Writing for the web
Writing for the web is different to any other style of writing. Web content follows unique writing conventions, and the usability of the content is just as important as the content itself.
Don’t underestimate the importance of planning your content before you start writing. This will define its purpose, audience and timeline. You should also think about how you will maintain the content in the long term.
Web content has the best chance of reading well if you follow some simple rules around words, sentences, and verbs and voice. These conventions should apply consistently across all pages of a website.
To be effective, web content should use:
- a concise and simple writing style
- short sentences with one or two clauses - Readability statistics can help here
- plain English rather than complex words
- active, rather than passive voice.
When writing web content, you should not:
- use clichés or hyperbole
- emphasise words by underlining, italics, bold or capital letters.
Monash web writers also need to consider the importance of writing the Monash way.
Even if you follow these rules and create high-quality web content, you still need to ensure that its intended audience finds it effortless to use.
To be easy to find and accessible to the most possible users, web content should:
- be well spaced so it is easy to scan
- have clearly-labelled links and subheadings so users can find content categories easily
- chunk content into paragraphs, and focus on one topic per paragraph
- left-justify headings and text
- use structural mark-up for headings
- use inclusive language that reflects Australia’s diversity.
In order to write content for Monash websites, you must attend a one-day training session with Usability and Accessibility Services.
For more information on all aspects of writing for the web, visit the 4 Syllables website.
Web accessibility is an approach to web design that aims to include as many users as possible. When writing for the web, you should ensure that your content is accessible to users of all abilities and disabilities.
- the visually and hearing-impaired
- people with intellectual disabilities
- and people with physical disabilities.
Here are some important things to consider when writing accessible web content:
- Is the copy easy to understand?
- Are visually-impaired users able to resize the text?
- Do links clearly identify their destination?
- Do links to external documents include the file type and size?
- Have you provided a text equivalent for images?
- Do the titles have structural mark-ups?
For more information on writing accessible web content, visit the Vision Australia website.