The writing process I was used to for print writing had to change.
This quarter, I am working as a web site intern for the OSU Department of English. My work involves finding new topics for feature articles, research and interviews, and writing and editing articles for publication on the Department of English web site. This internship is exactly what I was hoping for, in terms of being able to write often, but I quickly learned that I was writing for a different audience than I was accustomed to.
My approach to writing has changed in a few key ways. I have had to keep a more specific audience in mind, rather than a general audience. People have the ability to search for topics of the narrowest scope online, so this is more important now than it has ever been.
Most online readers will simply scan longer articles or look for shorter ones to read. When people are searching web sites, they want quick and easy-to-digest information. Introducing the facts and throwing out fascinating nuggets is important in gaining a reader’s attention.
Writing short concise paragraphs separated by white space makes it easier reading for the audience as well. They are then able to read each blurb and take it in before going to the next one without feeling overwhelmed by a text-heavy document.
The arrangement of the paragraphs must also follow a specific pattern. When readers search online, they look for enticing headlines and descriptions. In putting my articles together for the web, I had to be mindful that the reader would only see the first 319 characters as a description. I only had those first couple of sentences to write my hook. That was going to be what made a reader click on my article. This meant sometimes rearranging the entire piece to put the most exciting or informative part of the article first so it would grab the reader’s attention.
I now know that in every feature I write, employing these changes, while also adding multiple visuals such as pictures, charts, graphs, etc., will keep the reader engaged for the duration of the article.
No matter what profession I enter into after graduation, clear and concise writing will be critical. But I know that I will be even further ahead of the game due to my ability to communicate main ideas and write efficiently, especially in regards to new world of digital media.