- By Robert Starr
- Published 06/17/2008
- Writing for the Web
Someone once said that the invention of the Internet was the most innovative thing that has happened to the professional writer since the creation of moveable type. There’s no doubt that after a shaky start a decade ago, web content is here to stay as a juggernaut that twists and turns as it evolves through the exorbitant professional writer rates that were charged and the cheap overseas copy that was found in the end to actually turn business away. Like any other transformation, the writer who makes his/her living from the web needs to shed some of their old beliefs and attitudes to keep up in this new world. Statistics show that the average office worker spends about thirty hours a week looking at a computer screen. And although computers have made it easier to share and pass along information, reading from a monitor has proven itself so far to be less effective than paper. Because of the slight flicker that’s present with monitors and the fact the resolution is a little harder on the eye, the experts have been able to ascertain that reading from a screen is 25% slower than paper.
So this means that the professional writer will have a different set of criteria
they need to address when they’re writing for the Internet; because they’re up against a medium where people find it more laborious to read off their monitors and they tire out more quickly, the adaptable writer comes to the conclusion that they must somehow adapt their style to this new wave of progress. At least one of the ways to do that is by shoring up on the tenets of good old fashion journalism and cut the fat from everything you write. Get to the point. Be brief and concise. These have always been the trademarks of anything that’s well written anywhere, but these adages take on an added urgency when you’re dealing with a standard where the professional writer will have on average nine seconds to hook someone’s attention before they click away. While every word always counted back in the days where all our information came on paper, the amount of avenues that allow readers to get the same input different ways has increased exponentially with the Internet forcing writers of all kinds to sharpen their skills.
However, while writing for the Internet should be anything but bland, there is an apparent lack of tolerance for self-indulgence present at the same time. The best content seems to follow the rules of all good writing and be factual, clear and lean.
Robert Starr is a professional writer/editor with several published books and a degree in journalism. He’s brought 20 years of experience in the craft to his own online writing/editing service. You can reach him at robstarr.org
by Robert Starr