10 Golden Rules for writing for the web
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10 Golden Rules for writing for the web

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If church and Christian organisation websites were people, what would they speak and sound like? Clear, engaging and interesting? Or ambiguous, verbose and confusing? This presentation borrows tips......

If church and Christian organisation websites were people, what would they speak and sound like? Clear, engaging and interesting? Or ambiguous, verbose and confusing? This presentation borrows tips and techniques from fields as diverse as marketing, psychology and the good old schoolroom to bring you 10 golden rules to help you sharpen your website's text.

This presentation was given at Create 2009, a conference geared to help Christians be more creative and professional in using technology and design to promote the gospel.

It's quite general, and intended for a broad -- rather than technical and industry-knowledgeable -- audience.

More in: Technology , Education
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  • 1. Ben Crothers | 14 Nov 2009
  • 2.  I am a user experience designer/ business consultant  I really enjoy helping churches online/anything 2.0/painting  Work: PTG Global as a Senior Consultant  Blog: catchmedia.com.au  Twitter: @bencrothers
  • 3.  Format:  Landscape, not portrait  Not linear, but jumping around with links  Interactive, animation and show/hide effects  It takes time to download  People have more control over the format
  • 4.  Behaviour:  Cognitive load as we go from 'page' to 'page': Will this link go where I expect it to go? Do I have time? Will I change direction? Go back?  We scan rather than read, in an 'F-pattern'  We are (even more) fickle, impatient, task-focused
  • 5.  Think about the real intent of your content  Avoid clichés and phrases that don't actually mean anything  Avoid acronyms and proprietary words that may confuse and alienate  Sermon, worship, justification, non-Christian  Get someone else to read your content
  • 6.  Cut your text in half  Use shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs  Avoid the 'padding' content, e.g.  Welcome messages  Overly-long instructional text for online forms
  • 7.  Think about the reward for the reader in reading your content  Know your audience and decide who to grab first  Use keywords that resonate with your audience (but maybe not you)‫‏‬  Be bold, be exciting and excited, be honest, be real, be confident
  • 8.  Could there be a different way to present your message, other than a title and five paragraphs of text?  Like a billboard?  Like an IKEA catalogue?  Like a chart?  Like a packet of biscuits?
  • 9.  Replace or remove old content  Make sure the home page looks different week-to-week, or at least month-to-month  Update content  Randomly-selected items of content  Write new blog posts
  • 10.  It is worth it, it does matter, people do notice and it does reflect better on your church/organisation  Why? It distracts from the message in the content itself  Mind your it's and its  Separate, not seperate  One idea per paragraph
  • 11.  It is worth it, it does matter, people do notice and it does reflect better on your church/organisation  Why? It distracts from the message in the content itself  Mind your it's and its  Separate, not seperate  One idea per paragraph
  • 12.  It is worth it, it does matter, people do notice and it does reflect better on your church/organisation  Why? It distracts from the message in the content itself  Mind your it's and its  Separate, not seperate  One idea per paragraph
  • 13.  Use plenty of subtitles  Short paragraphs  Bulleted lists  Priority of messages: make the most important message/call to action the most prominent  Chunk and simplify your information, with links to more detailed information if necessary
  • 14.  Use magazine layouts as inspiration...
  • 15.  Twitter:  Make those 140 characters count!  Punchy lead-ins for links: good  Making it personal and different: even better  This post just changed how I pray! http://bit.ly/KM096GY  Leave room for others to retweet  Use hashtags, like #createconf
  • 16.  Blogs:  Make the headline count! (50/50 rule)‫‏‬  Read this or the puppy gets it!  Top 10 reasons why...  What I didn't know about Jesus  Use subheadings within the post to tell the story:  “I used to mock Christians”  “Then He showed up”  “Now by God's grace I'm planting my third church”
  • 17.  Blogs (continued):  Front-load your post with the key pieces of information  Start with the conclusion  The include the rest of the vital details  Then expand on detail
  • 18.  You may be the expert, but you may not be the best person to write the content  Delegate and share the load, if you can  Assign one person to take charge of gathering all content from all content-providers  Endorse this person and their job  Content workflow: who writes, reviews, edits, approves and publishes  Content schedule: new content every month?
  • 19.  Easier for writing content  What 'boxes to fill in' rather than blank canvas  Easier for gathering content from others  Makes content consistent
  • 20.  Easier for writing content  What 'boxes to fill in' rather than blank canvas  Easier for gathering content from others  Makes content consistent
  • 21.  Ben Crothers  Blog: catchmedia.com.au  Twitter: @bencrothers