Effective Web Content: Structure

When you're writing web content, it can't just be a mish-mash of information.  It can't read like a story, either.  You have to present information in a logical order - and it has to be organized so the reader doesn't have to make sense of what you're saying (statistically, web readers don't have time to do that).

So what is it supposed to look like?  Kind-of like this:

Of course, you can switch up the who or the what depending on your web content's topic; however, leave the why where it is.


People reading web content want to know what they're about to read before they read it - and sometimes they only read the first few lines - so that's where you've got to hook them.

Give the most pertinent information first.

In web content writing, the most pertinent information is how you're going to solve their problem, answer their question or help them out of the situation they're in.

WHO or WHAT

Who or what is the subject of what you're writing?  How do they/does it solve a problem?  Make this the focus of your first sentence or two - you can do that by starting off with a name or whatever the hot topic is:

"Angie Papple Johnston, a web content writer with ten years of experience..."
or
"HireAWriterOnline.com, your one-stop shop for business writing services..."


WHERE

If a location is important (like when you're writing a landing page for a locally-operated business), incorporate it into your first paragraph:

"Johnston's Mililani office..."
or
"Located in the heart of historic Mililani..."


WHEN

Time frames are important; they can cover things like years of experience, how long a particular product or service will be provided, how long current pricing will last or when an important event will take (or has taken) place.  If a time frame is an integral part of what you need to communicate, try to include it at the top of the document.


HOW or WHY

If you've snagged your readers' attention with the first paragraph, they'll want to know exactly how a service can solve their problems and why it's the best solution for them.

Say you're writing for a shoe store.  In the how and why portion (the rest of your content - all the way up to the conclusion) you'll want to cover reasons people should shop at this particular shoe store instead of the one down the street.

Bulleted lists come in very handy - you'll enable readers to scan through the content so they don't have to read the whole page, and lists draw attention to the most important points.


CONCLUSION

Web content is usually best wrapped up by calling the reader to take action.  Things like "Contact us" and "Call (000)..." fit especially well - so sum up everything you've said by continuing to provide value to the reader and include a call to action:

"Still Etto's Shoes on Main and M-36 has worked hard to earn our reputation and your trust over the last sixty years; call or stop in today to find your glass slipper."

Your clients may not realize that you've structured your web content to meet their readers' needs, but they will recognize that they were captivated by what you wrote - and that's as good as money in the bank.

How do you write your web content?  Do you organize it differently and meet with success?  Please share your comments, and feel free to leave a link to your own blog or website!