Since the advent of Desktop Publishing (DTP), writing has changed in immense ways. From websites dedicated to assignment experts, news, blogs that educate to digital marketing platforms, welcome to the 21st Century. We are always glued to smart gadgets such as smartphones, tablets and laptops browsing the web in search of product listings, fashion trends, celebrity news and among other hot topics. But, while this is a move in the right direction, especially regarding the pace of modernity into a future of artificial intelligence, traditional print is arguably here to stay.
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This post explores six ways in which writing for online media is different from doing so for print. But, before further ado, take note of a few things such as the following:
Purpose remains the same
Both online and print media do the same thing. They inform the public about daily happenings, not to mention columns in magazines and sections in blogs that aim to educate masses on wide-ranging societal issues. It means, while writing for the public is changing in many ways, the goal remains the same. A marketer, for example, would still want to pitch powerful brand stories that win hearts of prospective customers. In the same way, news writers spend hours on end doing research to come up with publications that are hard to forget.
Moreover, quality with which a news story, a feature or an advert is to be crafted remains an important objective in both approaches. It is important to give reasons a reason to keep coming back for more, part of which is making sure a post is free from grammatical errors, well-researched, niche-based, informational and well-formatted.
The differences between writing for the web and print
Thus far, let’s take a look at the many differences that define variations between writing for online publication and doing the same for print media.
Length of write-ups
While the length of a publication may depend on one’s creative flow and ideas worth putting down on a page, there is a significant difference between traditional print and online publication. Many things inform this variation, key among them is attention span. Studies show that attention span reduces by up to 30 percent when reading online as opposed to grabbing a copy of a day’s newspaper or magazine.
Moreover, people who take a leap into the web in search of stories often scan over pieces of information whereas those who buy journals or read books go deep into reading between the lines.
Because of these reasons and many others, online copies tend to be shorter in length, usually 1500 words or less. Whether it is web content, blogs or features, no one wants to scroll down a computer screen for ages. On the flipside, traditional print is always very length and can run into thousands of words covering hundreds of pages.
Use of Links
It is unfathomable to find a print publication asking you to ‘click this link’ to read more about writing quality web content. On the contrary, there is no way you are going to write for digital media such as websites without including links. In fact, it has become a common practise, a rule of the thumb, as a matter of fact. For example, links represent know-how of a writer who always recommends further reading, not to mention that they boot a website’s visibility to search engines.
Use of hyperlinks in web stories also serve as hooks as opposed to traditional print where a write must invest a lot of time, energy, effort and money quoting reputable researchers and organizations. Everyone who owns a website craves for attention and including links to their pages is one way they go about it.
Accountability for errors
You must have in several occasions, come across newspapers retracting stories in earlier publications to wade off criticisms for errors to avoid possible legal suits; writing for the web is very different. While you can quickly edit errors, tons of disparaging comments from readers may just throw you trade under the bus.
Tone of voice
Readers always look for stories crafted with the right tone. They want to feel part of them from the start to the end. Whether it is a self-help blog, recipe or general information, writing for mass audiences is always matched with the right tone. However, you will realize that traditional print pursues a more rigid approach than online. The latter often reflect a writer’s personality and brand.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO practises for winning digital publications have overridden significance of writing quality posts. Most people publish stories online to get more backlinks, ranking, exposure and web traffic at the expense of quality. While great content is king, it hardly reflects in most web publications. However, this is not the case with traditional print where a writer spends time, energy and money putting together well-research, top quality and useful stories.
Writing rules such as the 5W’s hardly apply to most online publications. If you are expecting to see a nut graph every time you bump onto a blog post, then big disappointments await. It gets worse when it comes to reading curated content which are basically interesting cut-outs from around the web. On the other hand, traditional writing has nothing to do with page breaks, curation and do not emphasize use of bullets for easy reading.