Writing for the web requires a completely different editing process than was ingrained in our heads since elementary school. We were taught how to write thesis papers with lengthy introductions and scholarly vocabulary, not how to be web writers, which turns out to be a huge disservice in our digital society oriented for the online world.
Writing for the web includes:
Let’s focus on perfecting your editing process. Once you’ve
it’s time to start perfecting your content.To give you a clear idea of how to go through the editing process with your own content we’ll use an example of a blog post written to inform readers about how to donate supplies after tornadoes destroyed Joplin.
The first draft of a blog post or other content created for the web doesn’t have to be perfect. The goal should be to just get it all out and not worry about flow. But once all your ideas are down on paper (or in a Word document), start critiquing your work. Take a look at the first draft above. Can you tell what information is important at a glance? No. Does anything stick out to you? Probably just the email address.
My first impression of this content is not very good, but that just means there’s a lot of room for improvement! One major problem here is that there’s too much information. Remember who your audience is… Online readers are typically just skimming content. They’re not sitting down on a Sunday afternoon with a cup of coffee to do some leisurely reading with your blog articles; they’re looking for a quick read to pick up a few tidbits of information before moving on to the next thing on their to do list.
Start editing your content by locating the most important information you’re trying to share. Even though you wrote a few long paragraphs there’s likely to be only a few sentences or phrases from each paragraph that are actually essential for inclusion in the post.
Highlight the information that makes you think, “Wow, I’m glad I read that!” Keep that information around. If words don’t need to be there, don’t include them. What else do you think can be done to improve this piece?
Formatting and presentation is powerful when writing for the web. Start working on a second draft of your content paying closer attention to the layout.
This version of the post features two distinct paragraphs at the top instead of one big one. Keeping paragraphs short when writing for the web is a must. They’re easier to read and digest, especially for readers accessing your website from a mobile device.
The last section of the post was also reformatted to include the call-to-action “Help this city in need.” It’s important to give this sort of blatant direction to readers. If you don’t tell people you need them to do something, they won’t know to do it.
Breaking information up into bulleted lists where appropriate is another way to improve the layout and readability of your content. Readers can quickly identify the supplies that need to be donated because they’re listed out in bulleted form.
If you’ve followed along with these editing tips, your post is probably already looking better, but I bet it can still be improved even more. Even after making some changes to our example, it’s still not very apparent from a glance what’s going on. The devastation of the situation in Joplin isn’t clear until you read more thoroughly.
A lot of times you’ll find the most important information you want to share living at the bottom on your paragraphs. I find I need to write out a few sentences before I can formulate one that summarizes the significance of what I’m trying to say. Simply move that sentence to the beginning of the paragraph. It’ll give your writing a much stronger impact.
Keep the inverted pyramid style of writing in mind when creating content for the web. This style is all about putting the most important information first and less important information later. That way even if your website visitors don’t read the entire blog post or other online content, they are still likely to have picked up on the key information.
At this point you’re also better prepared to write a title for your blog post. Don’t put yourself through the struggle of brainstorming a title before writing the article. It’ll be much easier to think of a creative title at the very end by basing it off the content.
A few things to note about the final draft as compared to the first:
Start editing for your online readers! If you’re up for it, go back to your older web content and edit that, too. It’s good practice for perfecting your editing process. The great thing about a blog or other website content is that it can be updated at any time. Even if it’s already been published to your blog, why not perfect it for future readers?