Writing for the web

Aims and objectives

This module will:

  • explain how to write for online audiences
  • explore different ways to produce online content

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • write effectively for online platforms
  • implement techniques to make online content accessible to all
  • select appropriate online platforms to publish web content

1. Your audience

It is important to consider the way people read online when you are writing for webpages, blogs and other online platforms. When you create web content, use techniques to make it easier for your audience to find, read and understand your information. Users will stay on your page if it clearly displays the main points, is concise and well structured and is relevant to their interests.

Online user behaviour

Think about how you read a webpage compared to reading a print book. Do you:

  • scan quickly to find what you are most interested in?
  • find it harder to stay focused on the entire text? 

The reading brain in the digital age: The science of paper versus screens discusses reasons why reading online can be more difficult than reading print text.

Scanning

People tend to scan online text rather than reading every word carefully. The eye-tracking research shows that online users often scan the first sentences across the top, then down the side, to decide if your content is useful. They will leave your webpage quickly, if it is too wordy or too hard to find the important points. However, if you use descriptive headings and subheadings it allows users to use a more efficient scanning pattern to find the information they need.

 User experience tutorial: How people read on the Web (YouTube, 3m3s) explains how users scan webpages. 

UQ students and staff have access to LinkedIn Learning with their UQ login.

Understand your audience

There are many different reasons people write for the web e.g. to explain how to do something, to demonstrate knowledge or to share an interest. Regardless of the topic, you need to understand your audience. Consider:

  • why they will go to your page  — to get quick answers to questions or to learn about a topic?
  • what they need to know — what are the important points? Do they need background information and details?
  • what they already know — don't repeat information that your audience already knows
  • what vocabulary they use — use the same terminology so your audience can find your content when they do a search.

Remember that your audience won't stay long on your page if they don't find something useful or interesting to them quickly.

Duration:   Approximately 20 minutes


Graduate attributes

Knowledge and skills you can gain to contribute to your Graduate attributes:

Effective communication Effective communication

 Independence and creativity

 Ethical and social understanding


Check your knowledge

Check what you know about this topic:

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