When it comes to writing for the web, nonprofits often fall into the trap of 1) writing too much, 2) using too much jargon, and 3) writing at a reading level unsuitable for the web. The result is content that is difficult to read, fails to engage the intended audience, and, ultimately, missing the mark.
Sometimes, nonprofits fall into the trap of writing too well. While there is nothing wrong with producing high-quality writing, writing for the web needs a different approach. The goal is not to impress the reader with your writing skills, but to communicate your message as clearly and concisely as possible.
Where Nonprofits Miss the Mark
One key reason you may struggle with writing for the web is because your organization is used to writing content for brochures, newsletters, and annual reports. In these mediums, there is more room for detail, complexity, and nuance. However, on the web, attention spans are shorter, and users are more likely to scan content than read it in full.
Another reason? You may use insider jargon and acronyms that are unfamiliar to the general public. While it may make sense to use these terms within the organization, they can be a barrier to understanding for those outside the organization. Remember, you spend everyday thinking about your mission and message. Your readers do not.
Tips for Better Web Writing
So, what can you do to improve their web writing?
- Consistently write at an eighth-grade reading level. Remember, that the goal is not to “dumb down” the content, but to make it accessible to the widest possible audience. By writing at an eighth-grade level, nonprofits can ensure that their content is easily understood by the majority of web users. Technology can help with this task. The Hemingway App can help you achieve the appropriate reading level. This app analyzes your writing and provides suggestions for simplifying the language, shortening sentences, and eliminating unnecessary words. By following the app’s suggestions, you can create content that is more accessible and engaging for their audience.
- Focus on the needs and interests of your audience. This means putting yourself in the shoes of the reader and considering what they are looking for from your organization. Are they seeking information about your programs and services? Do they want to learn more about the impact of your work? By understanding the needs of your audience, you can create content that is more relevant and engaging.
- Use storytelling to communicate your message. People are naturally drawn to stories, and they can be a powerful tool for engaging your audience and conveying the impact of your work. By sharing stories about the people you serve, the challenges they face, and the solutions you provide, you can create a more emotional connection with your readers and inspire them to take action.
Finally, it is important to remember that web writing is an ongoing process of experimentation and refinement. It is rare that you will create perfect content on the first try. Instead, it is important to frequently evaluate your content, gather feedback from your audience, and make adjustments as needed. By adopting a mindset of continuous improvement, you can ensure that your web writing is always engaging, relevant, and effective.
Nonprofits often struggle to share their message through web content because of a few easy to correct missteps. By making a few tweaks and embracing new web tools, you can create web content that is more accessible, engaging, and effective. With practice and a commitment to continuous improvement, you can master the art of good web writing.
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*AI helped us draft this blog post.