Susannah’s blog

Web writing tips for the lockdown

Writing tips seem trivial when we’re in a worldwide pandemic. However, as many of us can’t work in the usual way, the lockdown does give us an opportunity to do some virtual gardening.

So here are three tips for tidying up your website:

1. Cut the verbiage

a. Take a figurative pruning knife to your sentences. Are they padded with unnecessary words? We tend to add descriptive words – adjectives and adverbs – to strengthen our meaning, but the effect is often the opposite.

Here’s a simple example, an advertisement from an airline (remember them?) offering an upgrade:

“Enjoy a more comfortable journey with an additional 20% more legroom.”

“Additional” and “more” mean the same thing. “Additional” gets in the way.

“Enjoy a more comfortable journey with 20% more legroom”

is crisper and more powerful.

b. While you’re about it, don’t just look at words on the page. See if there are any whole pages you could do without. Every extra page risks making your website more difficult to navigate.

2. Check your style

I don’t mean elegance of writing, I mean consistency. If you prefer “organization” with a z, then make sure it and all similar words are spelled the same way.

Try always to use the same word for the same things. Do you ask users to “Sign up”, “Register” or Subscribe”? Choose one and stick to it.

Do all your links behave the same way?

Is it obvious which words are links and which are not?

Consistency of expression is so helpful when people are easily distracted or confused.

3. Clarify your hierarchy

Is your website clearly laid out so that people know whether they are looking at a section heading, a page heading or a sub-heading?

Wherever they appear in your site, try to make the section headings the same size – you may have chosen 24pt – the page headings all the same size and the sub-headings too.

See more of my tips on web writing

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