Writing for the web

We’ve developed these videos so you can learn at your own pace. You can also pick and choose specific training as you need.

If you’d like advice with anything you haven’t found here, we're happy to help. Have a look at our team’s roles and responsibilities and reach out for support.

Introduction from the experts

This video is from Hoa Loranger of the Nielsen Norman Group. They're world experts in research-based user experience.

In their usability study with subject-matter experts, they discovered that even highly educated readers crave succinct information that's easy to scan, just like everyone else.

Introduction to writing for the web

In this introductory video, we outline what we’ll cover in the series of videos, including:

  • How web writing is different in style to other forms of communication
  • People’s habits have changed from browsing to searching for specific information to solve their immediate problems
  • What users expect of CSU’s online environment and how we can best serve them through web content.

You can also use the 8 rules of writing for the web as a guide.

Why writing for the web is different

Key takeaways:

  • Web content is a more informal way of communicating concise, task-oriented information
  • We write like we speak and use as few words as possible to convey messages
  • The ATO and Commbank websites are great examples of structuring content, making information scannable and using plain language.

Planning your content

Key takeaways:

  • Plan your content to help you achieve better results and save you hours later on
  • Start with your audience and focus on addressing their wants and needs
  • Prioritise content, so that users find what’s important to them quickly and easily.

Principles of writing for the web

Key takeaways:

  • Think and write like your audience, using active voice and simple, conversational language
  • Structure content with headings, lists and short paragraphs to make it easier for users to scan and find information that is relevant to them.

Language, tone and voice

Key takeaways:

  • Be honest and factual, and try not to oversell
  • Use upbeat language when appropriate to the information and frame information in a positive way
  • Use an informal tone and voice, though introduce some formality with sensitive or highly professional information.

Links, buttons, images and videos

Key takeaways:

  • Make sure users know exactly where a link will take them and hyperlink action-orientated words rather than using generic terms, such as ‘click here’
  • Use a call-to-action button when highlighting the most important action, and hyperlinks for secondary actions
  • Use images when relevant to the information and which don’t include text overtop
  • Use videos to create a personal connection or convey complicated information.