Build A Better Word Trap

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.

Name Game

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.)

Space Cadet

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.

Takeaway Truth

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.


  1. :o) Fun article. I know some people who need to learn about white space!

  2. Maybe it's in one of the earlier posts (since this is #5), but a MAJOR turnoff for me is light text on a dark background. Can't stand it. Can't see it clearly. Immediate click away if I'm merely browsing, and major grumbles if I need something from that site.

    I think another lesson is, "because I can" is NOT a reason to get glitzy. Websites are for information, not entertainment.

  3. Thanks for asking about Gustav. Had no effects whatsoever here in Texas, but my relatives in Louisiana are praying still that the rain stops and the water stops rising. My hometown is under water with all main roads into the parish flooded. So many family friends have flooded. It's been awful.

    Terry, I agree about the light text. It drives me nuts because the dates I see in the comment section are in palest color, and I haven't been able to change the font color. Drives me nuts.

  4. Joan- you should be able to change the color on the settings page.

    Hit customize, fonts and colors, and then scroll down to see what is listed in the pale gray color. You should be able to highlight and pick a new color.

    Whenever I change my layout I have to remember to reset everything to blue and black because the template likes to reset to gray and orange.

    Who would put gray and orange together? o-O

    Prayers for the family in Louisiana.

  5. Just Me, I'll clarify my nebulous complaint. The "comment permalink time stamp" is what is a very pale aqua. I see this, and I assume everyone on blogger does, if I click the specific URL for a post. The post and all comments open. Each comment has a permalink time stamp below it. This is what is nearly unreadable.

    I know about Fonts and Colors and use it to tweak but there is no setting for this particular problem. I'm sure it's in the template somewhere, but I never have the time to scan each line of code to find it - assuming I ever discover what that is called in the template itself.

    If you or anyone knows, share!