You have a site, and you want people to come and visit, maybe even stay a while. Why should they? What can you offer the visitor that s/he can’t find elsewhere? This is what you have to figure out for the first half of the semester. What compelling experience can you offer?
- a series of articles on a subject you care passionately about
- a gallery of your best and most recent work
So how do your start?
- Identify who will visit your site, then list the information or tools each chunk of visitors would find most useful and interesting. Profile your visitors as much as possible and try to identify what they really need each time they visit your site. Make a list of the content you need so you can be organized when you get to creating it.
- Check out your competitors, or at least other sites doing what you plan to do. What content do they offer that you don’t? Identify it and figure out how to include it on your site.
- Miscellaneous ideas: Is there anything else you may want and haven’t already thought of? Browse other sites, award winners, and even sites of a completely different nature for possible inspiration.
- Once you have your list, prioritize the ideas well. What do you need right away? What can wait awhile? Remember you can launch content over time, it doesn’t have to happen all at once.
How should you actually write the content?
Writing for the web is different from writing for newspapers or print. People are in a hurry, and they scan material. They don’t read much at all.
- Use shorter sentences, words and paragraphs than you would use if writing for print.
- Develop one idea in each paragraph of your copy.
- Create compact and brief text.
- Incorporate numbered or bulleted lists when necessary.
- Employ descriptive and brief headlines and subheadings. This not only helps with legibility, but helps with search engine optimization. Cute or promotional lines in your text mean that your visitors will have more to read and will find it harder to understand your content.
- Put the most important information at the top of your webpage.
- Make it simple to comprehend and avoid boring, hard to digest dialogues.
- Try to combat reader fatigue by using an easy to read font size and style.
- Present each idea in an easy to absorb bite-size chunk. Use short sentences, short paragraphs and present only one idea per paragraph.
- Avoid information overload.