Digital Audiences Like Short Text
Holy Short Attention Span, Batman!
You need to keep your reader's attention. That's probably the most important aspect to this series on writing for a digital audience. Reading a webpage is not like reading a book. There are probably thousands of other websites that cover the same topic that you're writing about, and you need yours to stand out.
The average time a person spends on a website is less than a minute. If you don't grab your audience's attention, they'll be gone a lot faster than that. One way that you can send your readers fleeing is by giving them huge chunks of text to read.
Efficient ways of communicating.
Writing is communicating. As we've discussed before, we need to use different methods of communication to talk to different people. When people are reading things online, there are a multitude of things that get in the way of them reading. It's your job to make this it as easy as possible to engage with your work. Here are some ways in which you can make your text more readable;
- Instead of long list separated by commas, try using bullet points.
- Use subheadings to keep your readers attention and to guide them to the relevant parts of the text for them.
- Use shorter sentences. You don't want to be counting the words in every sentence you write, but an upper limit should be 25 words.
- Use lots of space on the page. Each paragraph you write should have a clear point, which you should get across as clearly as possible.
- Use plain English as Frank Bonkowski recommends in Write Now: Business Writing That Gets Results.
Practice makes perfect
If you're used to writing essays or long articles, changing the way that you write can be tricky. Practice writing using shorter, more concise sentences and paragraphs when you're wring for a digital audience.
While you're online, have a look to see the styles in which other people are writing. Don't spend hours researching, just be aware of what you're consuming. Being actively aware of how you like to consume information can inform the way in which you write.
I hope that you have a really productive week, readers! I'll be back next week with more on how to write for digital audiences.
Last week on writing for digital audiences: using familiar language.
Frank has written a post on how to create an outline - this can be very useful when writing for a digital audience, as it helps you to get your message across clearly. Read the post here.