The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

BASIC Principles for Online Content


Whether you are an author, editor, publicist or marketer writing for the web is different than writing for print.

The BASIC principles of Online Journalism identified by Paul Bradshaw in a five-part series for his Online Journalism Blog provide useful guidelines. Here’s a summary:

  • BREVITY: Most people struggle to read long documents on a screen so break lengthy articles into ‘chunks’. Keep paragraphs succinct and focused on one idea.
  • ADAPTABILITY: Writers must be adaptable because websites utilize a range of media in addition to text. Information and content must be  adaptable so that they can be easily re-purposed by the reader or another writer.
  • SCANNABILITY: Reading word-for-word is rare online and most web users scan pages looking for headlines, subheadings, and links that help them navigate the text on screen. Scannability also improves your accessibility.
  • INTERACTIVITY: Think about how you can give control to your readers.
  • COMMUNITY: Learn how to join communities and engage in their conversations. Persuade people to join your networks by organizing and informing them.
  • CONVERSATION We’ve moved from lectures to conversations. Moreover, “the distinctions between conversation and publishing in an online medium are being eroded. Everything that we say is recorded, linkable, distributable. Conversation is publishing.


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