In the fast paced world of online media, it is essential to grab the reader’s attention early on. Words cannot afford to be wasted during the crucial first paragraph, so rather than describing an event in chronological order the rules of the ‘inverted pyramid’ should be observed. This means conveying the article’s most important information during its early stages, ideally within the first or second paragraph, even if this information occurs relatively late on during at event. In other words: cut to the chase.
While purchasing and reading a newspaper is a very deliberate act, scanning through an article on a mobile phone is often far more spontaneous. When someone buys a newspaper they are committing to reading it almost from cover to cover to justify the financial outlay; there is usually no such commitment made when browsing the vast expanses of the internet for something interesting to read during a short train journey to work.
Ideally a strong lead supplies the reader with useful information that encourages them to keep reading the rest of the article. Bland information that is unlikely to grab the reader’s attention should be kept until later on in the piece, although this information should still be included if it helps add substance to the article.
But remember: hook your readers early on with a killer first paragraph, or they’ll never make it to the end of what could be a well written and interesting online article.
© 2013 Envoca