Do you have a website? Is it effective?

In Writing for the Web Crawford Kilian wrote, “…it’s in your own interest to understand something about website design basics, especially as they affect the display of your text.” In this book, Kilian goes on to explain that web writing has the power to make or break the effectiveness of your site. Have you noticed some sites are more effective?

With Kilian’s words in mind, this newsletter and upcoming issues will review web page writing to help you determine the effectiveness of your present or future site.

Understanding the uniqueness of the web helps us recognize how to make this marketing tool effective. The web is unique because of the following:
- text on the screen
- web visitors.

Web Text is Unique

Imagine! You are browsing the web. Reading a web page takes longer than a printed copy, you jump from page to page or site to site, and your eyes blur. Why?

The answer is in the screen. Web text is harder to read because of the imprecise screen resolution and resulting text. We usually read a computer screen about 25% slower than a hard copy. If the narrative is long or hard to read, the eyes tire and the temptation to move on is great.

Web developers suffer from the same slow reading and tired eyes, which is why there are often typos and grammatical errors on websites. The person who builds your website is not always a writer and may be unfamiliar with effective web writing structures. Skillful web writers know the tricks, or shall I say, the craft.

Web Visitors are Unique

As web visitors, we search differently than we would in a brick and mortar library.
On the web, we prefer to:
- jump rather than scroll
- skim, scan and select
- browse
- read small amounts at a time.

At a given time, I can be any of these visitors. Do you have a preference? According to Mount Royal University’s Web Content Instructor, Murray Nicholson, 79% of users scan (surf) rather than reading thoroughly.

Depending on our intention as website visitors, we behave differently on the Net. What is your approach?
- Surfers are browsers who skim the surface of web offerings.
- Committed users are hunters, serious researchers, looking for concise well-organized sites.
- Readers like to scroll and read complete pages.
- Viewers and listeners prefer graphics and sound.
- Participators are fond of commenting on what they find.

If it is true that most of us hop around, it is also true that website owners want visitors to stay. Those of us selling services or products want to convert visitors to sales. Our audiences are fickle however. Knowing this, we can construct pages to make reading easier, hold interest, entice visitors to stay, and even persuade them to purchase.
If awareness for general visitors is important, knowing your target audience is crucial. Before writing takes place, maneuver into a client’s mindset. You want to lay out the words and sentences to meet your audience’s needs.

Your website has a purpose. Many elements go into making it an effective marketing tool. Understanding how text on the screen and behavior of visitors directly and indirectly affect its performance can help your site succeed.

Follow-up Article: “Easy Web Pages Writing II"

Author's Bio: 

Bernice McLaren, writer, teacher, artist, mother and grandmother is dedicated to helping others with writing and graphics.

With two degrees, 30 years experience, a passion for helping others, and interest in business, Articulate Professional Writers and Last Word Eulogies came into being.

Presently on Articulate Professional Writers, Bernice helps others with personal and professional writing. To request eulogy help please visit