How to write for the web and avoid creating a wall-of-text

Let’s face it, if you’re someone who reads online, you’ve likely stumbled across the dreaded wall-of-text. A wall of text is an excessively long post to a forum or blog, that is often so long, most people don’t read it.

How do you avoid writing a wall-of-text so your audience will actually engage with what it is you’re writing? I've conjured up five sure-fire ways to avoid building that wall so you can make your article great again and write properly for the web.

1. Create a clear visual hierarchy

An easy way to create a clear visual hierarchy is by using headings and subheadings. Think of your heading as the title of your article and the subheading as any of the headings under which each of the main divisions of a subject may be subdivided.

For example, the heading of this article is “5 ways to write for the web and avoid creating a wall-of-text”, whereas the subheading is “1. Create a clear visual hierarchy.”

2. Keep things clean and consistent

The user experience (UX) of your web piece should be easy for your viewer to follow. When it comes to web design, less is more, so make sure your content is easy for your audience to read on-screen. You can achieve this by:

  • Writing in point form when appropriate

  • Highlighting key terms

  • Keeping your text between 300-400 words

  • Structuring your text

3. Write in an inverted pyramid

An Inverted pyramid functions the opposite way a formal piece of writing does as the main objective is to share the most important information at the top of your article (The who, what, where, when, and how) and to then dive into the details and background. Think of it like starting with the punchline of a joke and working your way back (adding the context). This way, readers who are simply interested in skimming your piece will have an easier time doing so.

4. Help users skim

Let’s face it, we live in a busy world and most people don’t have10 minutes to spare to read an entire article, they want to skim it! To help them out, try the following:

  • Identify key points

  • Rank secondary info

  • Write concisely

  • Front-load with important info

  • Add a summary/list of highlights at the end of your article

5. Use keywords

To make your piece SEO (search engine optimization) friendly, meaning, when people search something related to your topic on a search engine, your content will appear, consider using keywords. The key to keywords are:

· Use your keyword once in your title

· Once in your headline

· 2-3 times in body copy

As you can see here, the keyword of this article is “wall-of-text” which has been used once in the title, once in the headline and two to three times in the body copy. If you don’t believe me, check for yourself. Obviously, there's a lot more to SEO than just plugging keywords into your article, you'll also want to include backlinks, add alt-text descriptions to your photos, and use keywords in your URLs. I'm really only brushing the surface here when it comes to SEO. If you're curious to learn more, check out this article by Backlinko on SEO Best Practices.

Well, there you have it! If you follow the five steps listed above you will avoid building the cringeworthy wall-of-text and will be well on your way to writing like a web copy pro. Just remember to:

1. Create a visual hierarchy

2. Keep things clean and consistent

3. Write in an inverted pyramid

4. Help users skim

5. Use keywords

And you’ll be writing like your favourite blogger in no time!

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