Get to the point
Have you ever looked up a recipe and scrolled past 4 paragraphs about the history of the region the dish came from before you got to the actual recipe? Did you enjoy the experience or were you frustrated by the wasted time and effort? Most of the time, users will appreciate an inverted pyramid writing style. This format has been successfully used by journalists for decades; start with the key takeaway, and then work backwards to give the most important supporting information first, followed by less important background information, and finally ending with tangentially related information that readers may find interesting.
Understand how people consume content
People visit a website to get information, they’re not looking for an amazing literary work that rivals Harry Potter, they want to get the facts and move on. A helpful way to approach it is to think of readers as “information grazers”. They will scan pages quickly and look for words that jump out at them. This scanning often follows an F-Pattern, with users starting in the top left, reading across the top of the content, moving down a little and scanning right again, but this time more quickly and not as far over. From here, the typical user will move quickly down the rest of the page as they forage for information.
Break things up
To help combat the F-Pattern and improve scanability, don’t present users with big blocks of text. Segment your content up into bite-sized chunks by using headings, bulleted and numbered lists, and highlight keywords using bold or by linking them to related pages with more information.
Speak their language
✖ Don’t use technical jargon that people won’t understand
✖ Don’t write for search engines by jamming content with so many keywords that the language becomes unnatural
✖ Don’t use fluffy and meaningless marketing terms like “world class” or “top rated”
✔ Do use keywords that your readers will be looking for, remember that people skim so consider bolding these keywords or using them as subheadings.
Write about things people care about
Always ask yourself “who is reading this and what are they getting from it?”If you don’t have a good answer to that question, you’re probably writing content for the sake of content, which is a waste of everyone’s time; your own and your users’. When planning content, it’s easy to lose sight of the end user. You want to keep all the internal stakeholders happy and make sure every department is covered. You want to cover all the items on your marketing checklist. Or maybe you feel you need to fill space because one page is shorter than all the others. While it’s certainly important to balance everyone’s desires, at the end of the day you should put the user at the center of your process.