Web-writing tip #1: Scannable copy

Random best practices for writing for the web. More to follow as they occur to me (or I see massive fails on my web travels).

1. Present copy in easy-to-scan sections (a.k.a, “Chunking” copy)

Despite what you may hear about people’s web-reading habits changing, it’s still generally true that users don’t read big blocks of text — they skim them hoping to get the gist. Make that easier by breaking in-depth information into quick paragraphs that are focused on a single point.

Then group those quick paragraphs into well titled sub-sections, with a clear headline that explains what it is about. It’s usually smart to avoid clever subtitles because users don’t want to take the time to puzzle cute-but-meaningless headers (This post could be called “Write Right,” for instance. which wouldn’t make what it’s about very transparent).

For more on this topic–lots, lots more–check out Jakob Nielsen’s Use It website.