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14.06.2011

Writing for the Web - Part 2: Text Structure

Writing for the Web

The layout for the website is finished, the pictures have all been taken and the programming is progressing well. All you need now is the text – the right words. You try your hardest to find some inspiration. If only the page didn’t seem so empty. You wonder where on earth you should begin. Part two in the series “Writing for the Web” focuses on how to structure your text successfully, and how this can be achieved without getting too frustrated.

Never fear an empty page – here’s how to structure your text!

Are you often in the unpleasant situation of sitting in front of an empty page? Experiencing the feeling that you want to write something, but you are simply unable to find the right words? The fact that web writers usually sit in front of a virtual page unfortunately doesn’t make it any easier. Luckily, our second article in the series Writing for the Web will supply you with helpful information – and to make things easier for you when you are typing away in future, here’s a good tip:

Use structuring models and concise formulas!

What are those, you ask yourself? Well, they are transferable frameworks that can be used for most texts. Although they don’t provide you with the right words, you are able to orientate your writing on these models in order to create a successful structure for your text. Here are three useful concepts:

AIDA formula
Even though it originated in the 1960s, the good old AIDA formula – which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action – still remains entirely contemporary. Think about how you can attract the attention of your target group and also what message is relevant to your readers and arouses interest because of its benefits. A personal approach, pictures and examples or comparisons can transmit these benefits into the world of the target group and thus trigger desire. Which only leaves the final action: Do you want users to click or place an order? Interaction or a recommendation? Be clear and take your reader by the hand – don’t be afraid of clear statements, but please remain friendly at all times.

KISS
 After all, people are only interested in the most important information. If there are several points of equal importance, a list can be easily made – and if there are more than five points, then sub-headings are a good idea. E voilà – the text is both clear and effective.

New, useful, relevant
In journalism, information should preferably be new, useful and relevant. This applies not only to headlines, but also to websites. When you create a sub-page, ask yourself the following three questions before you begin: “What is new about this, what is useful, what is relevant?”. If you cannot find a plausible answer to any of these three questions, then it would be advisable to do without that particular sub-page. However, the greater the number of good reasons that you can find – and please be honest with yourself here – the more prominently you can present your subject.

In summary, web writers – and those who aspire to become one – need to remember:

  • Never fear an empty page
  • Use a structuring model to help you structure your text
  • Attract attention, arouse interest and trigger desire, and then use this to provoke a concrete action (AIDA formula)
  • Write clearly and keep your language simple (KISS)
  • Always ask yourself whether information is new, useful or relevant to your reader

 

The right style

The first two parts in our series have explained how texts on the Web are perceived by readers and you now know how to sensibly structure your text on a virtual page. Which leads us to the question as to how to achieve the best phrasing for what you want to say. Which words should be chosen? Which sentence structure is recommended? And what should be avoided at all costs? We will answer these questions next time, in our third contribution to the series Writing for the Web. For now, we’ll just say this much: it will be all about authoritative syllables, active words and passive sentences.