Writing with Reader Habits in Mind

As many people know, it is important to write with the targeted reading audience in mind but did you know that you should also consider the writing medium? There is a vast difference between writing for print and writing for the web and it all boils down to the different reading habits in the different mediums. In short, traditional print is read carefully and highly scrutinised whilst online text is skimmed through before the reader rushes on to another article.

Traditional Writing

Imagine reading your favourite magazine. You might be curled up in a comfortable chair with a nice cup of tea next to you. Perhaps your snoring dog is lying at your feet. This is your time and you carefully flip through the pages until you find an article that catches your interest. Are you reading quickly and skimming through the text? I very much doubt that. Instead, you are probably taking your time and letting your mind consider every word that has been written. This way of reading lets the writer explain things thoroughly and he or she can afford to build long arguments and is also expected to do deep research.

Writing Web Content

The situation is different online, so forget the peaceful reading that you had in that cosy chair. It turns out that very few actually read online content linearly, instead they are rapidly scanning through articles. Large paragraphs are skipped by the reader, cited sources are copied without any deeper thought and misplaced links might lead the reader on to another website.

In practical terms this means that web articles should be written in a different way compared to the printed equivalent. First of all they should be short and concise, at least 50% shorter than the printed version. Secondly, they should have clear headlines and short paragraphs. A third tip is to write a summary of the article in the introduction, very much like I have done in this text.

It is also wise to do SEO analysis so that the article has the best possible opportunity to rank high in search engines.