Good writing principles that apply to print, apply equally to websites. If information does not meet user expectations it will not be successful.

Readability

Research has shown that reading from a computer screen is 25% slower than from print. You can help your users to efficiently locate the information they are looking for by adhering to the following principles:

  • avoid jargon and provide explanations for terms used
  • be consistent in language and style
  • make page and content headings meaningful  - if it is not what users are seeking, they can move on without reading further
  • highlight key information with bold or bulleted and numbered lists
  • limit each paragraph to one idea and state what it is in the first sentence
  • don’t mix second and third person, or the impersonal: you/they
  • avoid passive phrases, eg. 'The University requires that .....", rather than "Students are required by the University to ..."
  • where substantial content is required, precede this with a summary
  • organise information into multiple pages with an index, rather than one long page and avoid large tables of data
  • avoid repetition, excess verbiage, superlatives and vague claims
  • many users access sites directly from search engines bypassing your website structure. Pages in this context should be meaningful and stand-alone.

There is more information about structuring page content in the Site Editor Course.

Web Addresses – why do they matter?

  • Good web addresses help users understand where they are in a website and see where they can go.
  • Good web addresses improve search rankings
  • Users looking at search results spend 24% of their time looking at the URLs to decide if they’ll visit a page
  • Users will assess the credibility of a site and its content based on the URL
  • Good web addresses are easier for users to remember and recognise
  • Good web addresses are more useful and effective in print, email, social media and other channels
  • Broken links, multiple URLs and changing URLs are bad for business—they lead to confusing user experiences and damage our search rankings.