Writing for web

 

Most content you write will be read primarily by people browsing the web. It’s important to understand that people read differently on the web than they do on paper.

The government has published a useful guide on writing for the web. We recommend you read this fully, but here are a few key points.

Meet the user need

Be:

  •  specific
  •  informative
  •  clear and to the point

Good content is easy to read

Good online content is easy to read and understand.

Use:

  •  short sentences
  •  sub-headed sections
  •  simple vocabulary

How users read web pages

Users only read about 20 to 28% of a web page.

People tend to ‘read’ a webpage in an ‘F’ shape pattern. They look across the top, then down the side, reading further across when they find what they need.

Put the most important information first. ‘Front-load’ sub-headings, titles and bullet points.

For example, say ‘Canteen menu’, not ‘What’s on the menu at the canteen today?’

Read more

Web elements

Web elements help uses to navigate the content on our websites.

Alt text

Alt text is a way to label images, and it's especially important for people who can’t see the images on our website. Alt text should describe the image in a brief sentence or two.

Buttons

Buttons should always contain actions. The language should be clear and concise. Capitalize every word, including articles.

  • Log In
  • Sign Up Free
  • Subscribe
  • Email Us

Checkboxes

Use sentence case for checkboxes.

Drop-down menus

Use title case for menu names and sentence case for menu items.

Forms

Form titles should clearly and quickly explain the purpose of the form.

Use title case for form titles and sentence case for form fields.

Keep forms as short as possible.

Only request information that we need and intend to use. Don’t ask for information that could be considered private or personal, including gender. If you need to ask for gender, provide a field the user can fill in on their own, not a drop-down menu.

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings organize content for readers.

Titles (H1)

Your title should be 65 characters or less (including spaces).

You can use more than 65 characters if it’s essential for making the title clear or unique, but do not do this routinely because google cuts off the rest of the title after 65 characters and longer titles are harder to understand.

Don’t use punctuation in a title unless the title is a question.

Read full guidance on titles and descriptions.

Subheadings (H2, H3, etc.)

Headings and subheadings should be organized in a hierarchy, with heading first, followed by subheadings in order. (An H2 will nestle under H1, an H3 under H2, and on down.)

Include the most relevant keywords in your headings and subheadings, and make sure you cover the main point of the content.

Use sentence case

Links

Provide a link whenever you’re referring to something on an external website. Use links to point users to relevant content and trusted external resources.

Don’t include preceding articles (a, an, the, our) when you link text. For example:

Yes: Read the automation guide for details.

No: Read the automation guide for details.

If a link comes at the end of a sentence or before a comma, don’t link the punctuation mark.

Don’t say things like “Click here” or “Click for more information” or “Read this.” Write the sentence as you normally would, and link relevant keywords.

Lists

Use lists to present steps, groups, or sets of information. Give context for the list with a brief introduction. Number lists when the order is important, like when you’re describing steps of a process. Don’t use numbers when the list’s order doesn’t matter.


Navigation

Use title case for main navigation. Use sentence case for sub navigation.

Navigation links should be clear and concise.

Radio Buttons

Use title case for headings and sentence case for button fields.

Related articles

Sometimes a long piece of copy lends itself to a list of related links at the end. Don’t go overboard — four is usually plenty.

SEO

 

Title tag

  1. Include your keyword within the your title.  Keep the title under 65 characters. You can check the length using the Moz Title Tag Preview Tool.

Heading tags

  1. Include at least one H2 heading tag on any page you publish, and include your keyword in the first H2 tag.
  2. Include other short (aim for three words) heading tags throughout your document, and remember not to skip headings.

Images 

  1. Only use alt text on non-decorative  images. 
  2. Image names have to be short but descriptive- between 8 and 16 characters- and ideally include the page’s keyword. 
  3. Use hyphens when creating an image file name so search engines can “see” the words.
  4. Is your image file size 200kb or under? If including multiple images on a page try and get the file size to 150kb or under (this helps the page load faster).
  5. Have you optimised your file (no more than 80%) using a graphics programme or https://tinypng.com/ 
  6. Please see more information on uploading images to SiteKit

Internal links

  1. Ensure all the links describe their destination accurately - e.g. avoid urls or text such as 'here' or 'read more'. 
  2. Find pages on your site that rank for related topics and link to them with within the body of the content 
  3. Ensure internal links are using asset numbers and are not full urls that have been pasted in (i.e. use the asset picker to select the internal page when creating/amending a link)
  4. Don’t over stuff your copy with internal links as this may ruin user experience, to include  extra links use the quick links box.

Meta Description 

  1. To update a page’s meta description in sitekit,  select ‘Properties’ from the top menu in the page editor, then select the ‘Metadata’ tab and complete the ‘Description for search engines’ field. This should also be pasted into the  ‘summary of the content of the page’ field on the Standard tab. Please note editing meta descriptions is not available for posts in Sitekit. 
  2. Meta descriptions should be unique to each page 
  3. The optimal length for meta descriptions is between 50- 160 characters in 1-2 sentences. 
  4. Write compelling copy. Crafting a compelling description using important keywords can improve the click through rate for the page. 

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