Write effectively for the web. Creating content for the web is very different from copy writing or developing imagery for corporate print materials.
Web audiences typically scan through content and find it uncomfortable to read long documents on-screen. Reading text online takes 25% longer than reading text on paper. Online text should be roughly 50% shorter than the amount written for print materials. Try to keep the text content on each page of your site to 2,000 words or less.
The cost of hiring a professional copywriter to help with content writing and editing is typically small relative to the cost of development for a project, and is well worth the investment.
Write for scannability
Web audiences tend to scan rather than read word by word. Use two or three levels of headings. Make them meaningful, consistent in style, and preferably action-oriented. For the body of the content itself, use plain, concise language and place the most important information at the top of the page, adding additional detail lower down.
Create meaningful page titles
Page titles are often used in search engines and directories as the main reference and information source for a page. They are also used in browser bookmarks. Make these titles meaningful. Keep them to 40-60 characters, and write them so that they can be easily scanned. It's more important to be concise and informative than grammatically correct.
Use language your customers understand
Stay away from obscure abbreviations, technical jargon or internal marketing terms unfamiliar to your customers. Use plain English that's easy to understand.
Make headlines short and descriptive
Headlines often serve double duty as link text on other pages. Make the first word informative, and, if possible, distinctive, so lists of links to similar content can be scanned and understood easily. Make your headlines short (about four words), descriptive, and closely related to the content. Avoid "teasers" and humorous headlines which are easily misinterpreted on the web. These can be misleading and take users to content that isn't useful.
Jakob Nielsen UseIt articles
- "Microcontent: How to Write Headlines, Page Titles, and Subject Lines"
- "Be Succinct! (How to Write for the Web)"
- "Inverted Pyramids in Cyberspace"