One of biggest mistakes you can make when creating a web site is to take large chunks of copy from your existing marketing materials (ads, brochures, sales letters etc.) and cut and paste them onto your web pages.
What you have to understand is that internet is different from world of print and it’s a medium that web visitors are still getting used to. For most people, reading from a computer screen is not an enjoyable experience, and some find it downright uncomfortable.
No wonder users are impatient and skim on a whim. That’s why vast majority of web users (over 79%) scan text looking for information that interests them. Very few read each and every word.
Another revealing fact is that users read 25% slower on a computer screen compared to reading from a magazine, newspaper or a book. So if people read more slowly and are scanning too, you have to create web content that’s easy and inviting to read.
MAKE EVERYTHING SHORTER One of quickest and easiest ways to improve web copy is to shorten long paragraphs. For example, if you have a paragraph that’s 12 lines long, break it up into two or three short ones. And if you need to write about many different items, use a bulleted list ... • interesting fact number one • fascinating fact number two • remarkable fact number three
Also, use short words and short sentences. They’re easier to read than long ones. And, if you want to emphasize a point within a sentence, put it in bold type or highlight it with color. Use these techniques sparingly. If you overdo them, your page will look visually messy and will discourage people from reading it.
Although it’s best to keep pages and paragraphs short, there are times when you’ll want to expand upon a topic. That’s when links come in handy. Just put a "Continue" or a "Read more" button at end of a paragraph, then you can take your reader to a new page devoted solely to your topic. Again, don’t overdo higher links . Too many of them on a page are distracting and will weaken impact of your main message.
WRITE 'USEFUL' HEADLINES Journalists and copywriters frequently use cute, clever headlines to capture attention of readers. But research shows these types of headlines are not effective on web. The cuteness of headline goes “over head” of reader because he or she is far too busy scanning. So avoid puns, cliches and metaphors. Be simple and direct and write in simple, plain English. And make sure your headlines offer reader a benefit or useful information.