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Writing for the Web

Keep it clear and concise.

Good web writing provides worldwide, non-stop marketing and supports a commitment to excellent communication — not just for the institution but every program, department, faculty member, club and event associated with William & Mary.

Be Succinct

Reading on the web is physically draining. You need to get to the point — and get there fast. Cut out unnecessary words. Stay away from convoluted phrasing. And keep sentences short when you can.

Keep the Important Info Up Top

Web users are on a mission to find the info they need — don't bury the good stuff. This can also improve searchability.

Avoid Web Clichés

When the web was young, and we were unsure whether people would get it, websites had a lot of directions and introductions that are now unnecessary. Some of the most common:

  • Welcome to the Benneton College Weaving Department Web Page.
  •  Click here to find out more!
  •  On this web page, you will find... Use the menu on the left... or Look below..., etc. 

Eliminating relative directions is especially important with our mobile responsive website. That item you're directing them to will not always be "on the left" on a phone or tablet.

Keep Your Content Readable

The average American adult reads at a 7th-9th grade level. While you may be confident that your audience is more advanced, don't make assumptions, and don't create unnecessary readability barriers. Not sure about your writing level? There are tools to help. One free option is the Readability Test Tool. Another is the Hemingway App, which highlights and corrects grammar, fluency, and sentence structure while providing readability feedback. 

Keep the Tone Conversational

You want them to read what you write. Formal language tends to be hard for readers to absorb — and it uses more words than are really needed. Certain areas of the site are more dignified than others (Academics and About versus Admission and Campus Life), but their style can still be warm and friendly.

Remember the Web is Nonlinear

Visitors might enter your site from a lower page or through Google, which means they'll need some context. That's why the Admission page has some general copy about the school, even though the About page also gives an introduction.