Writing well for the web
Are you writing or revising content for University of Worcester webpages? Great. You’re in the right place. These tips will help you write engaging and impactful content for our website.
Write for the reader
Before you start writing always ask yourself:
- who is the main audience?
- what do they want to know?
- or, what task are they trying to complete?
Try to get inside the heads of your readers. A useful technique for this is empathy mapping – where you paint a picture of one individual whose thoughts and feelings can ring true for your whole audience. When writing keep this person in mind and adjust your content and tone accordingly.
Ask yourself whether copy will be relevant, interesting and appealing to the reader? You can’t expect them to act on it if you haven’t thought about what they need, want and feel.
Keep it simple
Good online content is easy to read and understand. Research has shown that when people read online 79% scan the page, with only 16% reading word-by-word.
To help people scan the page, use:
- short sentences
- sub-headed sections
- simple vocabulary
Keep complicated sentence constructions to a minimum. This helps users find what they need quickly and absorb it easily.
Don’t feel you have to publish everything you can online. Publish only what your audience needs to know.
Chunk your content
Write short paragraphs which cover only one topic.
Along with short, easy-to-read blocks of text, you also should make good use of bullet lists and sub-headlines. These elements help guide readers' eyes toward the most important content, and make it easier to absorb.
Use the active voice
Active writing is clearer and more dynamic. Here are some examples of passive vs active writing:
Passive: The mat was sat on by the cat
Active: The cat sat on the mat
Also address the reader as ‘you’ where possible.
Passive: More information can be obtained by prospective students from our course pages.
Active: You can find more information on our course pages.
To know whether you are writing in the active or passive voice, identify the subject of the sentence and decide whether the subject is doing the action or being acted upon.
Say the important stuff first
Imagine you’re talking to the reader face-to-face. Think what they’d want to hear first, then second, third, and so on.
Front load your page and each paragraph, so that you’re starting with the key information and gradually adding more detail.
Use descriptive links
The most helpful link text describes the page that’s being linked to. Concise descriptive links help:
- readers scanning the page
- people using screen readers
- your page’s search-engine ranking
Here are some examples:
Good: There’s been a lot of research done on writing good hyperlinks.
Bad: To read a research article about writing good hyperlinks click here.
Write with personality
Writing clear and simple content doesn’t mean removing all personality. The language you use is one of the best ways to express our values.
Our language is warm, friendly, open and inviting. We use ‘you’ and ‘we’ and we give readers plenty of reminders about the supportive community we’re all part of.
We write as we speak, so we’re not stuffy and formal, but we’re not overly familiar either.
Our language brings out the benefits in everything we do. It’s clear, concise and straight talking, so those benefits stand out and our audience can really see what a difference we make to their lives.
Our language is inspiring, uplifting and positive. It’s interesting, with imaginative touches and varied pace, so our audience feels excited about being part of Worcester and the opportunities that brings.
Follow editorial standards
Read our writing style guide for more details about how to write in a consistent style.