Web writing guide
In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, users have increasingly high expectations when it comes to finding the information they need. By crafting content that is optimized for the web, you can ensure your message is clear, concise and easy to understand and that your users can find the information they need with minimal effort. Writing clearly and simply is a deceptively challenging task but an important one to master when writing for a website. Not only is it a more effective way to communicate, but it’s helpful in creating content that is more accessible.
Creating and maintaining a logical and organized outline will help keep you and your thoughts on track.
Tell your users what you’re going to tell them, and then tell them. If you don’t need a lot of background information to present your information, there’s no need to provide it.
Stick to the point
Staying on point will help your user remember it.
Try to capture your user’s attention by including some relevant details that motivate them to continue reading.
Write to your audience
A university site can have multiple audiences—students, parents, colleagues, industry competitors, researchers, etc. Think about who your main audience is and write with their main characteristics in mind.
Use active voice
Using an active voice links the subjects directly with the action. Passive voice weakens the actions of a sentence by distancing the action for the subjects performing the action.
Short and sweet
Try to stay away from long paragraphs of content. Shorter sentences and bulleted lists tend to be more effective when writing for the web as your average user won’t wade through a lot of text to find what they’re looking for.
Avoid slang and jargon
“In-speak” is useful to those who understand it but confusing and frustrating to those that don’t.
Helping users understand the destination of links is important in increasing the accessibility of a webpage or document. Screen readers can scan a page for hyperlinks, so it’s important that they make sense without the help of their surrounding content.
- Use link text that details its destination, not just “click here” or “learn more.”
- Use multiple words or a short phrase—single words are difficult for individuals with limited motor control to hit.
- Highlight only the one-to-three most important words, NOT "click here."
- Don’t use the actual URL as the link.
YES: Colorado School of Mines is accepting applications for Fall 2023 now. Submit an undergraduate application.
NO: Colorado School of Mines is accepting applications for Fall 2023 now. Click here to find out more.
If you use an image to create links, make sure the destination is included in the image alt text.
Link names to avoid: click here, read more, additional info
- Enhance scannability with subheadings, bulleted lists, numbered lists
- Offer links to relevant and supplemental information
- Employ an active voice: "They baked a delicious cake."
- Use lists or tables whenever applicable
- Anticipate visitors to read everything
- Include all information on a single page
- Employ a passive voice: "A delicious cake was baked."
- List items within a paragraph to save space.