Monday, August 31, 2009

Web 2.0 Tips, Part 5: Keep It Simple

When writing in the Web 2.0 world—which is already fading into a new generation of messaging—go for simplicity, on both the language and format levels.

  • Remember people’s attention span. Readers are in and out of your website at lightning speed. They’d better be able to get your message quickly and memorably.
  • Think like a twitterbird. Twitter allows only 140 characters of text per entry. This restriction offers great practice opportunities to get real by beginning with and sticking to the most important point.
  • Use clear, active language. Avoid passive language, and if you’re not sure what that means, look it up. When communicating with your current and prospective clients, you’ll want to be readable, conversational, and personal.


  • Use scanning devices. Set your text in small, digestible chunks, separating sections by headings and bullet points to improve readability and highlight your ideas.
  • Link things. While you may not want to send people away from your webpage, you may want to send them to other parts of your own website. Linking them to ideas is your nonverbal way of extending the conversation. Of course, make those links useful
  • Use visuals. If videos, photos, or illustrations will help, then use them. Make sure they are functional—useful—not just decorative.
  • Offer interactive elements. So many of these are available online. For instance, you can allow for RSS feeds, comments, questionnaires, quizzes, contact links, and much more. Use whatever engages your readers and piques their interest in what you have to offer.