A Horse of a Different Color: The Changing Voices of Web Content
Most of us probably remember the horse of a different color from “The Wizard of Oz.” One moment it was green, and the next, bright red. Well, web content is a bit like that fabled horse. Each of the different types of writing has a distinct personality and requires a style and voice all its own. If writing web page content is part of your job description, you’ll need to know all the different types of horses you’ll be herding, and recognize just how to make the most of each of them.
- Press release – This is the workhorse of the web content world. He’s steady, strong, and a solid, no-nonsense brown. A press release needs to pique the interest of news outlets if it hopes to be picked up by them, but has to do so with verifiable facts, not sales language or hyperbole.
- Tweet – This little beauty is a bright pink carousel pony, spangled with stars and sparkles. Meant to be fun and bouncy, a Tweet is usually a bit irreverent. And, just like the little toy horse at the carnival, a Tweet is small, just 140 characters in length, and that’s counting spaces and punctuation marks.
- White paper – A white paper is a stodgy, gray plow horse. Some people may think he should be put out to roam the pasture, but he still has a job to get done. White papers are serious, nearly academic-quality articles that need to be clear and authoritative. Their intention is to help the reader solve a problem, understand an issue or reach a decision. But that argument must be made with hard cold facts and old-school attributions, including, according to the Purdue OWL writing lab, a list of cited works .
- Blog post – Think of a blog post as a pony at a birthday party. A sweet, speckled Shetland. Party ponies, like blog posts, are fun and not at all formal. They toss their pretty heads and make people laugh, and no one takes them too seriously. They’re also easy to take care of because, being small, they don’t take up very much room.
- Article – An article is a sleek, chestnut race horse: modern and readable, but with a touch of class. It’s also fast. The frenetic pace of the internet puts a lot of demands on our attention. Webpage articles need to be quickly scannable, or readers lose interest. This means short, easily digestible paragraphs and eye-leading headers speeding us toward that finish line.
- Product description – This is a flashy black trotter. A real looker with head held high and polished hooves flashing. His every move says, “Look at me!” A head-turning pretty boy, he’s all about conservation of motion; no wasted words for this guy. A product description is succinct and evocative, just like the clipped, high-stepping gate of our trotter.
So, there you have it: the low down on all the different types of web content. And, if you haven’t already guessed, as a freelance writer, you’ll sometimes need to be a horse of a different color yourself. “How?” you ask. Just stand ready to change your voice and style as needed for each assignment you tackle.
Kate C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.