Make your digital content clear by answering the What and Why first

By Caitlin MacDougall

Writing quality digital content is about more than just dropping keywords liberally through a text. In order to keep a user engaged, content creators need to answer several questions. Everyone has heard of the 5 Ws in journalism. Arguably, the two most important questions you need to answer while writing for the digital media are the What and the Why.

What –getting the information across

The reason you’re writing that article or text is to share content that you believe is worthwhile for the user to know. This is the What. The reader wants to learn more about this topic, and you need to answer this quickly and concisely to capture their attention.

Whether you are trying to convey product information, a sales pitch, event details or trivia, clearly identifying this content is a top priority. If the user can’t figure out what the content is about, they will quickly leave.

As Scott Cross discussed in the first CBUS111 class, your content must be linked to your business strategy. Your What must deliver the primary message (the single most important thing they should know), and the secondary messages (key points that support the primary message).

Your content successfully answers this question when the primary and secondary messages are quickly identified during the review process and when users take up the call to action.

Why – the intent of your writing

Digital content creators also need to convey the Why, the intent of the message clearly for readers. The Why is the reason you care about the content and why your reader should too. Writers should ask themselves what they want to achieve with their content and why it is important to share.

Take a look at a text you have created. Take out the raison d’être and it becomes less compelling. Content needs to have a purpose and fill a need. Asking yourself why you are writing this content throughout the process provides a clearer message to the reader.

Success is measured by answering the question, “what do you want to achieve?” throughout the creation process (Redish, Chapter 2 of Letting Go of the Words).

Other important questions to answer

Of course not everyone may agree that What and Why are the most important questions to ask while writing digital content. The other Ws (Who, When and Where) and How are also all questions to be addressed.

Do you agree that What and Why are the most important questions to answer while writing digital content? Let me know in the comments.


One thought on “Make your digital content clear by answering the What and Why first

  1. Concise and clear. Really good use of subheads. Nice referencing the class and Redish book. Great idea asking readers for their opinion on the ‘what’ and ‘why’! I picked ‘what’ and ‘who’, but I find that they are all so interconnected that it was hard to choose. Nice read.
    – What, Who, Where, When, Why and How-ard


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