Writing Effective and Accessible Web Content (And The Skills You Need To Ace It) | Pepper Content

Writing Effective and Accessible Web Content (And The Skills You Need To Ace It)

Team Pepper
Team Pepper
Posted on 17/04/215 min read
Writing Effective and Accessible Web Content (And The Skills You Need To Ace It)

Every second, Google receives 40,000 search queries, translating to 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Increasingly, the world comes to the internet to find information, answers, suggestions, and even opinions – and at the core of the solution to each of these queries is text matter.

Table of contents

  • Content Writing Skills to Have in 2021
    • Good Vs. Bad Content
    • Following the tone of voice principles
    • Making text scannable and search engine-friendly
    • Make it simple and easy to understand
    • Optimize for clarity and conciseness
    • Ensuring quality
  • The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 
  • FAQs

Every second, Google receives 40,000 search queries, translating to 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Increasingly, the world comes to the internet to find information, answers, suggestions, and even opinions – and at the core of the solution to each of these queries is text matter. 

The internet has replaced the dictionary, the encyclopedia, and the newspaper. But have writers, copywriters, and journalists optimized their content writing skills for the web? A lot of language education still revolves around pre-digital era media. For example, in school, we learn to write letters (not emails), create monologues for a speech competition (not scripts for podcasts), and read novels and essays (not eBooks and blogs). 

While there’s value to be derived from these pursuits, today’s content writers need to be able to tweak these article writing skills and adapt to what works for the web. Whether you consider yourself a novice writer or are an accomplished freelancer, following these tips can help you learn how to write search engine-friendly, accessible and lucid content for the web.

Content Writing Skills to Have in 2021

1. Good web content vs. bad web content

Good content effectively communicates its intended message to its intended audience, i.e., good content is measured by its effectiveness. To understand how web content is perceived, take a look at this comparison between web and print:

Understanding the webUnderstanding print
How does the text appear to a reader?Text on digital screens is harder to read due to color, luminosity, flicker, and glare. As a result, reading online is 10% to 30% slower. Text on print is not strainful to the eye. But there is no control over how the text appears, i.e., font size, color, or type.
How does a user read? Tracking the eyeball.Web readers scan a page, i.e., they scroll down the page searching for keywords to find the exact information they need.Print reading is less task-oriented, where readers can take time to extract maximum information.
User behaviorTask-oriented Problem-solving Impatient and critical Averse to long-form content that requires scrollingDetail-oriented Knowledge-seeking Attentive Does not mind or actively seeking long-form content

Conclusion: Brevity is key when it comes to web content. Aim to make your copy scannable, concise, and objective.

Effective web content is:

  1. Clear and concise: Write to the point and avoid jargon and acronyms.
  2. Short: Make each sentence brief and memorable. 
  3. Active: Write in such a way that a user is tempted to take action.
  4. Positive: Talk about what can be done, not about what can’t be done.
  5. Specific: Address one particular challenge or issue at a time. Address the audience and convey empathy over sympathy.

Take a look at the examples below and note the possible impression it creates on you. 

Which support team are you most convinced by?

TextTone of VoicePossible impression
24/7 SupportOur technically efficient support team will ensure that your website is live round the clock without any glitch. They are there to guide, assist and help you with the process of hosting your website and more.Technical, verbose, distant – refers to support team in the third person Quite “salesy” 
24/7 Managed WordPress Hosting SupportOur in-house team is always at hand to help you grow your presence online. You can reach out to us via chat or phone 24 hours a day 7 days a week.Concise, action-oriented, personal yet professionalEasy to understand. Prompts trust-building through action. 
24/7 AWARD-WINNING SUPPORTLeave all your website hosting worries to us.Informal and non-technicalSalesy and vague but attention-grabbing

For new writers, reading your work aloud is the best way to get used to web writing. If you find yourself sounding jargony with words that have no flow or are vague and inconsistent, then you should change the structure of a sentence.

2. Following the tone of voice principle

Grammarly users receive a mail once a week that shows stats on ‘Tone’.

Source

But what is tone, and why is it important for effective web write-ups? 

To understand tone, take a look at the example below:

The Soul Tree cosmetics brand focuses on the use of natural ingredients. Their target audience is likely to be older women (mostly professionals) who don’t mind spending some extra bucks on getting the best treatment for their skin.

The tone of voice: To the point, subtle, informative, neutral

In contrast, ColourPop is an affordable skincare brand that focuses on fun colors. Their target audience is likely to be younger women (mostly teenagers and college students) who constantly search for the latest or trendy products.

Tone of voice: Evocative, exciting, cheerful, friendly, and conversational

Neither is wrong nor right, or good or bad. The content on the website simply reflects the voice or personality of their audience. 

To understand the tone you must follow, read existing content on a website before starting your work. Try to emulate the website’s “personality” as much as possible. Check out the brand’s social media pages to research the target audience. Make conclusions about the intended readers:

  • Characteristics
  • Behavior
  • Gender
  • Age

You should also pay attention to the goal of your write-up. For example, writing a message about your 24×7 customer service aims to ‘reassure’ readers and gain trust. Writing copy for a discount coupon aims to ‘encourage’ readers to buy products.

You can think of goals as action words:

  • Inform  
  • Reassure  
  • Promote  
  • Remind  
  • Warn  
  • Instruct

You can also opt for web content writing agencies to do this work for you or hire internal content writers with the required expertise. 

3. Making text scannable and search engine-friendly

As mentioned before, web readers tend to scan pages rather than read word by word. So here’s how you can make your text scannable:

  • Break topics into headings and subheadings
  • Keep the length of paragraphs limited to 3-5 sentences
  • Use lists for items belonging to the same category
  • Use tables to present data and make comparisons
  • Use bold, underline, capitals, and italics to provide emphasis (must be used sparingly)
  • Distribute keywords throughout the piece. Do not stuff keywords in one or two paragraphs.

4. Make content simple and easy to understand

Web readers are impatient as they are eagerly looking for answers. As a result, you need to write in plain English so that it’s easy to parse.

Follow these golden rules for writing simply:

  • Use everyday words
  • Never use two words when one will do. For example, very beautiful vs. gorgeous
  • Avoid foreign words. Carpe diem. Cul de sac. Ad hoc.
  • Avoid nominalizations (i.e., turning verbs into nouns), e.g., use ‘to engage staff’ instead of ‘to ensure the engagement of staff.’
  • Use active voice

5. Optimize for clarity and conciseness

Writing with clarity means removing all potential causes of confusion and misunderstanding.

Tip: Here are some rules for writing clearly:

  • Avoid clichés, buzzwords, and metaphors 
  • Avoid jargons
  • Provide the full names of acronyms and abbreviations
  • Write instructions in the imperative form – e.g., ‘Fill out this form to apply.’ Not ‘If you wish to apply, please complete the form below.’ 

6. Ensuring quality

Before you hit the publish button, it’s important to check the quality of your work. Here are some tools you can use for the same:

  • Check grammar using Grammarly
  • Check readability using the Hemingway app
  • Edit your work only after a gap of one to two hours. You will read the content with fresh eyes.
  • Support all your facts and statistics with sources. Make sure you have linked the right pages.
  • Find areas where you can link content within your website.
  • Be open to criticism and rework. More often than not, your editor, manager, or client is simply trying to ensure consistency across the board. Remember that most websites are collaborative efforts, not one man’s work.

With these key how-tos, you’re now well equipped to be a better web writer. Practice your way with words, and you’ll soon be able to follow these rules like muscle memory.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

How to write effective content for the web? Adhere to these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to write the most accessible website content: 

Perceivable guidelines:

  1. Insert Alt text in images, videos, and time-based media like presentations and slideshows.
  2. Write adaptable and straightforward content in a simple layout. 
  3. Write distinguishable content which is easy to read in contrast to the background, for ex-Black text on white background. 

Understandable guidelines:

  1. Write the content in an understandable language and structure for the whole spectrum of readers. 
  2. The content structure must match the website layout. 

FAQs

1. How to write accessible content?

Write unique page titles 
Insert Alt text in images 
If possible, add videos with transcripts and captions 
Adhere to content writing structures 
Write clearly with no grammatical errors

2. How to write good content?

Research on the subject, the niche, and the readers
Peruse client instructions thoroughly 
Use engaging hooks to empower a full read 
Follow the SEO rules 
Edit objectively 
Always use active voice
Do not use unnecessary fillers

3. How to write original content?

Understand the tone of your content, for example, formal, informal, or general 
Plagiarism is a strict no. Use plagiarism checker tools such as Grammarly, Smalls SEO tools, and Duplichecker 
Employ insights from internal customer data 
The storytelling method is ideal for writing blogs 
Read a variety of content daily
Try to write daily, even if not for a client

4. What are the most accessible fonts?

The most accessible fonts to use include: 
Calibri
Helvetica
Verdana
Times New Roman
Tahoma
Montserrat 

5. How to make accessible content for students?

Short sentences are easy for students to grasp
Use descriptive hyperlinks
Use accessible fonts 
Explain complex concepts in simplistic terms 

6. How do you create effective online content?

Write authentic content with engaging hooks and fresh perspectives

Writing blogs will increase website traffic

Write general information on top and detailed info at the bottom (Inverted Pyramid Model) 

Write features succinctly 

Be consistent in word choices on each page; for ex- the word ‘Lecture’ should not be replaced by ‘Learning sessions’ on the following web page 

The text should be scannable – Use bullet points, bold headings, and spacing between paragraphs

Employ internal hyperlinking

Practice SEO guidelines

7. What are the contents of a website?

Website content includes text, videos, images, audio, and animations. 

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