Writing for the Average Reader

WritingWriting Web content can be tricky, especially if you’re writing for customers who might not be entirely familiar with what you’re peddling. You obviously know a lot about the subject matter your writing, but that doesn’t mean your readers do.

Save industry speak for company meetings, and write content that is reader-friendly. Below are a few tips for filtering out the jargon.

Know Who’s Looking at Your Site

You might be writing for like-minded B2B buyers – the best merchant processing companies in the business who welcome backwards and inside-out writing, for example – in which case you can pepper in jargon a little more freely. But more often than not, you have to write for an audience that is not as hip to your industry’s jargon as you are.

The safest approach is to assume that your reader is at least somewhat new to the game.

If you’re writing about vehicle tracking GPS equipment, for example, your target customers might not be familiar with cellular versus satellite tracking, so either explain it simply or leave it out. If you’re concerned about oversimplification, link to a separate page with more detailed information.

Definitions can also be helpful. Many business websites include a glossary that site visitors can use as a quick reference.

Clean House

It’s nice to have a clean site with limited text, so long as you communicate the right message. Don’t dump content onto your page for the sake of taking up space. The more you write, the more tempted you become to drop in industry jargon. Use some discipline when writing, at least on your home page. As mentioned above, you can always include more detailed information on the subsequent pages.

Drop the acronyms

Unless the acronym is widely used outside of your industry (like NASA), just leave it out. Your readers might not be aware with certain organizations. If you have to use them, write them out on first reference – Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. And say what it does. “OSHA is a federal agency that sets workplace safety guidelines.”

Use common language for academic degrees, as well. Use “advanced degree” or “doctorate” instead of Ph.D., for example. You don’t want to send your readers to Google to find out what all those letters after a name indicate.

How Newspapers Do It

When you write content, think about how it might be presented coming from someone else. Newspapers are an excellent model for how to write content that’s not overly technical, since they must write for all audiences. Pick up a paper and flip to a science story, and take note of how they present information in a reader-friendly way – usually with anecdotes and relatable examples. Analogies are often a tool used by news organizations to make difficult subjects easier to understand.

Visit other blogs and sites similar to yours to see how they approach the same style of writing. But don’t get peer pressured into jargoning up your copy just because the other guy did it.

Bounce It Off of Your Friends

When in doubt, run your content ideas by your friends who have no affiliation with your industry. If you’ve stumped them, chances are good that you’re deep into jargon.

Whatever your approach is for writing website content, remember to go easy on complicated writing. The Internet is not a big word contest. If you have any suggestions for keeping out of the jargon weeds, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. tinafreysd says:

    To make your writing more useful to your readers, you can check the readability level of your writing with a simple Microsoft Word tool…

  2. Rashmi Sinha says:

    It is important to understand that not only people with experience are reading our blogs. There are ways to make it even more valuable for the average reader and this is an excellent guide for it. Thank you for sharing it!

  3. timely, superb, was just discussing something similar on my facebook page this morning. Just posted your link there as well and am getting ready to tweet this!

  4. writing naturally and for your targeted audience should be 1st priority, when creating unique content on the fly from scratch. Also, refrain from using big word that may somewhat intimidate the reader. This way, people will be able to clearly understand the content you’ve published, while building a meaningful and long-lasting relationship with the reader, which they’ll feel enticed to come back later to see new content you’ve published.

  5. Totally agree with your arcticle. when writing for your audience youneed to spell out everything in the simpliest terms

  6. I always visit new blog everyday and i found your blog.

  7. I was taught to write my articles at a grade 6 reading level. This is from the old days of journalism. But it holds true today, because people also conduct web searches on a lower “reading level”, if you think about it. I imagine that this can only help your SEO efforts!

    • writing articles at humble level on the World Wide Web is definitely a good thing, because the reader would not feel intimidated by you using big words in your articles.

    • That’s true because if someone is going to read your post to learn about something they’ll likely get to it by searching for what they want to learn about. If you only reference it as an acronym in your post they might not click on your site.

    • Glynis Jolly says:

      Exactly, Paul. Although sometimes you can go as high as an eighth grader level depending on the topic. Even though there are many people who have better that a high school education, there aren’t all that many who write above an eighth grade level.

  8. Totally agree with your arcticle. when writing for your audience you need to spell out everything in the simpliest terms so that they can easily understandable to every one

  9. Hey nice post I agree content have enough value but for writing great type of content you need to careful about uniqueness and proper grammar for you readers.I hope your that article is best for your newbie reader.

  10. Kathrryn says:

    Actually, there are a lot of articles and blogs that are very deep and only experts and professionals can relate and understand it.. But this idea can help..

  11. Writing is not just simple as counting 123, that’s why I am pretty amazed with their great creation…

  12. Hey nice post and I agree you need to focus on making things understandable for the base reader. I tend to have other non-subject matter experts read and provide feedback prior to publishing articles, etc.. It is sometimes quite frighting what can not make sence to others!

  13. I think in order to write the perfect content of the blog or the site you should know rather well the public or visitors of a site or a blog and the more you know the better. I agree with you that newspapers can be the best way to give you a hand what to write about. I usually stick to the point that any content should be simple and clear.

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  15. Florence18Moore says:

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    same time educate every single words been share…

  16. There’s a range of different techniques that are crucial to good blogging, but it’s not impossible when you really think about it. Keep your copy clean. Write in a user-friendly manner. Want to cut back on the jargon? Run this in the background of your mind as you write: is this a word or concept that I knew when I was just getting into the industry? If the answer is “No, I had no flipping idea what that meant back then,” you’ve got some explaining to do. Either define the term in a simple way, or drop it. Most of the time, you don’t have to write a term paper or C++ for a blog post. Sit down, stretch your neck, roll your shoulders, put your fingers on the keys, write for fellow humans.

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