_writing for the web

Adding value to your site and keeping visitors coming back


1. Improves Search Engine Optimisation

2. Creates an engaging site with a reason for visitors to keep coming back

3. Allows for curated shopping… the Editor can pick out ‘Best Buy’ items from the store

4. Syndicated content. You can sell your content onto partners or offer it for free in exchange for a link

5. Improves the value of your brand


1. Consider adding user-generated content (UGC) onto your website – it allows for debate. This is particularly effective if it’s unmoderated (see Penguin Black Classics example; note also that your liability for libel or defamation is reduced if content is unmoderated).

2. Write provocative editorial and invite comments from your visitors.

3. Invite guest bloggers to contribute. This works particularly well if the bloggers are journos. If you give them the chance to write about whatever they want then you can often get the blog for free.

4. Think about including extracts from books in exchange for a link to buy the book.

5. Social bookmarking – post article headlines on Facebook and Tweet them


In the Penguin Black Classics example, user-generated content was seen to be a good thing. As it was unmoderated, readers would leave their honest opinions. But even if this was negative, other readers would contribute to balance the debate. In this kind of space, where debate is about truly great literature, user-generated content works. But this isn’t always the case and research has shown that the credibility of the BBC has been damaged by user-generated content. Downing Street has not done so well from user-generated content either after its online petitions initiative in which visitors decided to petition for a new prime minister.

espares exampleAll you can do is create a space online where people can come together – a “social moment”, if you will – you cannot make people go there and you should be careful about governing what they say when they get there. A stale site will atrophy in six months if you don't get it right.

However, it’s a common fact that people want to share knowledge and so if you can give them the opportunity to share their wisdom they will. A great example of this is a website called espares. It sells spare parts for out-of-date products – a knob for a cooker, a shower mixing tap – but it includes a great comments section. People who have obtained the spare parts are happy to share their knowledge with everyone else. They give advice on how best to fit the spare part or whether something else would be better for the job. The website has created a space for these people to come together and share their knowledge and it works.





“Web users ultimately want to get at data quickly and easily.
They don`t care as much about attractive sites and pretty design”
- Tim Berners Lee

People aren’t reading online. They scan and skim and move across great swathes of the internet.

Reading online activates a different part of the brain. Like the difference between taste and smell, our brain’s strategy for dealing with a website is different to that of approaching a magazine or book as we interconnect words and visuals.

Visitors scan until they find what they’re after. Research has shown that they scan in an ‘F’ fashion – the F Plan. That is, they sweep across the top of the page from left to right, then their eye drops down and they scan again from left to right, but this time not so far right. Then their eye drops down a bit more. At some point they will find what they’re looking for – the “destination” point and either read or print it.