Writing for digital: important things to consider

Writing for digital: important things to consider


When you're writing for your business, whether it's a description on your website or blog post, try to keep in mind that people read screens differently to paper.

You need to think of your audience as a bit lazy.

Unconsciously when we're looking at text on a screen, we generally read quickly. Your audience will scan for the information they're looking for, instead of reading every word.

This is mostly because screens are straining on the eyes. Reading a big chunk of text can hurt, can't it?

It's also because people are often multitasking while they're reading - they could be on the train to work or listening to music etc.

This means it's important to lead your written content with something interesting that's going to pull them through the blog post or product page. 

It also means that if you want to get across a lot of information, you need to break it down into small, digestible chunks - I'm talking about bullet points and lists. 


Here are some specific things to keep in mind, I like to think of these as the digital content rules:


- Use no more than two sentences per paragraph. The main reason for this is for mobile users - when the screen is shrunk, paragraphs are usually doubled in size. (The BBC only use 1 sentence / Guardian uses 2)


- Always opt for the most simple or shortest word (e.g. don't use alternative, instead use other / don't use conclusion instead use end). This guide helps if you struggle with this: http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/files/alternative.pdf 


-    Lists are very useful when trying to explain and break down a point to the reader. 

-    Imagine you’re talking to your reader, write like you're having a conversation. Try to use words like ‘you' as often as possible.

-    Sometimes it's good to add questions it makes the reader briefly stop and think.

-    Avoid capitalising words, if you really need to make a point go bold - it's much easier to read and digest than caps.

-    Cut out the waffle - try to only provide the most useful information. If a point needs further clarification, add in a link to another source (instead of writing it).


by Emily Weston


Sapphire Bates