9 Tips to “Master” Writing for the Web

Posted: December 12, 2016

As higher ed marketers, we are constantly faced with new technologies that force us to change the way we do things. A school’s website is a perfect example of a highly visible marketing platform that must constantly evolve.

It can be tempting to simply follow along with the latest design craze or add as many HTML5 videos to your site as possible. Of course, while it’s good to stay on top of trends and new functionality, the foundation of great web content is great web writing.

That’s why we’ve put together a new Marketer’s Guide on Mastering Writing for your Higher Ed Website. The tips below offer a quick sneak-peek into some of the ideas and best practices we share in that guide.

  1. Put your audience first: In our experience, one of the most common mistakes that web writers make is to think only about the message (what they want to say) and not about the audience’s needs. When we forget about the audience, content becomes less engaging and significantly less effective.
  2. Have a purpose for every piece: You never want a reader to look at your content and wonder, “So what?” Before starting any new piece of content, ask yourself, “Why should my reader care?” and then let the answer drive what you include and what you leave out.
  3. Think about the next step: Great web writing doesn’t just inform or entertain; it motivates deeper engagement and action. The best way to do that is by thinking about your goal for the reader and then making it easy to take those steps by providing clear “calls to action” (CTA).
  4. Keep it short and sweet: You’ve probably heard that users “don’t read” web content. The truth is that they do read web content, they just read it differently. They’ll be scanning and scrolling, so make sure your web content is broken down into smaller chunks with lots of visual breaks.
  5. Let your page layout work for you: Remember that you have more than a blank white page to start from. You can use elements like the navigation, sidebars, and tables that are a part of your page template to help tell your story.
  6. Use small words to describe big ideas: Many higher ed websites fall victim to unnecessary complexity across their marketing content. However, on the web it’s better to communicate big ideas in terms that are simple, readable and relatable.
  7. Make it easy for users to find the page: Having the world’s best web content is only useful if people can find it, so try borrowing best practices from the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make easy for engines like Google to crawl and index your website.
  8. Make your content accessible to everyone: It’s important that our site is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities or needs. While your site’s accessibility is closely tied to its code and structure, content also needs to be accessible.
  9. Ask for a second opinion: Always get a second set of eyes on your work. Your reviewer can catch typos, but also help make sure your content achieves your goals.

Want even more great tips and tricks to help you improve your writing? Download the complete Marketer’s Guide.