Content pollution

Imagine yourself in a roadside café for a coffee interview with your potential boss. You hear music playing, cars honking and passer-by talking. In the midst of all noise, you miss the important message from your potential employer. How do you feel? Bugged, right? That’s how users feel when they don’t get the important message on your website because it’s hidden by redundant details and excessive word count.

This is what I call content pollution. Never heard of this before? You may have heard ‘information pollution’ then. Information pollution is the contamination of information supply with irrelevant, redundant, unsolicited and low-value information . However, I call it content pollution to be specific with web content.

Simple rule for web writing thus says, ‘Less is more’. If there’s some information users don’t need, don’t waste their time by writing it on your web page. Your best bet is to say less, but communicate more.

This is where web writing differs from print writing. How many web authors understand this difference though? Some? Or if not, how many apply the rule? I come across so many web pages everyday that give me an impression, “This is not for you! It’s for some high-school English teacher”.

So, how do you stick to the real essence of your information without much blah blah?

Style guide: To have a consistent tone delivered across your web writing, you should follow a style guide at all times.
Tentativeness: What you think adds clarity to the writing can add ambiguity. ‘Kind of’, ‘probably’, ‘sort of’ are such words. You don’t need them, right?
Redundancy: I’ve seen many web authors using ‘in this article’ in their writing. When you read such thing, are you not on that article already? ‘In my opinion’ is another one. If you’re the author, doesn’t it imply to the reader that IT IS your opinion? Are such phrases needed at all? Perhaps no! Think of all such redundant words/phrases and get rid of them. By doing this, you not only come to the important message quickly, but also reduce the word count of your writing. Remember, less scrolling leads to better scanning. [Redundant terms/phrases are a big list and I’m planning to dedicate a post on these :).]
Language: Don’t use too many pronouns. This improves content clarity and its search optimisation.
Use direct language and stay away from technical terms and jargons. Jargons and industry-specific languages cloud the important message adding ambiguity.

I definitely want to add more here because there’s plenty. But let me reserve some for my next post on ‘content pollution’. Till then, follow these to strengthen your writing and build reader confidence.