When writing for the web, you should consider many factors, such as audience, concision, and usability. Follow these tips below for when you begin writing content for your website.

Understand your audience

Will your website be used more by prospective students, current students, or faculty and staff? Know who you’re talking to and what they want to know when visiting your site. The tone and language of your content will depend on and be determined by your target audience.

Be clear and concise

Web readers want to locate information quickly and easily. Avoid using long, drawn out sentences or paragraphs filled with jargon. Create brief, direct, and informative content.

Create content that can be skimmed and scanned

Readers want to consume information by browsing—using quick glances with brief stops. Most web users will use your website as they would a billboard—traveling 60 miles an hour expecting to receive simple, concise information.

Write telling headers and teasers

Headers and teasers are present throughout the entire JMU website to help highlight content from your website. Use these fields to draw readers to your site and provide a preview of what your audience can expect from your content. Most teasers are limited to 256 characters, so you will need to be descriptive yet concise.

Use sub-headings when possible

Sub-headings provide a way to break up long blocks of text. It makes content easier to scan and will help your website meet ADA guidelines. See "Heading Styles" to learn more about using effective headings.

Write with active voice

Writing in active voice develops clear, conversational, and engaging content that creates a direct and energetic sentence structure. Passive voice is sometimes necessary but should not be used excessively as it creates dull, flat, and confusing content.

Create valuable links

Links create a pathway to a worthwhile and logical location. If additional information exists on another website, create a link to it instead of re-creating content. Links within your page should be short and concise with a clear destination. Use around 3 words to execute your link; they should always be descriptive of the link destination, rather than using "click here."

Check spelling

It seems obvious, but giving content a last glance for spelling errors is often overlooked. Be sure to proofread content before publishing it for the world to read.

Implement "alt" attribute tags

"Alt" attribute tags are the alternative texts that pop up when a user scrolls over an element that will not load on a webpage. Alt tags help provide a better user experience for your audience ensuring they won’t miss sections of your website. When using the alt attribute, you want it to fulfill the same function as the content it’s representing. See "Image Best Practices" to learn more about creating effective alt text.


For guidance on Being The Change writing style, please consult the Identity Guide.

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