Web Content, Writing for Web Sites
Writing and preparing content for the Web requires a different approach from writing and preparing content for print documents and publications. In addition, writing copy for the Web that grabs attention and gets the results you want takes special skill and attention, whether you're trying to sell products or services at a business or commercial site or if you just want to let people know the latest at your personal site. The resources below are annotated links to highly authoritative articles, tips and information specific to content writing, development, and preparation for Web sites. You'll also find where writers, editors, content developers, and publishers can find each other.
Do you know of some good articles, tutorials, newsletters, Web sites, books, or other resources related to writing for the Web, Web site content, or related topics? Recommendations are welcome and encouraged!
On this page:
- Articles, Tutorials on Web Content, Writing for the Web
- Web Sites and Web Site Sections on Web Content, Writing for the Web
- Discussion Lists on Web Content, Writing for the Web
- Recommended Books on Web Content, Writing for the Web
Articles, Tutorials on Web Content, Writing for the Web
General Tutorials on Web Content, Writing for Web Sites
The tutorials below cover how visitors read content on the Web and how to write effectively for the Web. See also below for specific topics: Writing 'About Us' Content for the Web and Writing Headlines and Titles for the Web.
- Creating Effective Landing Pages
Topics covered: What is a landing page? A different view on landing pages; Landing pages - the two schools of thought; The basics of developing landing pages; Call to action; Short statements; Length of pages; Ask and answer questions; Logical sequence; White space, headings and colors; Provide a bonus; Use of images; Use of testimonials; Fast load times; PPC driven landing pages; Stuck for ideas? Search engine considerations; Testing your landing pages; Related learning resources. [Article/tutorial by Michael Bloch, Taming The Beast, via WebsiteTips.com's Marketing Articles, Tutorials section.]
- Difference Between Paper and Online Presentation
Nine-part article at Sun Microsystems. Although dated 1999, it's just as valid today. Excellent. [Article dated 09/13/1999, written by Jakob Nielsen, distinguished engineer; PJ Schemenaur, technical editor; and Jonathan Fox, editor-in-chief, www.sun.com.]
- How Little Do Users Read?
Discusses research showing visitors read about 20% of text on a webpage, and at most 28%; scanning text; eye-tracking studies; real-life reading behavior, more. Great insight and points made. [Article/tutorial dated 06/09/2008, by Jakob Nielsen, useit.com.]
- How Users Read on the Web
Jakob Nielsen's insightful article about the unique ways people read on the web versus print. Although dated 1997, it's just as valid today. This is another must read article. [Article dated 10/1997 by Jakob Nielsen, useit.com.]
- Killer Web Content
You can read the first chapter online from Gerry McGovern's latest book on writing great content for Web sites. Topics include:
- Web content finally comes of age
- But the Web is full of filler
- The essence of web success
- Make your content stand out in the crowd
- Focus on the task
- From getting attention to giving attention
- The customer is still king
- Who this book is for
- Sun Microsystems - Writing for the Web
Sun Microsystems' section with numerous articles on writing for the web, developing content, navigation, design, scannability, and more. Important source. [Articles via Sun Microsystems.]
- Treat Online 'Guests' with Respect
Insightful article with 8 helpful tips to keep in mind so that you treat your website visitors with respect. Tips cover spam, approach, style, pop-ups, deceitful ads, moving or flashing content, slow-loading pages, automated sound. “It's time to start thinking of visitors as online guests. It's a simple 'mind shift' that might get companies to better recognize how their websites communicate with those they intend to serve.” [Article/tutorial dated 07/25/2007, by Rick Sloboda, WebCopyPlus!.]
- Writing Style for Print vs. Web
Headlines for the Web vs. print, including the importance of keywords for search engines, narrative vs. actionable content, and more. Great insight and points made. [Article/tutorial dated 06/09/2008, by Jakob Nielsen, useit.com.]
- Writing Web Copy That's Easy to Scan
Terrific insight on how people scan pages at Web sites and how to write great copy that works well for people scanning. Topics:
- Create Visual Hierarchy - color, contrast, size, and relative placement;
- Make it Easy on the Eyes - appropriate fonts for reading on Web sites;
- Intro. Body. Conclusion. Repeat. - the importance of going back to the basics with how to create your article, tutorial, or other content for your Web site;
- Headlines can Build Interest - how to write headlines to gain interest;
- Practice Makes Perfect - the importance of practicing your writing to improve your skills.
- Why Web Users Scan Instead of Read
Jakob Nielsen's sidebar to the above article but warranting a link on its own. Insightful information. [Article dated 10/1997, by Jakob Nielsen, useit.com.]
- Writing for the Web
Must-read articles by Jakob Nielsen. Includes research on how users read on the Web and how authors should write their Web pages. Mainly based on studies by usability experts John Morkes and Jakob Nielsen. [Articles by Jakob Nielsen, useit.com.]
See also WebsiteTips.com's Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Marketing (SEM) Content, Keyword, Keyphrase Optimization and Writing for Search Engines for more articles, tutorials, and helpful tips on Web site content.
Writing 'About Us' Content for the Web
- Guide to Writing Effective “About Us” Web Pages
Helpful pointers and “Action Steps” checklist, such as learning from the pros, checking out top-notch “About Us” pages, learning to write for the Web, tips and tactics, and more. Resources all along the way. [Article/tutorial dated 12/2006, by Judy Artunian, for Work.com.]
- The Power of the About Us Page
Tremendous insight, helpful bullet points about the value of an “About Us” page, what to include and exclude, what to consider, and much more. “Does your site have an About Us page? Do you have one simply because everyone else does? What's the real value of such a page? Do you know how to maximize its value?” [Article/tutorial dated 08/04/2006, by Bryan Eisenberg, for ClickZ.]
Writing Headlines and Titles for the Web
- How to Write a Clever Headline
Discusses how to avoid being too “clever” with headings while also creating meaningful headlines that make sense to readers and convey the depth and meaning and create a connection with the readers. [Article/tutorial dated 04/10/2002, by Nick Usborne, for ClickZ Network.]
- How To Write Great Titles And Headlines For The Web
Excellent article with plenty of tips on how to create truly great titles and headlines for the Web. Includes numerous tips and points about what to consider for your site's headlines, also covering tips for search engine results so people will find what they're looking for with your content easily. [Article/tutorial dated 06/01/2005, updated 06/19/2007, by Robin Good, Robin Good's Latest News.]
- This Headline Is Where the Action Is!
Headlines are “90 percent of the reason anyone will read your ad copy,” and the next in importance is the first sentence. Dunn provides an insightful checklist of tips to help you create great headlines, including headlines for your Web site and for advertising ads. [Article/tutorial dated 02/22/2002, by Declan Dunn, for ClickZ Network.]
- Who Needs Headlines?
Helpful, insightful article with plenty of examples on how to create top-notch, eye-catching headlines for websites. “A lot of web copy is written by copywriters who aren't trained in writing for the web—and much of the rest is written by people who aren't trained writers at all. If you're a designer who can consult intelligently on basic copy improvements, you can gain a substantial business advantage. This article is designed to help you do just that.” [Article/tutorial dated 05/29/2007, by Shaun Crowley, for A List Apart.]
- Why Headline Writing for Web is Important [Article dated 01/12/2005, by Dustin Diaz.]
Web Sites and Web Site Sections on Web Content, Writing for the Web
- ClickZ: Content Development
ClickZ's regular column by Susan Solomon. Quite a few articles online on developing content for your Web site dated through October, 2004. [Articles/tutorials by Susan Solomon for ClickZ.]
Community and news portal for content, content development, content writers, and more. Latest news, resources. Good portal site.
- Copywriting Articles by Heather Lloyd-Martin
Well-respected and highly regarded Web copywriter. Via Heather's Web site, you'll find quite a few of Heather's insightful, helpful articles on writing Web content and top-notch SEO copy. [Articles/tutorials by Heather Lloyd-Martin, SuccessWorks, Inc..]
- Writing Online
Nick Usborne's terrific regular column at ClickZ through March, 2003. See also his excellent book, Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy.
Discussion Lists on Web Content, Writing for the Web
A discussion list for those who write and edit for the online medium. [List provided by Poynter Online]
See also Discussion Lists, Online Forums, and Newsgroups for links to more on Web design and development topics.
Recommended Books on Web Content, Writing for the Web
- Killer Web Content: Make the Sale, Deliver the Service, Build the Brand
By Gerry McGovern. Published by A&C Black (September 2007). This latest book by Gerry McGovern is destined to be another top seller. See also McGovern's Killer Web Content book information section to download a free chapter, read reviews, and learn more about the book.
From the publisher:
'Genius! Gerry McGovern gets it! If you read one book on managing a website, this is it. A must read for any web manager in any organization, large or small, government or private.' -Bev Godwin, director of FirstGov.gov
Written by an internationally acclaimed specialist in this field, Killer Web Content provides the strategies and practical techniques you need to get the very best out of your Web content. The book helps readers to: provide visitors to their website with the right content at the right time, write compelling web content that users respond to and want more of, make sure their website has the best possible chance of getting into the first page of search results, and understand the benefits of blogs, RSS, and e-mail newsletters.
- Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works
by Janice Redish. Published by Morgan Kaufmann, June 2007.
From the publisher:
Redish has done her homework and created a thorough overview of the issues in writing for the Web. Ironically, I must recommend that you read her every word so that you can find out why your customers won't read very many words on your website — and what to do about it.
— Jakob Nielsen, Principal, Nielsen Norman Group
- Writing for Multimedia and the Web, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Content Development for Interactive Media
By Timothy Garrand. Published by Focal Press; 3rd edition, July 21, 2006. The third edition added new sections and updated chapters. The latest edition also includes case studies, a glossary of essential Web lingo, and much more.
From the publisher:
Learning how to write for just one type of interactive media, such as web sites or games, is not enough! To be truly successful as an interactive writer or designer, you need to understand how to create content for all types of new media.
Writing for Multimedia and the Web is the most comprehensive guide available for interactive writing. It covers Web sites, computer games, e-learning courses, training programs, immersive exhibits, and much more. Earlier editions have garnered rave reviews as a writing handbook for multimedia and Web professionals, as well as a classroom text for interactive writing and design.
New Sections and Completely Updated Chapters:
- Writing a corporate Web site: T. Rowe Price
- Creating blogs and podcasts
- Web writing tips from usability experts
- Optimizing text for web search engines
- Defining the user with use cases and user scenarios
- Dealing with Web editors
- Software for organizing and writing interactive media content
- Script formats for all types of multimedia and web projects
- Writing careers
- The case studies explain real-life lessons and professional savvy through the experiences of interactive writing pros
- The first-time glossary provides a quick-and-easy way to learn essential Web writer lingo
- Gain access to pros' personal views though reading first-person interviews with successful interactive designers and writers
- Content Critical: Gaining Competitive Advantage through High-Quality Web Content
by Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton. Published by Financial Times Prentice Hall, October 2001. See also McGovern's Content Critical book information section to download a free chapter, learn more about the book.
From the publisher:
Content Critical will help you:
- discover the key skills required to write compelling content for the Web
- understand the rules of publishing content online
- know how to appeal to your online readers
- develop an effective Internet communications strategy
- build publishing skills within your organization.
- Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy
By Nick Usborne. Published by McGraw-Hill; 1st edition, November 26, 2001. A popular, insightful, helpful book about writing online copy that works.
From the publisher:
In Net Words, emarketing guru Nick Usborne introduces you to a revolutionary copy-centered approach to online marketing. He explains what works and what doesn't and shows you how to create copy for websites, enewsletters, and email campaigns guaranteed to: attract customers and hold their attention differentiate your business from its competitors online dramatically increase sales from your site build customer loyalty breathe new life into your customer services Net Words offers corporate decision makers an inexpensive, proven, low-tech cure for their ecommerce blues. It is also a how-to guide for copywriters thinking about taking the leap into online marketing, as well as for Web professionals who want to increase their sites' usability and appeal.
- Successful Search Engine Copywriting
by Heather Lloyd-Martin. Heather is a top-notch copywriter who's an expert at writing for search engines to help achieve top rankings. I've worked with Heather on Web site projects first hand and know how incredibly gifted she is, so I know her book is worth every penny and then some. Heather states that this book provides “straightforward, how-to SEO copywriting information your small business, marketing team or copywriter needs for search engine success. A complete SEO copywriting reference book, you'll read case studies, see interviews with leading seo experts and discover leading-edge information to help you truly master the SEO copywriting space.” Chris Sherman, SEO expert writes, “Successful Search Engine Copywriting is an excellent book. It's packed with solid, reliable information and techniques that can help improve the visibility of any site in search results...The book should be on the must-read list for anyone wanting to hone their search engine optimization skills.” Purchase Successful Search Engine Copywriting through her Web site.
- The Web Content Style Guide: An Essential Reference for Online Writers, Editors and Managers
By Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton, Catherine O'Dowd. Published by Financial Times Prentice Hall, October 2001. See also McGovern's The Web Content Style Guide book information section to download a free chapter, learn more about the book.
From the publisher:
As quality becomes ever more critical in differentiating successful websites, the need for a professional approach to your content is growing. The Web Content Style Guide provides a set of standards and rules to ensure consistent quality content and a flawless service to your readers.