Paul Hanrahan
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The wealth of information at our fingertips and our diminishing attention spans mean the challenge of getting people to read your blogs, social media, website content is very real. Here are my top three tips for writing online. It’s not rocket science but it is rock star* science.

*The choice of sub headings below do not necessarily reflect my musical taste.

Writing online tends to be different from what we learned in school. Short sharp bursts of copy largely outweigh lengthier or more detailed pieces. Papers such as the ‘i’ Newspaper also reflect the trend for quality bite size writing.

KISS – keep it short and simple

That email drops in your mailbox. The scroll bar ever decreases as it loads. The paragraphs take up 75% of the screen. Padding words and meaningless superlatives just add to an ever growing paragraph size. There are ostentatious words that I need to stop and remind myself what they mean. My heart sinks – I’ll read that tomorrow, the next day, never.

Tip: Being part of a generation where we were charged extra for pages per text, I have always rigorously sub edited my copy. If you can say it in five rather than 500 words, all the better. Keep the words simple so I don’t have to over think it. And remember, KISS gave rock and roll to you, it’s never too late to join the KISS army.

Bullet for my Valentine

Bullet for my Valentine singer
Bullet for my Valentine, Hovefestivalen 2013 by NRK P3 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I like bullets because they:

  • Force you to list key points
  • Break up lengthy paragraphs
  • Help you show off the benefits of your organisation or point of view
  • Let the reader decide what points are relevant to them quickly
  • Don’t allow for waffling

Tip:

  1. Use bullets sparingly but as a method for getting your point across quicker. They look more pleasant on a page and appear to suggest less work required to read them.
  2. You might want to think about designing a specific emoji for your bullets based on the theme of your website copy and design.
  3. Don’t listen to Bullet for my Valentine.

 

The Subways – Sub headings

Rock hand sign from an audience member at a Subways concert
The Subways at Reading Festival by Antonio Roberts (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Like bullets, sub headings for larger pieces of work make it easier to skim. If your reader has less time on their hands (the average page view times I see on Google Analytics suggest they do) sub heads let them get to the specific thing that might interest them in the blog.

Tip: Add images in between the sub heads to keep people’s attention and help stop the dreaded scroll and leaving your blog.

Semisonic – Closing time on this blog.

Thanks for reading and getting to the end. Feel free to add Semisonic – Closing Time to your playlist.

Main image credit: KISS army at Sherlocks by Brandon I. (CC BY-NC 2.0)