Saturday, December 06, 2008

How to Write a Web Site that Could Cause a Divorce

Compelling people to read what you write

Copyright © 6 December 2008 by Bob Hurt.  All rights reserved.

Executive Summary

The article presents tips for writing more readable, enjoyable,  compelling web sites.


I have seen a lot of junky, congested web sites.  Frankly, they drive me nuts.  Why?  Because I know many of them contain valuable information.  However, I don't have the patience to trudge through the 
  • bad formatting, 
  • bad grammar, 
  • bad fonts, 
  • bad colors, 
  • bad graphics, and 
  • bad (disorganized) content.
So, I write with some tips, some "writing rules."  They will help you web mavens to make 
  • better blogs, 
  • better web sites, 
  • better mailing list postings, and 
  • better money.
Therefore, follow these rules religiously.  

If you do, readers can become so riveted to your work that their spouses might ask for a divorce.

Organization to put sanity into your work

  • You have lots of room on a web page, so don't jam things together.  
  • Make each page stick to its point.  
  • Make every page compel people to read the whole thing. 
  • Give every page sound, general-to-specific organization, and logical flow.

Format to make your work classy

  • Use an attractive design; get ideas here.
  • Use black font on white background for easiest legibility.
  • Carefully select and place graphics to keep content from seeming too burdensome.
  • Use bold point sanserif font (e.g., Verdana) for headlines (14 to 16 point) and subheadings (12 to 13 point).
  • Use non-bold 9 to 12 point serif font (e.g., Georgia) for paragraph text.
  • Use consistent spacing between headings and paragraphs.

Style to make readers love your writing

  • Use excellent grammar, case, and punctuation.
  • Avoid phrasing that would unintentionally offend a gender, gene, or religion group.
  • Allow no spelling errors.  
  • Avoid over-wordiness - use only as many words as you must to convey the point.
  • Avoid jargon*; define special words and phrases in-line, in hyperlinks,  or in footnotes.
  • Limit paragraphs 3 or 4 sentences.
  • Limit sentences to 17 words.
  • Order sentences with subject - verb - object, saying, in effect, who did what to whom.  
  • Eliminate to-be verbs (be, being, been, am, is, are, was, were) except when expressing identity. Read about "e-prime ." 
  • Write in active, not passive, voice.
  • Buy, memorize, and obey Strunk & White's tiny 4th Edition of The Elements of Style 

Structure and Content to deliver a powerful message

  • Put an irresistible, gripping headline at the top.
  • Insert an Executive summary at the top to accommodate busy, impatient readers.
  • Use informative subheadings to identify content segments.
  • Separate text into sensible paragraphs showing logical flow.
  • Connect paragraphs with linking sentences as needed.
  • Break up text with bulleted or numbered lists. 
  • Add a Summary or Call to Action at the end; make it compelling. 
  • Put everything needed for making a buying decision on one page.  
  • Respect other authors’ copyrights and properly cite your sources.
  • Proofread and correct your work at least twice before publishing.

Ads and promotion to make a few bucks

I loathe ads on web pages.  However, Google's AdSense program puts relatively unobtrusive ads on the margins or tops of web pages. Google selects ads that seem related to your web page content.  Google pays you money if your web guests click on any of the ads. 

If you produce a lot of click-throughs, Google will elevate your web site in the search engine rankings.  That will bring you more web traffic.
  • Consider putting Google ads on your web page - see Google AdSense .
  • Buy and use Web Position to prepare your pages and promote them to search engines.
  • Swap links with other web site owners - they put your links on their pages and vice versa.

Why follow the above rules?

  • Readers will focus on your content and points rather than the manner and medium of expression.
  • Readers will tend to believe you.
  • Readers will stay interested. 
  • Readers will see the nature of the page's content at a glance. 
  • Readers will actually read what you have to say.
  • Readers will tend to act according to your advice.  
So, follow the above rules, religiously.  

* Specialized technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject

Bob Hurt
2460 Persian Drive #70
Clearwater, FL 33763
+1 (727) 669-5511, FAX +1 (206) 600-5958