Being ‘Succinct’: Why it Matters When Writing for the Web

Being able to express ourselves clearly and in the shortest possible time-frame is always a helpful skill to have in communication, yet when it comes to creating content for the web the ability to write succinctly becomes much more critical.

This can be challenging as a service-provider keen to differentiate your product, but in the era of online content, less is nearly always more.

Digital Reading Is Different

For one, people read differently on screens than on paper. The eye is trained to skim the page and words are processed at a rate 25% slower online than in hardcopy. Your online content should reflect this. Succinct writing will allow you to cut your text volume by the ideal 25% without forgoing the necessary impact.

Get The Attention – And Keep It!

With the many visual distractions that accompany any web-based format, content-creators are now grappling with a shortened attention span that makes large blocks of text deterring for the viewer, especially when there are so many other places they could be looking!

Succinct writing accommodates for the fast-paced reality of internet-browsing, offering an effortless (and therefore positive) visiting experience that will set you apart from your competitors.

Fast-Track To The Answer

With so many competing services available online, you need to get your point across quickly. Being able to speak effectively and efficiently to a customer’s needs means they are more likely to explore what you have to offer without being side-tracked by other more accessible alternatives.

In this case, ‘succinct’ writing means getting straight to the heart of what your visitor might be looking for in terms they understand. Providing a clear and concise solution can be a great way to showcase expertise in a way that appeals to a client’s confidence and convenience.

Distribute The Detail

Where elaborate explanations or context is necessary (and sometimes it is), there are ways to disguise the length of your text.

  • Links – they quickly direct the viewer to the exact information they are looking for without overwhelming them with too much content all at once. If you have a lot of explaining to do or context to provide, consider breaking that content into a series of shorter pages linked together to avoid overloading your reader.
  • Paragraphing – keeping your paragraphs short, between 2-4 sentences, can help make your writing more digestible for a viewer no matter how long. By breaking down the text into smaller parts, you can offer the illusion of succinct writing and make a visitor more willing to engage with your content.
  • Highlighting – suits the typical scanning-style with which our eye reads web-pages by drawing our attention to specific details. This can be a great way to convey a message quickly and with impact, as while making the reading experience easier for your viewer.

See this example from The Writing Cooperative:

Being ‘Succinct’: Why it Matters When Writing for the Web

Remember – browsing, not reading

If ever you need another reason to embrace succinct writing, think about the language that surrounds web-browsing. As an online service provider or content-creator, your page is looking to attract ‘visitors’, ‘browsers’ or ‘viewers’, not ‘readers’. Those accessing your content will allocate only a limited amount of time and attention to assessing whether or not your offering is right for them, so it’s important to engage them quickly.

Writing that is succinct – clear and brief – will attract a visitor’s attention by not asking too much of them.