Writing for the web

Writing for the web is very different from other types of writing – Capture dooglemainly because online readers access information differently.

According to research:

  • Almost 80% of users scan the page instead of reading word for word
  • Reading from computer screens is about 25% slower than reading from paper
  • Web content should have 50% of the word count of its paper equivalent.

During this highly practical course, an experienced writer and editor will show participants how to apply this research to create web content that is clear, concise, well-structured and user-friendly.

Using authentic situations / material from their site, participants will gain the confidence and skills to write and edit effectively – and to deliver information successfully to the target audiences.

On successful completion of this course, participants will:

  • Feel confident they can write and edit effectively for their website
  • Understand the issues involved in making online writing accessible to all readers
  • Be able to achieve level 2.0 in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the international standard supported by the National Disability Authority
  • Understand how users ‘read’ websites
  • Know how to achieve a reader-focused style and structure
  • Be able to explain information quickly, clearly and concisely
  • Understand how to adapt hard copy for the web
  • Recognise common errors of punctuation and use of English
  • Receive  a comprehensive resource pack with useful online links

Course content

Part 1 – Overview

  • Identify best practice in online content (i.e. plain English)
  • How users read websites (F-shape, scan etc.)
  • Benefits of a style guide for web writers
  • How to achieve accessibility (with checklist)

Part 2 – Plan and write effective web content

  • Identify your target audience and define your purpose
    • Identify your target readership (age, expertise, interests, literacy etc.)
    • Write from the users’ point of view
    • Use an objectives template
    • Write an effective brief for writers and editors
    • Create a detailed outline, assessing content and structure
    • Plan to meet users’ needs and expectations
  • Ensure content is in a logical order and easy to scan
    • Structure content so users feel confident they are in the right place
    • Encourage users to scan and then to read, share, save etc.
    • Write effective headings and sub-headings (key words and trigger words)
    • Using lists, charts, images, links, anchor links, accordions
  • Help users to navigate and find what they need
    • How to adapt hard copy for the web
    • Consider how users click: 3-click rule and no mystery clicking
    • How to funnel users so they get what they need quickly and easily
    • Use links effectively for different types of users (including accessibility issues)
    • Using ALT tags for images
    • Write to help users to find you (via a search engine)
  • Write in plain English for a wide audience
    • Consider tone of voice: view web content as a conversation
    • Get the style and tone of voice right – for your target audiences
    • Use everyday professional English (and address readers directly)
    • Cut dead wood, repetition, padding and wordiness
    • Display content in easy-to-read chunks that are easy to scan/read
    • Keep sentences and paragraphs clear and strong (prefer active voice)
    • How to deal with jargon, technical terms and complex information
    • Assess readability with the Flesch Reading Ease Scale (in MS Word)

Part 3 –  Edit: Polishing the content

  • Review to ensure each section fulfills its purpose (e.g. informs users, answers their questions)
  • Editing strategies
  • Assess it checklist
  • Checklist: common errors of grammar, punctuation etc.
  • Identify commonly confused words

Before the course 

  • We ask participants to complete an online pre-course questionnaire about objectives, writing experience and issues they would like to cover.
  • We ask participants to send samples of web content they have written recently. They will be used in an individual editing exercise during the final part of the course (as a tool to measure progress and skills).

Choose a full-day or a half-day course?
This is the outline for a one-day course. In a half-day session, many of the topics above are covered, but in less detail. There is less time for discussing the issues facing web writers, for assessing website content and for completing practical exercises.

A major benefit of a one-day in-house course is that participants can begin to work together as a web team. It gives them the time and opportunity to share issues, agree styles and decided on the best approach to writing and reviewing their website.

Download course outlines

Writing for the Web_one-day outline_Plain English Ireland

Writing for the Web_half-day outline_Plain English Ireland