, your content has to stand up and offer a helping hand. Your target audience stays the same for print or web – it’s the context they are reading your content in, is what changes.

And this is where your challenge lies. The problem you must solve is how to write for your readers in what is an environment fraught with challenges.

Even the user-persona phase is different. At Arekibo, we believe that user persona development is possibly the most important aspect of any digital marketing task or project. Knowing precisely who you are writing for is a cornerstone of everything you do in digital marketing. That includes everything from web development to content and copy, right through to your entire digital strategy.

Not only must you explore demographics, segmentation and more, you also need to identify what other behaviour your audience will engage in. When building user-personas, you need to ask yourself what behaviour they will demonstrate online. This includes knowing what keywords they use, what makes them share content and more.

Everything you do must accommodate the habits of the online reader…

  • When building product and service pages, you need to give your readers the information they want first and foremost. By applying the inverted pyramid formula, you’ll give your readers the most important info first, followed by the relevant supporting and background details.
  • The words you use must be short and precise and apply the plain English principles – simply because these are the words that allow readers to consume your content at speed.
  • Your paragraphs must be scannable. Similarly, by presenting your information in easy-to-access formats like bullet points or lists, your readers can find the information they need and fast.
  • Headings and subheadings allow people to scan the pages at speed and retain the information they need.
  • The sentences you write also need to be short and concise. Long sentences can be off-putting and difficult to scan and skim.

It’s probable your target reader will not change that much whether online or offline. What does change is how they read and consume your content. By tackling their behaviour directly, you can write engaging, useful content for them that is scannable and shareable.