First words matter most. Whether you’re writing your own web page, or sending in a notice, the first words are the most important. [First published November 2006.]
Web page hot spots
When people visit web pages they quickly skim to find things of interest. If they are experienced users of the web they will probably ignore any ‘banner’ shaped areas, such as the header logo and graphic and skip straight to the content.
First they look at the top left area of text, and along the first line. Next they skip down the page a bit and glance about half way across the page. Finally they skim down the left edge of the text, glancing at the headings as they go. This reading pattern resembles the shape of an upper case F. No one starts at the top of a web page and carefully reads the whole thing.
Make it fast
You’ve probably just lost your readers if your web page starts slow, with long introductory greetings and background information. The rest of the Internet is only one click away, and the truth is your readers want the goods now. Right now. They will leave if they haven’t found out what your web page is about within the first couple of seconds.
Hook in your visitors
Put the crucial information first, to hook in your visitors. The first heading or sentence is the place to put the single most important item of information.
In headings, summarise other important content, again with key words first.
Use informative words at the start of bullet points.
The title and the first sentence of the notice itself are the most important parts of notices you submit to CommunityNet Aotearoa.
Make titles explicit
The title of your notice should be able to stand alone. Rather than just Conference, write Adult Literacy Conference, or Maori Health Workers Conference, for example.
First sentence suction
The first sentence of your notice appears on the summary page and is your only chance to catch the visitor’s interest, pulling them in to read the rest.
Boring: The Society for the Preservation of Online Content was formed in blah blah blah … blah blah blah fundraising event.
Suction: Fundraising concert brings big name talent.
Think for a minute about what’s most important, before you write your next web page or CommunityNet Aotearoa notice. Put the important words and phrases first. Leave the background for later.
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, November 2006. This article may have been modified from the original.