Thursday, August 31, 2017

Why You Should Write to Be Scanned

Writing for the printed page and writing for the computer screen bare no resemblance to each other.  The difference is actually a physiological one, paper doesn't flicker unless it's set on fire.  If more light is required when reading, the simple thing is to switch on another light or move closer to the window.  Computer's are vastly different, they flicker all the time, this is commonly called the refresh rate.  Usually the most monitors are set too low by default, by aiming another light at your computer screen will only produce more glare.

Simply put, this makes reader's eyes more tired when they read the screen from a computer monitor.  This makes people more careful and read faster.  Before computer's become common place, people would spend hours reading letters and newspapers.  Thanks to the speedy internet people spend less time looking over articles, unless they're reading something really entertaining.

So what is the best way to write for a computer screen?

Write scannable content - Write for people looking for particular information.  Make the information easy to find.

Write lists - People love lists, theses usually begin with small marks or numbers at the beginning of each line.  If you're a technical piece, consider each step in order and use numbered lists instead of bullet points.

Write shorter content - Make your point quickly using the inverted pyramid style of writing, this is usually used by a reporter.  (See Inverted Pyramid below).

Don't leave your customers hanging with a long winded glowing sales pitch containing your price and how to order.  Instead provide the information immediately within your content, otherwise you risk your potential customer going somewhere else.

What you need to know about the inverted pyramid

This writing style was developed by journalists in the newsroom for reasons totally immaterial today... or not?

The principle of the inverted pyramid is to make your most important points at the top of your article, then followed by your next important point, in dwindling order of appearance.

Still used by newspapers today, historians think it was invented by 19th century wartime reporters, sending their stories by telegraph.  They wanted the most compelling information to get through first, in case their transmission was hindered.

So now more than ever, in our busy world make sure you give your readers their meat quickly, before they get hampered down by impatience, confusion, boredom and interruptions.

Decide what your main point is before you start writing something, tell them what they want to hear!

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