The best books on writing for the web

Henneke Duistermaat Author Of How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking Up More Customers
By Henneke Duistermaat

Who am I?

In 2012, I escaped my corporate job to found Enchanting Marketing. I had discovered I love writing and I love teaching people how to write even more. I help small business owners and solo flyers find their voice and share their ideas with gusto, so they can captivate, educate, and inspire their audience. I created this list with 5 book recommendations as a mini-course on writing for the web. There’s little overlap between the books; they all complement each other. Happy reading and happy writing! 

I wrote...

How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking Up More Customers

By Henneke Duistermaat,

Book cover of How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking Up More Customers

What is my book about?

This practical book takes you through a 6-step process to write your own web copy. 

I decided to write this book because I found that many coaching clients struggled with the process of writing their own website copy. How do you go from a blank page to a persuasive website? None of the books on the market seemed to offer this kind of advice, so I wrote this book. This is more a workbook than a textbook. Each chapter includes one or two assignments, helping you plan, write, edit, and optimize your web copy so you can convert more website visitors into leads and customers.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Why did I love this book?

This is the book that taught me how to write for the web. It’s essential reading if you want to engage web visitors and lower bounce rates. Web visitors are in a hurry. They’re not reading a web page like they’re reading a novel. Their reality is closer to racing passed a billboard at 60 or 70 miles an hour. 

Krug explains how we can write for such hurried readers so that we can offer them the right information at the right time and capture their attention, so they want to learn more from us, about us, and about our products. 

By Steve Krug,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Don't Make Me Think as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since Don't Make Me Think was first published in 2000, hundreds of thousands of Web designers and developers have relied on usability guru Steve Krug's guide to help them understand the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. Witty, commonsensical, and eminently practical, it's one of the best-loved and most recommended books on the subject.

Now Steve returns with fresh perspective to reexamine the principles that made Don't Make Me Think a classic-with updated examples and a new chapter on mobile usability. And it's still short, profusely illustrated...and best of all-fun to read.

If you've read it before, you'll rediscover…

Content Design

By Sarah Richards,

Book cover of Content Design

Why did I love this book?

Content design is about creating content (not just written content but any type of content, including maps, infographics, and images) that best serves users’ needs, and it’s key to getting found and read online. 

This short guide in plain English features many examples of how to create content that pulls readers towards a website (rather than just pushing content outwards). I especially like the chapter on the science of reading as well as the chapter on job stories and user stories.

I love how practical this guide is. It’s written by someone who’s clearly been knee-deep in the trenches of content design. 

By Sarah Richards,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Content Design as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 2010 and 2014, Sarah Richards and her team at the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service did what many thought impossible: they took over 400 separate government websites and transformed them into a single site designed to effectively serve its users. In doing so, they defined a new discipline: content design.

Content design isn’t graphic design or just copywriting under another name. Content design focuses on what content best serves the users’ needs, whether it be the written word, infographics, visuals, videos, or charts.

At the core of content design are the needs of the users—and this means determining what…

Book cover of The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters

Why did I love this book?

This book is a comprehensive guide on copywriting and selling by a legendary direct response writer. It’s not specific to writing for the web but covers the basic principles of persuasion such as how to sell on emotion and help people justify a purchase with logic. It also includes many useful writing tips such as how to write the first sentence and how to sow seeds of curiosity to keep readers engaged. 

I’ve probably highlighted more quotes in this book than in any other book on writing. Highly recommended! 

By Joseph Sugarman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Adweek Copywriting Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Great copy is the heart and soul of the advertising business. In this practical guide, legendary copywriter Joe Sugarman provides proven guidelines and expert advice on what it takes to write copy that will entice, motivate, and move customers to buy. For anyone who wants to break into the business, this is the ultimate companion resource for unlimited success.

Book cover of The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand

Why did I love this book?

A lot of what we write online are explanations. In blog posts, we explain our ideas. In sales copy, we explain how our products or services help make our customers a little better. 

This book discusses the common pitfalls of explanation, and it teaches you how to really explain something so your readers feel enlightened. 

Lee LeFever is probably best known as the co-founder of Common Craft, where he wrote scripts for animated explainer videos. However, the advice in this book is equally applicable to written explanations. Improving our explanation skills is key to writing better online.

By Lee Lefever,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Explanation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Your guide to becoming an explanation specialist. You've done the hard work. Your product or service works beautifully - but something is missing. People just don't see the big idea - and it's keeping you from being successful. Your idea has an explanation problem. The Art of Explanation is for business people, educators and influencers who want to improve their explanation skills and start solving explanation problems. Author Lee LeFever is the founder of Common Craft, a company known around the world for making complex ideas easy to understand through short animated videos. He is your guide to helping audiences…

Book cover of Valuable Content Marketing: How to Make Quality Content Your Key to Success

Why did I love this book?

For writing online beyond your own website, I highly recommend this book. It presents both the big picture and the nitty-gritty of content marketing for small businesses.

What I like about this book is that the authors understand that as a small business, you can’t do everything and be everywhere. So, choose where you want to be and create content that captivates, educates, and inspires your audience.

By Sonja Jefferson, Sharon Tanton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Valuable Content Marketing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER: Small Business Book Awards 2016 - Community Choice - Social Media Category WINNER: Small Business Book Awards 2014 - Community Choice - Marketing Category (1st edition) Make sense of content marketing in the digital world with this award-winning, practical guide to using content to grow your business and raise your brand. From websites, white papers and blogs to tweets, newsletters and video, content is king in the digital world, now more than ever before. Get it right and you have a huge opportunity to connect with clients and customers in ways they appreciate and trust - they will be…

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