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Indigitous Sessions: Justin Stowell teaches writing for the Web

On Tuesday, Cru Brand Manager Justin Stowell hosted an Indigitous Session on Writing for the Web. It was a great, informative Session with tons of useful information whether you are a seasoned writer or someone who just throws up content onto a blog every now and then. You should really watch the entire Session below, but I will briefly touch on some of the tips that Justin went over in much more detail.

Make sure your content is scannable

This is probably the biggest mistake that Web content creators make. If your writing is for a novel, play, short story, essay, thesis, or research paper, you only need to make sure that the content is engaging and of a high quality. If you’re writing for the Web, however, you need to contend with the short attention spans that people display on the Web and make your content friendly to those who just scan the material.

Justin pointed out that readers view Web pages using an F-shaped pattern. The further they go down the page, the more likely you are to use them. That’s why you need things like sub-headings, pull quotes, photos, and video to grab their attention and keep them scanning. Users read only 20% of what is on the page, so you need to draw attention to your Web content at various points in order to get them to read (hopefully this tip is part of the 20% that you read).

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Grab people’s attention (You like these subheadings? I take Justin’s advice seriously)

There is more content created on the Web in 48 hours than was created in all of 2003, so your ministry’s Web content has a lot of competition. You need to grab attention with photos that are high quality and engaging as well as headlines that are concise but tell the reader exactly what the article will be about (no coy titles on the Web!). Bulleted or numbered lists are also great ways to grab attention… Wait, let me try this again and give you content that you are more likely to read:

5 ways to make your Web content more readable

  1. Use subheadings to break up long text
  2. Use pull-quotes to highlight interesting sentences
  3. Use high quality photos that create an emotional response
  4. Cut through the noise with an attention-grabbing title that gives an accurate picture of the content
  5. Use bulleted or numbered lists

Make your content shareable

Person to person sharing is the most successful and influential form of marketing, so you need to create Web content that people will want to share. But what makes content shareable?

Instead of just laughing at Buzzfeed, learn from them

Instead of just laughing at Buzzfeed, learn from them

  1. It’s timely. Posts relating to holidays or other current events are highly shareable.
  2. It’s relevant. What is something that people are already talking about? Do you have a take on that topic?
  3. It has a catchy title. Samuel L. Jackson famously said that the only reason he agreed to act in Snakes on a Plane is because it was called Snakes on a Plane. Many people viewed it for the same reason.
  4. It has a catchy image. The images are what you notice first when scrolling through Facebook and other social media. A catchy image will make your content more likely to be shared and more likely to stand out.
  5. It has a unique topic. If you have something to offer that no one else does, those with whom the topic resonates will be happy to share it with others.
  6. It has a unique angle. If everyone is talking about a certain topic, can you approach it from a different angle?
  7. It helps people learn something quickly. This is what makes those lists so popular. People can learn without having to put much time or effort into the content.
  8. Self analysis. Which Disney princess are you? Of course you want to know. And you want all of your friends to know as well.
  9. That’s me. Including people in your content, by embedding their tweets, tagging them in photos, and more, makes them want to share with their own networks.
  10. Audience specificity. If you have content that caters to a narrow niche, that niche will eat it up and be happy to share it.

There is so much more I could go into, but that would violate one of Justin’s suggestions of keeping the post short. He says that posts should be no more than 500-750 words. This post is currently at 752 words (and counting) so I will stop now. For more information, view Justin’s Indigitous Session on Writing for the Web.



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