Right now several professional web writers are hard at work crafting copy for our new site —approximately 500 pages that do their best to describe all of that which is distinctly DeSales.
We’re working with folks from our many programs, majors and departments to make sure this critical marketing tool has the finest, freshest content possible. If your area hasn’t heard from us yet, you surely will in the next two months!
You can learn about the different stages of the entire redesign process at desales.edu/redesign2018.
Web writing is very different from academic and publications writing. Here’s a quick-start guide to the new DeSales website content strategy:
Writing for the Web: Why is it so Important we get This Right?
- Well-written content contributes to a positive overall user experience.
- People read the web differently than print, so we must write differently.
- On average, users only read an estimated 20% of text on a page.
- Reading from a screen is generally slower than reading in print—even slower if the content uses complex language.
- Web users scan to find information they are looking for.
- Action-oriented users rely on concise, descriptive headings to find information quickly.
- When users find the content they are looking for, they are ready to be shown their next step.
Web Writing Best Practices
Quality content has a purpose. Clarity also leads to better rankings in search results. The more accurately the content is written, the easier it will be for search engines to make sense of it.
- Audience-Centered: Content should be relevant and appropriate for the intended audience.
- Clarity: Content should make sense and not include “fluff” or unnecessary information.
- Scannability: Page content should be organized so users can quickly scan.
- Readability: Content should not exceed a 10th grade reading level.
- Brevity: Content should fit within recommended guidelines for length.
- Links: Content should be findable and include logical paths to additional content.
- Calls to Action: Most content should offer a clear next step. If there is not a clear call to action for a page, at a minimum, every page should have a purpose.
- Accessibility: Content should be accessible for all audiences.
- SEO: Follow SEO guidelines to ensure content is findable.
Readability & Plain Language
The information on our site should be easy to understand without our audience having to exert too much effort.
- Use a 10th grade reading level as the gauge for readability – yes, even for a college website!
- Write in plain, conversational language. Readability is key. Ex: “You’ll learn” vs. “You will learn”
- Long sentences and advanced vocabulary slow readers down. Plain language communicates information more efficiently.
- Avoid internal jargon and acronyms that may not be familiar to all audiences. When unavoidable, define unfamiliar terminology.
Follow these commonly accepted length guidelines:
- Sentence: Should be no more than 15-20 words.
- Paragraph: Can be as little as 1 sentence, but should be no more than five. Shorter paragraphs are easier to read, usually around 40-70 words.
- Page: Should contain a word count of 300-700. Ideal maximum length: 500 words.
- Headings: Should not exceed 8-10 words.
Exceptions: Pages where the user requires informational content. This might be organized in tabs or expandable content components.