Tips for Web Content
- Visitors are Users not Readers. Less is more when it comes to writing for the Web.
- Consider your Audiences (prospective students/parents, current students/faculty/staff/parents, alumni and the world)
- Each audience has different needs and expectations.
- Always consider that visitors do not understand the purpose of your site when they first arrive, whether you are representing an Administrative Office, Academic Department or Special Program.
- Put yourself in their shoes as your organize/produce content.
- No matter what – visitors want answers quickly, but likely will not read long prose (particularly younger visitors) unless you can get them interested.
- Do not make primary pages long (ie homepages or sub-homepages) - visitors skim and if they are interested will read more.
- Consider the “inverted pyramid” style of writing. Place the most important information at the top of the page. The visitor may never get to the bottom of the page.
- Carefully consider how you present years in your content archives. Primary "real estate" that references 2007 or later makes content appear out of date across the entire site.
- Whitespace - to create whitespace you may notice that hitting the Enter button on your keyboard repeatedly looks like it'll make space in "Edit" mode, but after you submit the page looks unchanged in "View" mode. This is because the Enter button creates new paragraphs and when you submit pages the content is cleaned of most formatting including empty paragraphs. Instead try using Enter+Shift to create line breaks.
- Don't underline text - visitors usually consider underlined text to be a link
- Don't center align text - it's difficult to read
- Use Heading 1 for the content header of the page - it draws attention to visitors and consistency makes it easier for perusing content
- Use Heading 2 and Heading 3 to divide content sections on the same page - it helps visitors who skim content for the information they need
- Don't put up "Under Construction" on pages that are missing content.
- Don't display URL's or emails in content
Good content is...
- Easy to skim
- Specific but informative
Adapted from contributions from "Writing for the Web" by Valarie Wolff - University Editor for The University of Scranton