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Before you start writing

Who is your audience?

Whenever you are writing, you should be writing for your audience. Who are they?  

  • Patients?
  • Students?
  • Children?
  • Experienced professionals in a particular field?

So first - research your audience. Find out about them. What are their particular needs or concerns? Keep in mind the people who will know least, whatever your audience. Then write for them.

Understand online behaviours

Most people ‘scan and skim’ online before deciding to read an article. They pick out headings or lists and look for clues on whether a page matches what they are looking for. There is a place for long form articles, but we have to earn attention first.

Young people ‘read’ even less. They are likely to skip a page if they don’t see what they are looking for – even if it is there. You won’t have their whole attention - young adults are likely to multi-task on their smart phones. (27% of 18-34s engage in at least 5 online activities while commuting; but only 9% of over-35s do so).

What technology are they using?

More than 6 in 10 of our own web users are on mobiles and this number is climbing. Half of our mobile users are using an iPhone (Google Analytics for www.nhsggc.org.uk May 2019).

In 2017, a quarter of adults (26%) went online only through devices other than a computer. 

For older adults in the UK (75 years up) 7 in 10 now use a smart phone in some way. (OFCOM)

How does this affect writing?

We need to write for small screens. This means short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.  Most of our audience will give up instantly if offered long blocks of text.

 
Text still has real advantages over video and audio. It is quick to load and doesn’t consume large data allowances for our audience. Text is effective for assistive technology such as screen readers.

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