Writing for online? A formula for BRIEF webtext

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Webtext on a mobile phone … we’re on the go, it’s tiny and tough to read. So, keep your copy brief.

Practising what I am about to preach about web copy, this post is 350 words. Exactly.

The case for not writing 1,000-word pages, especially for mobile devices, is simple: Do you want to read reams of text on your phone? CAN you read reams of text on your phone? Do you have TIME to…

Now, in point form (saving dozens of words), here’s a process for getting your message across clearly and briefly:

  • Outline your key points. Essential details only.
  • Ensure your call to action is included. Need multiple calls to action? Consider multiple pages.
  • Order details in logical progression. Remember, few people will read more than 30-45 seconds unless they’re REALLY interested. Get your call to action in the first few paragraphs.
  • Write your article. Stick to vital info, don’t get flowery, pick adjectives and descriptors with care.
  • Did I say stay on subject? Don’t stray.
  • If an aside, or background information is required, consider layering your content. Use a hyperlink in the text so those deeply interested can click for more.
  • Wrap up by reiterating the call to action, adding a new wrinkle or an “easter egg”, a present for those who stuck around.
  • Now, edit. Plan to cut 25% of the words. Words like “that”, bureaucratese and phrases like “in the process of” are prime targets. Find ways to replace 3, 4 or 5 words with just one.
  • Would a list (like this one) paraphrase text, breaking up straight lines of copy?
  • Be ruthless, which is hard when it’s your text. Take a break and return for a fresh look. Is there repetition? Unnecessary adjectives? Run-on or redundant quotes?

Remember: You can address almost any subject in under 100 words if you really have to. Vanity and our sense of importance are enemies of tight, concise writing.

More complicated subjects might require more text, but the concept is the same. Tight is right.

Getting your message across in 400 words (or less) will be appreciated. Happy site visitors are more likely to follow your call to action…

NOTE: This is the second installment in my Writing Well series. If you haven’t already seen it, check out Don’t Be An Idoit! Quality Copy Matters in Your WritingWatch for more writing tips and techniques next week.

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