Writing Web Content in English

In a perfect world, every internationally active business would have a team of professional writers and translators or, even better, transcreation professionals to develop web content in English that effectively conveys their message to target audiences across different contexts and cultures. The reality, however, is that web content creation is often left up to internal staff, especially in the early stages when resources may be limited.

The following list provides 10 tips for writing better English content:

 

1. Be concise
People don’t read web content the same way they read traditional print. Users will generally scan and search web content for specific information, so keeping it concise is crucial. You may know the “KISS” rule (Keep It Short and Simple); let’s adapt that to “KISSER” – to include Engaging and “Real.” Write short English sentences, skipping unnecessary phrases (KISS). Include essential information early on to keep the reader interested (Engaging) and avoid jargon or overly technical language the reader can’t relate to (Real).

2. Front-loading
Front-loading means strategically placing essential information at the front of headings, sentences, paragraphs, links, lists, … This allows you to convey your core message quickly and prevents readers from getting bored.
– AVOID: 2021 was a big year for ACME, with sales of our units reaching an all-time high.
+ TRY: Unit sales soared at ACME in 2021
– AVOID: Register for our newsletter and win a new smartphone.
+ TRY: Win a smartphone by registering.

3. Use active voice
Meaning the subject of the sentence performs the action described by the verb. This structure is more concise and engaging. Passive voice focuses more on the action rather than the doer. Although this structure can also be used strategically, it tends to be wordier and more formal.
– AVOID: The data is analyzed by our team of experts within 24 hours. (passive)
+ TRY: Our team of experts analyzes the data within 24 hours. (active)

4. Use fragments
Complete sentences are not always necessary in web content. Using sentence fragments allows you to create more concise content and allows you to “front-load” statements with important content.
– AVOID: Scientists discovered a protein that is linked to depression.
+ TRY: Depression linked to protein, study shows.

5. Use links
Don’t overload your content by including overly detailed background information or research. Instead, provide a link for those readers who want to dive deeper into the topic. Again here, be sure to front load.
– AVOID: For the latest studies about autonomous vehicle technology, click here.
+ TRY: Advances in autonomous vehicle technology show…

6. Replace the verb to be
Review and, if possible, replace the verb to be (e.g., am, is, was, were, be, being, been) with a stronger verb. In some cases, the verb to be may the best option, but often there is a more expressive verb.
– AVOID: Our service is excellent.
+ TRY: We provide excellent service.
– AVOID: There are three aspects that make us different.
+ TRY: Three aspects set us apart.

7. Review modifiers
Modifiers (adjectives and adverbs) can strengthen a statement if precise but often only support vague nouns, verbs or adjectives. Precise wording needs no modification.
– AVOID: Very beautiful location.
+ TRY: Gorgeous location
– AVOID: Really good advice
+ TRY: Excellent advice

8. Replace prepositional phrases
To make your writing more concise, avoid prepositional phrases where possible.
– AVOID: Members of the board
+ TRY: Board members
– AVOID: The efficacy of the drug
+ TRY: The drug’s efficacy

9. Be objective
Readers want clear, meaningful facts, not tired over-used clichés or sales pitches.
– AVOID: Get more bang for your buck!
+ TRY: Increase volume by 20%

10. Read it aloud
Reading your text aloud ensures it reads well. In addition, it is an effective editing technique for identifying and eliminating potential problems.

A few useful links to improve your writing in English:

merriam-webster.com (Dictionary & Thesaurus)
ozdic.com (English Collocations)
grammerly.com (Grammar Assistant)
hemmingwayapp.com (Editing Tool)
readable.com (Readability Score)

© Dieser Beitrag ist urheberrechtlich geschützt [2018, ICS Internationalisierungscenter Steiermark GmbH].

Desiree Fuchsbichler
Business English Experts

A few useful links to improve your writing in English:

merriam-webster.com (Dictionary & Thesaurus)
ozdic.com (English Collocations)
grammerly.com (Grammar Assistant)
hemmingwayapp.com (Editing Tool)
readable.com (Readability Score)