How often do you go to a website with the intention of carefully reading its content?
Most of us use the web to get things done, so we scan websites hurriedly for the words we are looking for and ignore anything we don’t think looks relevant.
Web usability expert Steve Krug summarises the difference between how we write and what a web user sees:
We’re thinking “great literature” (or at least “product brochure”), while the user’s reality is much closer to “billboard going by at 60 miles an hour.”
This tendency to speed-browse is even greater in many students: web users in the 18-25 age
group are used to using Google to find information instantly, and have a ‘click first, ask
questions later’ attitude. (Read more about how young adults use the web.)
However, it is very easy to forget this when writing content for a webpage. So, we’ve pulled together some tips to help optimise your web content for the way users actually read.
4 top tips to enhance web content
1. Emphasise key words
Put the important words students are looking for in page headings to catch their attention. This also makes the page more likely to show up if students search for these words on Google. Short, task-focused headings can be especially useful, e.g. ‘Apply for funding’, ‘How to pay’.
2. Be consistent with headings
Create a clear visual hierarchy on a page by ensuring the most important things on the page are formatted as Heading 1, then sub-headings as Heading 2, etc.
3. Cut out needless words
With so much information whizzing past on the web, a user is more likely to stop and read short, concise paragraphs that get straight to the point.
4. Position your content carefully
The top-left corner of a webpage tends to be where a user’s eyes will focus, while the bottom-right gets far less attention. The Accommodation homepage makes the most of this by choosing the most relevant links from the boxes at the bottom of the page, and displaying them alongside eye-catching images in the top-left section.
Visit our web support pages for more information on writing for the web.
Web and Digital Communications Assistant (GBP)