The Online Journalism Handbook: How to Write for the Web

Posted on January 24, 2018 By newswala Topic: Media, Onlinejournalismhandbook, Blogging, Usability

A guide written by the pioneering usability experts Jacob Nielsen and John Morkes famously said this in 1997, 12 years ago:

Make your writing concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective.

A summary of the article:

- Users want to search for things online.
- They hate waiting.
- They read from left to write in a 'Z' fashion.
- Most readers scan over headlines without bothering to read the article.

So, you got less than a second to get the reader's attention.

"... any story can be told in 800 words"
- Roy Peter Clark, senior journalist,
This is as good a guideline for online writing that you can get anywhere.

More important observation on online user behavior Jacob Nielsen's highly useful site is as follows, but I suggest you jump to each link and read for yourself in detail:

- Users spend 4.4 seconds for every extra 100 words on a page.
- Eye tracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.
- You can use passive voice in headings.
- Contrary to popular opinion, long articles may work , if they have something of value, are divided into short paragraphs with descriptive paragraph headings and augmented by lists, charts, and photos.i
- Write in an inverted pyramid style: start with the conclusion and put the least important data lowerd down.
Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words that users will notice when scanning through your article in a "F" shaped pattern.
- The first two paragraphs must state the most important information.

Bighow distils the daily news that is important to you, why you should care, and what's next.

The Success Manual 250 Skills Made Easy

The Success Manual Career Advice Bible