After reviewing the top 10 web writing tips in our book Interact with Web Standards, I was reminded of how important rule number 5 really is. “Write killer headings” is the the rule. When writing your headings remember that task-focused readers don’t actually read. They scan. Also headings are not the place to be clever in your play on words, be clear. Lastly use keywords as much as possible without taking away from the flow of your content, this will allow maximum findability when user are searching for related sites.
I found a good descriptive take on this subject in an article from 4 Syllables.com titled Headings and labels: accessibility for web writers, part 10. Dey Alexander the writer of the article, also touches on the fact that people with disabilities really benefit from descriptive heading as well. People suffering from short-term memory lost and vision impairment can’t get the information quickly for a noted overview of what is to come in the content. The writer also has a list of 9 very good tips on how to write better headings for the web.
- Clearly describe the content or purpose of the page or article in the main heading
- Write sub-headings that describe, summarise or clearly label each part of the page or article
- Avoid teasers or cute, catchy phrasing that may not be clear to all users
- Use keywords or keyword phrases, particularly in the main heading
- Avoid jargon, acronyms and other shortened forms unless they are familiar to your target audience
- Start headings and labels with distinguishing information, so those who only see or listen to the first few words can distinguish it from earlier and later headings
- Take care using questions as headings as they can push distinguishing words away from the start of a heading
- Be concise. Headings that wrap to a second line may be harder for some users to see or understand
- Write in sentence or title case. Uppercase may be harder for some people to read
Another good article that I found focused on the copywriting of headlines. The article title How to write headlines that work can be found at copyblogger.com. The writer of the article, Brian Clark, talks about headlines in web possibly being your one and only shot to hooking a prospect reader. He says that great headlines can do more than just grab ones attentions, if your good you can communicate a full message that would lure your reader into the text. The promise of some reward or benefit to the reader is the essence of a compelling headline. The write sets out a list of eight tested headline catergories that have shown a take in action by the reader and an increase in sales.
- Direct Headline- Pure Silk Blouses – 30 Percent Off
- Indirect Headline- Fresh Bait Works Best
- News Headline- Introducing Flickr 2.0
- How to Headline- umm… oh yes…
- Question Headline- Do You Close the Bathroom Door Even When You’re the Only One Home?
- Command Headline- Put a Tiger in Your Tank
- Reason why Headline- Two Hundred Reasons Why Open Source Software Beats Microsoft
- Testimonial Headline- “I Read Copyblogger First Thing Each Morning,” admits Angelina Jolie