In this post, Writers Write will show you six lessons from the world’s top websites.
The internet is a big sandbox.
We play around websites, and build our own. We share the web, but also need privacy.
Amazon, Facebook, and Google rule the roost. These sites get millions of hits each day.
What makes them work? What sets their content apart?
Good writing is more than stories or books. Good writing also applies to sites.
Here are six lessons from the world’s top websites.
6 Writing Lessons From The World’s Top Websites
1. Amazon’s Angle
Amazon is the world’s largest commerce site.
The site sells it all, from shoes to cell phones. If you want to order one onion, just visit Amazon.
Amazon also runs Amazon Web Services, a cloud for hire.
Amazon is powerful, but they still had a humble start. First, the site only sold books.
The Lesson: If you don’t see success yet, change your angle.
A next draft (or rewrite) could make old ideas take off as brand new.
2. DuckDuckGo’s Simplicity
DuckDuckGo is a simple search engine.
While other sites track user activity, this search engine doesn’t.
Each search result is unique. DuckDuckGo does not advertise around your keywords.
Users will never see ‘Fridges For Sale’ after a search for ‘Vanilla Ice’, for example.
Now read the first page.
DuckDuckGo is about more than privacy.
Can you spot what makes them popular?
The Lesson: Simple copy sells.
Write to be understood. DuckDuckGo uses simple copy on its site. They are clear about what they do: We don’t track users.
Always use simple terms.
3. Facebook’s Interaction
Facebook is the social network to rule all networks.
If you don’t have a Facebook account, you are harder to find. Without a Facebook page, your business is difficult to search.
Facebook is, simply, huge.
But what drives Facebook?
Think about the answer first.
Why do you, or anyone else, open Facebook?
We want to interact and engage.
The Lesson: Engage your readers.
Writers can’t be two-dimensional.
A story, post, or book must always feel like the writer connects with someone.
We write (and read) for the same reason we visit Facebook: engagement, interaction, escape.
A writer should also get their hands dirty: interact. Respond, talk, and be a three-dimensional writer.
4. Instagram’s Character Limit
Instagram is one more social network, but more visual than others. Companies, influencers and celebs flock to Instagram in their millions.
Instagram shares photos, with a short caption.
When a picture says a thousand words, the picture still needs words too.
The Lesson: Say it with less.
The magic of Instagram is visual and written.
Successful posts are a stunning image, but with the right words. Instagram, like Twitter, has a short character limit.
Say it with less.
It is something writers should practice.
Cut sentences, slice paragraphs, and see if you can preserve the key message.
As an exercise, describe an approximately 1, 000 word feature in one sentence.
5. LinkedIn’s Tone & Style
LinkedIn is made to connect people and companies. While it’s still a social network, it’s made more for networking than anything social.
Companies and people visit it for professional connections.
Look at LinkedIn’s tone, and compare it to any other social network’s timeline.
Do you see anything different?
Look closely, and think about it.
The Lesson: Always use the right tone (and style) to write.
The tone and style of LinkedIn is what’s different, compared to other sites like Facebook or Instagram.
A writer doesn’t use the same tone everywhere.
Business writing is formal, where social networking’s tone is relaxed.
When writing, use the right tone (or edit until you have it).
6. Netflix’s Blurbs
Netflix is an online streaming service, made for movies and shows.
If you want to escape, be entertained, or learn about plots, spend time on Netflix.
The site isn’t just all visual.
We don’t judge stories by their covers. We judge them by their blurbs.
The Lesson: Write a great blurb.
A blurb is an incomplete summary.
Descriptions (or blurbs) are informative. They tell us more, without telling us everything.
Content services like Netflix have to turn descriptions into views.
Great descriptions can make average movies look better. Bad descriptions make good movies look worse.
Choose five movies you love.
Now, describe each movie with a 100 word blurb.
Describe them well, and then describe them again (but badly). Learn to write better blurbs, and you will write better at anything.
The Last Word
Good writing (and bad) is everywhere if you pay attention. Websites, billboards, and the backs of cereal boxes. A writer should read and analyse it all.
In this post, Writers Write showed you 6 lessons from the world’s top websites. Now use them!
By Alex J. Coyne. Alex is a writer, proofreader, and regular card player. His features about cards, bridge, and card playing have appeared in Great Bridge Links, Gifts for Card Players, Bridge Canada Magazine, and Caribbean Compass. Get in touch at alexcoyneofficial.com.
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