General advice

Remember writing for the web is not the same as writing an article for publication.

A good web page has three components:

  1. Everything a visitor wants
  2. Nothing that a visitor doesn't want
  3. Links to everything a visitor might want next

Think of your audience

  • Remember that you are writing content for visitors from different audiences, with different levels of knowledge and understanding.
  • You can cater for specific audiences by providing dedicated, clearly labelled pages for particular groups e.g. staff or students, but think about:
    • the more generally accessible pages that your audience may pass through to get there.
    • what your other audiences might do if they arrive there by accident.
  • Think of the tasks your visitors will want to complete when visiting your site and help them to do so.
  • Use consistent language and names to avoid confusing your audience. 
  • use words/phrases that you think your audience might type in a search engine. 

Make it easy for your audience

Use headings and bullet point lists that help readers skim your web pages, see Using built-in styles.

  • Every web page has to be relatively self contained. People do not read all of a site, do not read web pages in a given order and can arrive at any page from an external link or a search engine.
  • A good web page is about one to two screens long. Small amounts of information can be grouped together under headings. Large amounts of information can be chunked up on separate pages and linked together.
  • Most people don't want to read a web page from top to bottom. Use headings and subheadings so that visitors can easily scan for the bit of the page that they want.
  • Anticipate your user's next question and try to help them.
  • Think about the navigation from your pages for those arriving from a search result.
  • Provide links to related information for those who want to know more.

Capture your visitors

  • Keep their attention by providing the most important information first. Don't waste words with unnecessary introductions

  • Make your content look good using headings and styles to help capture and engage your audience.  Add a relevant image or an invisible table to improve the look and layout of a web page.

Keep your content brief

  • Use clear and concise language that is easy to understand and is appropriate for your audience.
  • Remove unnecessary words.
  • Do not use a long word if there is a short one you can use instead.
  • Keep sentences short, between 15 and 20 words, to make them easier to read.
  • Keep your paragraphs short and use new paragraphs to introduce new topics.  

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