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Writing for the Web



A short course on how to improve your writing for web pages.

A short course on how to improve your writing for web pages.



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Writing for the Web Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Online Writing Skills 18 March 2010 Department of Justice
  • 2. Who am I?
    • Digital Strategist,
    • Strategic Communications Branch
    All things social media
  • 3. I’m also...a world traveller
  • 4. ...a snowboarder
  • 5. B.Com Graduate
  • 6. Writing for online It’s the that matter words
  • 7. Today
    • PART 1: What’s so special about the web
    • PART 2: Our audience
    • PART 3: Thinking about writing
  • 8. What’s so special about the Web?
  • 9. A website does not work in straight lines.
  • 10. Users are active!
    • When you write for a website, you are competing with millions for the attention of the user.
  • 11. Anytime, anywhere
    • Users expect the information to be updated
  • 12. Make your identity clear
  • 13.  
  • 14. Lessons so far
    • 1. A website does not work in straight lines
    2. People go to the Web for a purpose 3. There are millions of sites competing for users attention Lesson : Every part of your site must explain itself and its relationship to the whole Lesson : Think of what the user is hoping to get from your site rather than what you want to say. Lesson : tell the user what you are offering straight away and be clear about it
  • 15. Part 2
    • Our audience
  • 16.
    • Part 2
    • Know your audience
    • Speak to them in their language
    • Understand what they want
  • 17. So who’s online in Australia?
    • Average Australian internet user spends 17.6 hours per week online
    • Internet is the preferred source of information, has best access to opinion and is the most trusted source of information.
    • Heaviest users of the internet:
    • 16 to 29 years (22 hours per week)
    • 30 to 49-year-olds (18.2 hours per week)
    • Over 50s (15.5 hours online per week)
  • 18. More and more Australians are using the internet to deal with government Australians' Use of and Satisfaction with e-Government Services - 2007 - Department of Finance and Deregulation
  • 19. 3 x more likely to deal with government online than all other ways
  • 20. Cater for all different types of user
  • 21. So who’s the user?
  • 22. Writing with the reader in mind
    • Speak their language & solve their problem
  • 23. Why are they coming to DOJ?
  • 24. Speak to them in their language FAIL
  • 26. Use standard register Formal Informal OMG LOL
  • 27. Formal : In discussions yesterday, the Federal Cabinet focused on the formulation of amendments to workers’ compensation legislation Standard : Cabinet ministers yesterday discussed how to word changes to the laws on workers compensation . Informal : Yesterday, Canberra pollies worked on the new comp.
  • 28. (more) lessons so far 4. More and more Australians are using online to connect with government 5. Speak to them in their language when communicating online Lesson : Use everyday language and get rid of jargon Lesson: You need to know your audience 6. ...But good business writing still applies Lesson : Write in the standard register
  • 29. Part 3 : Thinking about writing
    • Concise
    • Scannable
    • Pyramid Writing
  • 30. Be concise!
    • TIPS
    • Cut unnecessary words
    • Use a shorter word over a longer one
    • Cut unnecessary phrases
    • Use the active voice
    • Try writing it on your iPhone!
  • 31. Use active voice I threw the ball. You are making too much noise. Ben will eat popcorn and watch a movie tomorrow evening
  • 32. vs. Passive voice I threw the ball. You are making too much noise. Ben will eat popcorn and watch a movie tomorrow evening The ball was thrown by me . Too much noise is being made by you. Tomorrow evening, popcorn will be eaten and a movie will be watched by Ben.
  • 33. Use active voice
    • Sentences are usually shorter.
    • More direct communication style.
    • Bring actions to life.
    • Less ambiguous than the passive voice
  • 34. It only takes users 4 seconds to assess whether your page is what they are looking for
  • 35. Scannability Users don’t read your content word for word
  • 36. Using the f-pattern
    • Use headings and bullet points to make your content scannable
    • Most important information goes at the TOP of the page
  • 37.  
  • 38.  
  • 39. Help! I’m writing a really long text
  • 41. Emphasis
    • bold
    • italics
    • underlining
    • coloured text
    • block capitals
    Use carefully. Only use for legislation or publication titles. Don’t use – people will think it’s a link . Don’t use online – it can difficult to read. DON’T USE – IT’S LIKE SHOUTING!
  • 42.
    • The DOJ Writing Style guide
    • Found on J-Net at: DOJ Style guide
    • Use it!
  • 43. Final lessons learnt
    • Lesson: Use the active voice
    Lesson : Take advantage of the F-pattern and break up your content Lesson : structure inverted pyramid writing 8. Users scan pages rather than reading every word 7. Because information is limited to the screen, be concise 9. Most important information should go at the top
  • 44. Summary steps
    • Ask yourself...
    • 1. What is the purpose of this page?
    • 2. Who is it for?
    • 3. How will you break it up into easily scannable text?
    • Remember to use meaningful headings, bulleted lists and links.
  • 45. Thank you
    • And remember…
    • Your website is only as good as its content