Effective Writing for the Web (4): Keep it Simple

Who is reading?

It’s interesting to think about who might be reading the content we write for the web. It might be friends and family, or complete strangers, personal or business contacts.

In User Interface Design (UX Design), UX designers use personas to help them picture their users to make it easier for them to keep their users in mind while designing. You can use personas for writing as well. You may have a few different personas, each representing a group of your typical users, or readers. I’ll talk about personas and how to develop them in a future post.personas

At this stage I want to highlight that many of your readers may not use English as their first language; they may have different levels of education and varied levels of knowledge about your topics. You want to reach as many of them as you can and one of the best ways to do this is by keeping it simple.

A few guidelines

  • Write your content as though you’re having a conversation with your reader, maybe in a coffee shop or a bar. Picture them standing next to you.
  • Avoid using jargon. A lot of people don’t understand it, and you don’t want them leaving your page every sentence to look up a dictionary.
  • Use short sentences, and short paragraphs. Use short words.
  • Follow Plain English guidelines.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll also make it easy for people to skim read your content.

Of course, you may want to provide more comprehensive content on occasion. This is often best provided as a downloadable document so people can choose to look at the full information if they are interested.

Remember; make it easy for your reader to understand the important information and to know what they need to do next and you’ll be well on your way to effective web writing.


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