Website Design Basics: Part 5 of 5
Did you know there’s a difference in writing for print and writing for the Internet?
When writing for the Internet, you should follow these guidelines or standards. They’re all designed to make reading something from a computer visually pleasing to the eye and to reduce eyestrain.
Sans Serif Beats Serif
Use a sans serif font. Where a serif font like Times New Roman or Georgia work best in print, online a clean sans serif like Verdana or Arial is best.
Variety Is Spice
Vary the fonts for more visual interest, but that doesn't mean use a different font for every element. You might use a different font, perhaps a serif like Georgia just for the site title. Then use the same font for headings or sub-headings and the body of text. Vary the size of the font so that headings or different from text body. You can use bold or italic for headings and sub-headings so they’ll stand out from the rest of the text.
How You Size Is Important
Never put the font size in pixels. Use points so that the reader can enlarge the text size to see it easily. Using pixels makes the font size fixed.
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do For Some
Break up articles with sub-headings, which are just subsidiary titles for blocks of information. Sub-headings break a long article into bite-sized chunks of information. People usually scan websites, looking for specific information or to see if the page is worth their time to read. A bold sub-heading guides the eye and gives a clue as to what lies beneath.
Develop the ability to create great titles. You want a title that gives a sense of what the article or post is about, but you want it to do that in a witty, clever way. This post is entitled: Build A Better Word Trap. I like to think this is clever. In my mind, it’s a play on the old cliche, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” It also ties the thought that a good website is a trap that pulls people in where they don’t want to escape. This trap uses words, or content, so there you have the thinking behind this title.
Also learn to create pithy, hopefully clever but not crucial to be so, sub-headings. The eye scans the content. The bold sub-headings jump out. Will they make the visitor stay to read the entire article? That’s your goal.
Picture Worth 1000 Words
Insert art. Is there some picture you can use to illustrate your wonderful prose? In recent blog posts, I especially like the picture of the hand seeking help from beneath the ocean surface on “Going Down For the 3rd Time.” Also good was the Catch the Wave surfing photo I used. There are lots of microstock photography sites that let you use work for free just for your website or blog. (Look for a future post about this.)
White space is important on the Internet too. Don’t hesitate to double-space below sub-headings or to set items off as important. Lists, like this series of rules, gives the reader smaller chunks of text to make them feel as if they’re reading at warp speed. Lists, bullet points, dashes - all make it easier on the reader.
Short TKOs Long
Length is important. I’m really bad at this because I tend to write long. Online, shorter is better because most people won’t stay to read some really long, lengthy article. If the post is below the fold, meaning they have to scroll to see the bottom part, you’ll lose some visitors. I probably lose them in droves.
Web writing is an easily-learned skill. If you want your prose to find an online audience rather than get ignored, learn the techniques and put them into practice.