Oh you are writing for the web, easy peasy. We have heard this a million times. As if writing web content is cakewalk. It is no cake walk when you get to know how the readers read online. Online readers (including us) are mean. They do not care if you took your precious hours thinking about the right word. If the content doesn’t get to their heart in a matter of seconds, they honestly don’t care about what you have profoundly created as web content.
Why web readers are different
Online readers are a creed of their own. Unlike the other kind of readers who will read and process every single phrase, word and has comments on the beauty of the sentence structure, online readers scan and read. Most of the time they do not read a lot of stuff they see in a page. They scroll down and ignore a lot of text. They look at pictures and headlines. Try harder if you want them to read the text you have so painfully written. Nobody told you it was easy. Do you want to be a good and successful content writer for the web? Then take your time to understand the strange ways of an online reader’s mind. Understanding what a regular online reader does read and does not read will make you a better content writer. While what he does read matters, we are pretty sure what he ‘does not read’ matters the most. Get to know what an online reader will never want to read. Knowing your audience well is the key to success.
Here is a short guided tour to the mind of the online reader. This is going to be extremely helpful if you are a writer. After all writers are readers too!
An online reader is lazy
Imagine your typical online reader. If he had time to go out and handpick the services he wanted, he would have done that all by himself. The fact that he is looking at your product or service listed on the web itself is proof that he is a busy person who doesn’t have time to read a lot of text, analyze and understand what you are trying to say in extremely pompous language. First of all, an online reader will read on a computer screen. Whoever reads on a computer screen will easily get tired. People read more comfortably if they read on paper. People read selective portions when they read on the web. If you were planning to write a page long introduction to your piece, consider cutting the intro and rewriting it in a maximum of six or seven sentences. Make sure your sentences are short and simple. This is not where you should put your verbal prowess on display. An online reader will not have the patience to check the dictionary while looking for a product or a service. If you are writing content for the web, make sure that the text is brief and crisp.
Online readers scan text
An online reader will never read the complete text word by word. In fact he will try to skip half of it and skim through the text to get the information that he wants. An online reader is looking out for a specific information. He is not here to be awestruck at how you have planted that clever phrasal verb in the opening line. He would want to quickly get to know what he wants and how good that will be and what is in it for him. This is why while writing web content, you should always highlight text and add bullet points. If you are smart enough to write in an engaging way, you might as well get the busy online reader linger in your page a little longer and adore your writing style for a while.
Online readers are in a hurry
For most readers reading must be a pastime activity. But online readers might not have that kind of time at hand while they look at web content. They will be impatient and will not have time to sift through unclear and obscure text. They do not enjoy scrolling through verbose text. There are a million trillion hyperlinks that will connect them to another site in a matter of a second. So why would you sift through the boring gyan you write in your site? If the reader is not hooked within the first 10 seconds of looking at the text, that is not going to be a reader. Within half a minute of looking at the content (not reading it), the reader has already made a judgement about your company. It is extremely important to make your content reader friendly. Always add the most important information loud and clear. Use clear, simple text. Never underestimate the time of a reader.
An online reader is looking for credibility
When an online reader opens a webpage, he is looking for credibility. He wants to know if the services offered or products displayed will be any good. If you are going to go crazy with the superlatives while writing about a substandard product, the reader will immediately know that you are bullshitting. The only way to sustain a reader’s interest in your product or service is to make it appear credible. Use meaningful headlines to all the text you display in your website. Use plenty of photographs to get a feel of what you are talking about. Make the reader see what he is going to experience. Avoid exaggerated language that is loaded with jargon. Most online readers look at typical jargon with a lot of scorn. The clever online reader can see through you. He is not an idiot who will believe whatever you say.
An online reader will not tolerate information overload
A typical online reader is facing information overload in his regular life through emails and other forms of documents, advertisements and so on and so forth. They don’t want to spend a fraction of their second reading useless information. The fact that they are choosing an online service itself is proof enough that they value their time and they do not want to waste it commuting to random markets or shops. If they are that sorted out in their minds about their time and how they utilize their time, why would they waste it sifting through the truckload of information you are pasting on your website? Think about it. Make sure that the information you provide is easily palatable. Use short sentences and paragraphs. There should not be an idea overload in one single paragraph. Each paragraph should deal with just one subject. Use headlines to make them process the text easily and effectively. If the content is clear and accessible, that means business. That is what web content writing is all about. Get that business straight. All the best.