3 ways to make your printed information work online

Create web-ready content from printed informationKeeping your website relevant often calls for a regular stream of up-to-date information.

If you are busy producing printed material, one of the easiest ways to ‘feed’ your web pages with the content they need is to copy material over directly from your leaflets, brochures, books or other print-based media, right?

Wrong.

Content that has been written for use offline isn’t always suitable for use online – unless some key changes are made. These changes will make your ‘new’ web content user-friendly; in other words, just right for your web audience.
Here’s how to make these changes – also known as re-purposing content for the web:

1) Less content means more value

Reducing the overall amount of content you re-purpose for your web pages is always a good idea. If you aim to reduce the content by about a third or a little more, you are well on your way to producing pages of web content that web readers will benefit from.

We read more slowly online and are less inclined to want to read through a long expanse of screen-based text.

2) One page = one topic

There will be times when it simply isn’t possible or practical to publish a piece of print content on a single web page. One option is to divide the copy up into more than one page so that each web page covers only one topic.

Dividing up your content in this way is a very good approach to managing all of your web pages.

3) Break up your web pages

Your web stats will show you that most visitors to your website don’t spend very long on individual web pages. And when presented with huge blocks of text and long sentences, most of them will be tempted to switch off, or worse, not read any of it at all.

Make your web pages visually appealing and easy to read by using:

  • bullet points for key ideas and/or lists
  • subheadings for sub-topics
  • spacing around headings and between paragraphs
  • textual effects such as bold (but sparingly)
  • images for illustration and to add interest or a context

Subheadings act as great visual signposts that online readers use to quickly get to the information that is of interest.

When reading online content, most web users skim and scan pages – in other words, they don’t read every single word from the top to the bottom of the page. Subheadings help them to skim and scan through to the information they want.

White spacing around headings and between paragraphs helps visually by reducing the feeling of page clutter, and making it far easier for those visiting your website to get to the information they need without feeling overwhelmed by the volume and density of the text.

Now your content is web ready!

Post written by DEBBIE THOMAS on 23 December 2010.