The internet is a far different from the traditional print media when it comes to news reporting, storytelling and educating. Writing for print can be a very complex task and is much more formal in most cases than web writing. The web is a much more informal environment than print, and the writing needs to be done in a fitting manner. There are many elements of writing for the web that are different than print writing, and for some good reasons.
An informal style works better on the web than formal writing does, generally speaking. For news articles and press releases, this may not be the case, but if you have a website or a blog, giving it a personal touch will make your readers feel that much more in tune with you. If you write stuffy, boring stuff that people don't want to read, they'll simply click on over to the next site that has interesting topics and an easy-to-read format.
The internet carries with it a sense of urgency. Everyone that uses the internet uses it for the speed and the immediacy of being able to obtain information. You need to present your information to them in a suitable manner, to demonstrate that you understand their needs for information and to get it fast. While newspapers and print texts are about learning and perusing, the internet focuses more on getting information across as quickly and efficiently as possible. Think about this when you're deciding how to write for the web.
Another important difference in the process of how to write for the web is the words that you use. When people search for things, they need to see the words they're looking for, known as keywords. By writing your articles using these keywords to catch the attention of the reader and the search engine agents, known as robots or crawlers, you're performing a type of writing known as SEO, or search engine optimization focused web content writing. This makes your articles easier to find and draws the reader in because they can scan the article and see the words and phrases that they were looking for.
The web is a busy environment, hence the need for active content instead of narratives and passive writing. To write for the web is to write active pieces that relay information while also helping people to take the next step, such as reporting on auto insurance rates, and then encouraging them to do something about their own auto insurance. The majority of the content on the internet is geared toward getting people to do something. If someone reads an article in their local newspaper about conserving energy over the winter, they'll want the paper to print active steps they can take to help themselves. The same applies for web writing. If you are going to share information about a topic, be prepared to inform people about other things they can do or active steps they can take to get involved with that particular topic.
More and more people read information on the internet merely for informative purposes. But why stop there if you don't have to? If you can get their curiosity roused to learn more about that topic, or even a different topic completely, you can get them involved in other website elements such as buying things, getting different quotes, and checking travel sites for their vacation plans. It's all parts of advanced web development. You have to plant the seed so that they can get more out of your web writing than just an informative piece of information.