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Writing for the web 2010
 

Writing for the web 2010

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Writing for the web workshop with some exercises and samples

Writing for the web workshop with some exercises and samples

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  • Colour can evoke emotion, establish mood and create themes. Today most websites base their colour schemes on their branding. Usually three colours maximum with lighter shades – any more colour dilutes emphasis and gives too much of a rainbow appearance which can be perceived as unprofessional or childish.
  • Colour can evoke emotion, establish mood and create themes. Today most websites base their colour schemes on their branding. Usually three colours maximum with lighter shades – any more colour dilutes emphasis and gives too much of a rainbow appearance which can be perceived as unprofessional or childish.
  • Visual appeal can be assessed within 50 milliseconds , suggesting that Web designers have about 50 milliseconds to make a good impression. If the user thinks the Web site looks good, the impression translates to other areas of the site, like its content. Since people like to be right, Lindgaard reasoned, they will continue to use a Web site that made a good first impression.”  
  • `Your brand’s online persona is your first impression to potential leads or clients. And first impressions count a lot in cyberspace. Study after study demonstrates that web surfers have notoriously short attention spans. If you fail to capture someone’s attention – or, worse, if you’re pegged with a negative association off the bat – odds are you won’t get a second chance to make your case. An exhaustive 2007 study commissioned by the Ponemon Institute found that over 50% of employers use the web to check out applicants. Another cross-industry study showed that more than 33% of clients will research prospective partners using simple Google and Yahoo searches – and this percentage seems to be on the rise. Furthermore, data shows that Internet first impressions may be extremely sticky. In other words, once your company or brand has been tainted with negative associations via the search engines, your online reputation management strategy may be hobbled , perhaps fatally. - http://www.evisibility.com/Online-Reputation-Management.html
  • `Your brand’s online persona is your first impression to potential leads or clients. And first impressions count a lot in cyberspace. Study after study demonstrates that web surfers have notoriously short attention spans. If you fail to capture someone’s attention – or, worse, if you’re pegged with a negative association off the bat – odds are you won’t get a second chance to make your case. An exhaustive 2007 study commissioned by the Ponemon Institute found that over 50% of employers use the web to check out applicants. Another cross-industry study showed that more than 33% of clients will research prospective partners using simple Google and Yahoo searches – and this percentage seems to be on the rise. Furthermore, data shows that Internet first impressions may be extremely sticky. In other words, once your company or brand has been tainted with negative associations via the search engines, your online reputation management strategy may be hobbled , perhaps fatally. - http://www.evisibility.com/Online-Reputation-Management.html
  • Visibility of system status : The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time. Match between system and the real world : The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order. User control and freedom : Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo. Consistency and standards : Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions. Error prevention : Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action. Recognition rather than recall : Minimize the user's memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate. Flexibility and efficiency of use : Accelerators -- unseen by the novice user -- may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions. Aesthetic and minimalist design : Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors : Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution. Help and documentation : Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user's task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.
  • What does disability include? Disabilities range from mild limitations (like temporary backache) to more severe levels, and types include: mobility pain agility hearing seeing psychological learning memory speech developmental Additional considerations include: an aging population arthritis sufferers visual implications (including colour blindness) reading levels and literacy temporary loss of mobility technical barriers
  • Avoid fragmented sentences.
  • Because of these differences, the headline text has to stand on its own and make sense when the rest of the content is not available. Sure, users can click on the headline to get the full article, but they are too busy to do so for every single headline they see on the Web. I predict that users will soon be so deluged with email that they will delete messages unseen if the subject line doesn’t make sense to them. at a variety of tips offered around the web on writing effective titles for your articles to see what they recommend. “How To Write Headlines That Sell” by Justin Schultz highlights four purposes a “great” headline must serve in order to be successful: * Get attention. Your headline must capture attention. 75% of Ads in the Sunday newspaper are skipped because they don’t grab the reader’s attention. * Select the audience. A great headline should call out to a very specific audience. If you’re selling life insurance to people older than 65, there’s no sense in generating inquiries from young people. In the same way, an ad for a $55,000 sports car should shout out “This is for rich people only!”. * Deliver a complete message. According to David Ogilvy, 4 out of 5 people will read a headline and skip the rest of the ad completely. If this is true, it pays to make a complete statement in your headline. That way your headline can do some selling to the 80 of readers who read headlines only. * Draw the reader into the body copy. Most prospects require a lot of information before they make a purchase. That information appears in the body copy, and for the ad to be effective, the headline must compel your prospect to read this copy. Some of these situations are very out of context: search engine hits can relate to any random topic, so users don’t get the benefit of applying background understanding to the interpretation of the headline. The same goes for email subjects.
  • Because of these differences, the headline text has to stand on its own and make sense when the rest of the content is not available. Sure, users can click on the headline to get the full article, but they are too busy to do so for every single headline they see on the Web. I predict that users will soon be so deluged with email that they will delete messages unseen if the subject line doesn’t make sense to them. Some of these situations are very out of context: search engine hits can relate to any random topic, so users don’t get the benefit of applying background understanding to the interpretation of the headline. The same goes for email subjects.
  • In an article by Shelley Lowery of Web Design Mastery on Two Spots called “Secret Formulas for Writing Headlines That Sell” , the psychological issues of headline writing is discussed: Before writing your headline, you must first learn a little bit about the basic human motivators. According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, human behavior is always the result of one or more of five basic needs. He listed these needs in a sequence that he refers to as “the hierarchy of human needs.” He believes that until a less important need is met there won’t be any desire to pursue a more important need. Below are the five human motivators, beginning with the basic needs and continuing to the most important needs. Physiological - Basic human needs include hunger, thirst, shelter, clothing and sex. Safety (Security) - Human need for physical, emotional and financial security. Social (Affiliation) - Human need for love, affection, companionship and acceptance. Esteem (Self Esteem) - Human need for achievement, recognition, attention and respect. Self-actualization - Human need to reach their full potential. When you are aware of the basic human needs, you can incorporate these needs into your writing. A great headline will appeal to your potential customers’ emotions. You must feel their needs, wants and desires and write your headlines with passion and emotion. 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work Meryl.net - Five Tips for Writing Eyeball-Grabbing Headlines Dustin Diaz - Why Headline Writing for Web is Important Your Press Releases - Make your headlines hook the reader when writing a press release Stanford School of Medicine - Public Web Services - How to Write and Use Headlines Michel Fortin - The Truth About Mega-Headlines Leon Kilat - The Cybercafe Experiments - Improving Blog Headlines Lessons Learned Offline Robin Good - How To Write Great Titles And Headlines For The Web How To Write Effective Headlines - About Desktop Publishing Copy Desk Resources - Tips for Good Headlines World Copywriting - Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Headlines 5 Simple Ways to Open Your Blog Post With a Bang
  • The William Allen While School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s article, “Making an Impact - Accurately” , focuses on the grammar and structure of an effective headline: Use the active voice: Effective headlines usually involve logical sentence structure, active voice and strong present-tense verbs. They do not include “headlines.” As with any good writing, good headlines are driven by good verbs. Number, please: Numbers often go against AP style in headlines. For example, you may start a sentence with a number and, even though that number is below 10, you do not have to spell it out. Present tense, please: Use present tense for immediate past information, past tense for past perfect, and future tense for coming events. Punctuation normal — mostly: Headline punctuation is normal with two significant exceptions: Use periods for abbreviations only, and use single quotes where you would use double quotes in copy. “ And” more punctuation: The comma, in addition to its normal use, can take on the work of the word “and.” On rare occasions, the comma also can indicate the word “but” (but, if used that way, be very, very careful, ensuring that the reader has a clear understanding that’s what the comma means. The semi-colon is better for the “but.” Even better is to use the word “but.”) Poynter Online’s Guide to Writing Headlines emphasizes a different aspect of headline writing: 1. First, do no harm: …Have some empathy. Imagine that the subject of the story is your neighbor or a family member. One person’s cleverness is another’s ridicule. Petty-crime stories are a minefield. 2. Make sure the big type does not contradict the little type. 3. Use humor or cleverness to invite readers in, not drive them away. 4. Stay away from cliche: …Unless–and there are exceptions to every rule– you can find a way to turn a cliche on its head. Some very good heads are upended cliches. These work. 5. Use plays on words to contribute to meaning, not to show off. 6. The last rule is to ignore all of the above if you have a good reason …Good reasons, however, are typically in short supply.
  • Try the 8 second test – have someone view the page for the first time for 8 seconds then ask them what they think the site is about – you may be surprised Page titles (title tag written in the head of your html and appears in your browser title bar) should be between 40-69 characters (Google) Have user friendly URLs (ideally the url should be easy to remember and reference so avoid complex folder systems or if dynamic, don’t return more than 3 parameters) Write about 250 words per page which will enhance search engines’ efforts to index Be more specific in writing your headings (e.g. not Our Office but Our Toronto Consulting Office) Have keywords in main body content and throughout the site – top to bottom; in headlines and sub-headings; in call to action links Have 10 phrases for your site, each phrase should have two or more words Maintain context – put words in link so search engines know what the link means and it will also look at text around the link to ensure it is in context (so not just a page of links, and please, no “Click here”) Use your own search engine to test key words – if your site isn’t promoting your key words then how can the search engine find them…? Write good headings and people will remember them. Users misspell words in over 10% of queries (tend to go to spammers) and 50% of users will still click on a misspelled response – therefore develop a strategy for misspellings (good example see About.com ) Cross link within your own site by indicating links to similar or related content Use a 301 redirect – which Google likes (The W3C guidelines for a 301 "permanent redirect" say that this is for use when a page has been permanently moved and you want people to record the new address in place of the old one - read more on redirects on SearchEngineWatch .); use it when changing URLS; is dynamic; It is normal to dip in traffic when change URLs (code example: www.beyondink.com/301-codes ) Use 404 pages - Page not found error (The 404 or Not Found error message is an HTTP standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with the server, but the server either could not find the file that was requested, or it was configured not to fulfill the request and not reveal the reason why. See wikipedia for full definition ) – Search engines will index them so use keywords on them and customize them so they keep your navigation that way people are more likely to stay on your site (see A List Apart for coding a 404 error page ) Use robot.txt to block internal search pages or repetitive pages (like printable versions) so search engine doesn’t think pages are redundant or doing something suspicious Search engines like PDFs because they are text based; they can be added to site map and should be added under a publication page (but not if you have an html version) Create an information architecture that includes key words (Most costly Search Engine Optimization mistake is a bad IA; IA represents 80-85% of usability)
  • Content that is syndicated is often seen as objective & therefore more effective in aiding the buyer in their purchasing decision

Writing for the web 2010 Writing for the web 2010 Presentation Transcript

  • Writing for the Web Workshop 2010 By Catherine Elder
  • Content
    • Reading Online
    • Difference between Online and Print
    • Information Design
    • Design to improve messaging
    • Reputation and Credibility
    • Usability and Accessibility
    • Writing for websites
    • Technical aspects of writing
    • Exercise
    • Getting Read – engaging users
    • Headings that work
    • Optimization and linking
    • Website best practices
    • Measuring and evaluating your site
  • Reading Online S T R I C T LY C O N F I D E N T I A L
  • How we read on the web
    • 79% of readers scan pages
      • People scan better when information is broken into chunks – using headings to breakup text
    • We read screens 25% slower than paper
    • Print material should be condensed by 50% when being put online
    Sources: Nielsen Norman Group; Sun.com
  • Readable web pages
    • Web pages that are written for the web - 50% less then paper equivalent, create these improvements:
      • Tasks performed 180% faster
      • 89% fewer user errors
      • Usability rated 159% better
      • Subjective satisfaction increases 37%
    Source: www.Sun.com
  • Reading Levels
    • The Flesch Reading Ease Scale (The higher the rating , the easier the text is to understand):
      • 100: Very easy to read.
        • Average sentence length is 12 words or less; no words of more than two syllables .
      • 65: Plain English.
        • Average sentence length is 15 to 20 words; average word has two syllables.
      • 30: Pretty difficult to read.
        • Sentences will have average 25 words; average word is at least two syllables.
      • 0: Extremely difficult to read.
        • Average sentence length is 37 words; average word has more than two syllables.
      • Source: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch_Reading_Ease
  • Reading Levels
    • The higher the rating , the easier the text is to understand
    • How to view readability statistics:
      • Paste content in Word
      • Under “Tools” select “Spelling & Grammar”;
      • Click on “Options” and ensure that “Show Readability statistics” is checked and click “OK”;
      • Conduct spelling and grammar check
      • Readability statistics will appear in popup when completed
    Page: Informal Air Travel Complaints Process Flesch Scale 44.8 – between pretty difficult and plain English Grade Level 12.3
  • Attention
    • People absorb 5-7 things to memory
      • Don’t overload the page
    • Identify site – use branding
    • 9 seconds to tell what the site is about
    • On the Internet people navigate to information
    • On intranets people search for the information they need and then go to it
  • Eye tracking
    • After the first screenful of news eyes initially go to text
    • All subjects looked at banner ads for 1 second
      • Banner blindness can occur for repeat visitors, they will not look at banner as they know there is no content for them there
    • Graphics were looked at 22% of the time for about 1 second
      • according to a Stanford University and The Poynter Institute study on tracking eye movements
    • http://www.poynterextra.org/et/i.htm
  • Where the eye goes
    • Banner is skipped
    • First sentence is scanned for context
      • And so is the first sentence of paragraphs
    • Bullets provide quick reference point
    • User will look for headings
    • User will look for “action items” (like the form on the right in example)
  • Difference of Online vs. Print Content
  • Print vs. Online
    • Print is usually read in a linear fashion, one page follows the next
    • Online
      • You can reach pages from a variety of places and pages
      • You might not need everything on the page, just a piece of information or a link
      • You may stumble across information
      • Information could be relational or hierarchal or stand alone
  • Online Content - Pros and Cons
    • Pros
    • Cost-effective
    • Immediate
    • Easy/Quick Access
    • Measurable
    • Searchable
    • Can be interactive
    • Can be collaborative
    • Cons
    • High degree of maintenance for:
      • Content
      • Site
      • Processes
      • Governance
    • Misunderstood (publishers don’t understand different from print and post 2 page documents over 1mg)
    • Varying expectations and results (for interaction, collaboration, responses & monitoring)
    • Easy to get out of hand – content and site sprawl (perception that it is free and easy and anyone can do it)
  • Online Content
    • Needs to be reliable, timely and relevant
    • Users need to be:
      • aware it is there
      • Able to:
        • understand it
        • use it and take action if necessary
        • access it
        • understand it from their perspective
    • It needs to be user-centric
    • More and more there needs to be functionality that enables some two-way content that allows the user to become engaged by providing input and getting feedback
  • Exercise: Print example
    • Could you make this print copy more web friendly?
    British Columbia is renown for its “supernatural” beauty from wide-open plains, lunging mountain ranges, wild coastlines and abundant flora and fauna. Some of the many frequented and famous attractions – enticing millions of worldwide visitors every year include: Mount Robson (far north), Kootenay Glacier Park (Nelson), Lake Okanagan (Kelowna, Vernon, & Penticton), Long Beach (Tofino, Vancouver Island), Stanley Park (Vancouver) and Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and village (Whistler).
  • Exercise: Web example
    • BC Tourism
    • British Columbia is famous for its beauty, attracting millions of visitors annually.
    • Key attractions include:
      • Mount Robson
      • Kootenay Glacier Park
      • Long Beach
      • Stanley Park
      • Whistler
    Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains photo: Randy Lincks
  • Information Design
  • Information Design
    • What is the purpose of the information:
      • Educate
      • Motivate
      • Sell
      • Inform
  • Website models
    • Is your site’s main purpose:
      • eCommerce
        • you are selling something online that you want users to buy
      • Lead generation
        • you want to collect prospective buyers names so you can sell them your services
      • Content subscription
        • you make money off of selling valued content
      • Self-Service/Support
        • you want your clients to use the website to perform task and reduce call centres etc. time
  • Information Design Goals
    • Learn & retain
      • Clarify, simplify, repeat
    • Understand
      • Explanations, clear animations
    • Experience
      • High interactivity, control actions, sequence/steps
    • Get answer
      • References, fast access, search, content indexes
    • Act or buy
      • Defined/clear features & benefits, contacts, accessible
  • How People Learn
    • Providing appropriate visuals is vastly underated since over 40% of people rely on visual cues to learn and understand
    • Enforcing usability standards so any task is easy and intuitive to complete can affect over 40% of the population
    • Having content in different formats including audio and visual will ensure you reach a broader audience in the way they want to be reached
    Visual Kinesthetic (feel/do) Auditory & Auditory Visual Source: NLP – Jim Gillespie
  • Patterns of thinking
    • Problem - solution
    • Cause - effect
    • Comparison or contrast
    • Time order - logical order of events
    • Sequence or procedure (number)
    • Building blocks to prove thesis
  • Design to improve messaging
  • Viewing colour
    • Adding colour can:
      • Enable information to be located 70% faster
      • Speed learning and retention by 78%
      • Help increase readership by 80%
    Understanding Desktop Color by Michael Kieran
  • Colour
    • Colour is complex. The human eye can discern over 16 million colours.
    • The most important thing to remember is that colour can be used to add emphasis or to de-emphasize.
    • In general, keep your background light and simple. Provide high contrast between background and text.
    • Red is the hardest colour to read.
  • Colour best practices
    • Use your brand colours.
    • Use three main colours and then shades of those colours.
    • Either use complimentary colours or contrasting colours.
    • Be consistent.
    • Never only use colour as an indicator (of navigation etc.)
  • Design – Formatting
    • NEVER underline as that is the default for hyperlinking, users will assume that anything underlined should link them to another location.
    • Avoid using All CAPS and Italics as they are harder to read.
    Visit the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Style Guide www.w3.org
  • Design – Formatting
    • Know your users…
      • Will they want to print the web page? Then make it printable or attach a copy for printing. (Don’t have full colour pages that don’t contain content – e.g. front or back cover pages)
      • Do they need and will they have Flash Player? Silverlight? Real Audio? Acrobat Reader? QuickTime?
      • Are your users high-end - Have high speed modems and lots of memory?
    • People scan web pages so several headings with highlights are best, keep it short.
  • Reputation and Credibility
  • First Impressions
    • Visual appeal can be assessed within 50 milliseconds ,
    • If the user thinks the website looks good, the impression translates to other areas of the site, like its content.
    Source: - according to Dr. Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in a recent e-commerce Times article about a report published in the journal Behaviour & Information Technology
  • Reputation
    • “ Your reputation is a customer’s impression of your company, what they say about you, how they feel, their trust level of your commitment to be genuine. Every touch point with a customer is an impression opportunity that builds or destroys your reputation.”
    Source: http:// pixelposition.com /reputation-first-impression/
  • Reputation
    • Over 50% of employers use the web to check out applicants.
    • More than 33% of clients will research prospective partners using simple Google and Yahoo searches – and this percentage seems to be on the rise.
    • Internet first impressions may be extremely sticky.
    Source: http://www.evisibility.com/Online-Reputation-Management.html
  • Reputation
    • Over 90% of analysts agree that a company that fails to look after reputation aspects will ultimately suffer financially too.
    • For analysts the most reliable information sources are seen to be company websites and customer research.
    Source: Hill & Knowlton, Return on Reputation
  • Credibility
    • 46% of respondents based credibility on the overall design of site - including layout, typography, font size and colour schemes.
    Consumer Reports WebWatch's earlier national survey, A Matter of Trust: What Users Want From Web Sites , released April 16, 2002. In this poll of 1,500 U.S. adult Internet users http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/dynamic/web-credibility-reports-evaluate-abstract.cfm
  • Search Engine Results
    • “… users ascribe industry leadership to those brands within top [search] results, and believe them to be leaders in their fields given their placement in the results”
    Source: to Robert Murray, President, iProspect
  • Stanford’s 10 Credibility Guidelines
    • Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.
    • Show that there's a real organization behind your site.
    • Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.
    • Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
    • Make it easy to contact you.
    • Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone.
    • Make your site easy to use and useful.
    • Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).
    • Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).If possible, avoid having ads on your site.
    • Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.
    Fogg, B.J. (May 2002). "Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility." A Research Summary from the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab. Stanford University. http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/index.html
  • Usability & Accessibility Can users get to the information? Have you removed barriers?
  • Usability
    • Usability is defined (by Nielsen Norman Group) as having the following quality components:
      • Learn-ability : How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the site/tool?
      • Efficiency : Once users have learned the site/tool, how quickly can they perform tasks?
      • Memorability : When users return to the site/tool after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
      • Errors : How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors? As well, does the site/tool present any errors?
      • Satisfaction : How pleasant is it to use?
      • Utility (which refers to the site/tool’s functionality): Does it do what users need it to do?
    Source: Nielsen Norman Group and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usability
  • Usability
    • I would add these usability components
      • Find-ability refers to how well users can find information on the site in a way that best suits them, this includes:
        • the use of any available search engine software and how results are displayed
        • the use of bread crumbs
        • sitemap
        • quick links
        • drop down menus (task, role or user-centric items like “I am…” or “I want to…”)
      • Accessibility refers to how well the site complies with W3 standards for users with disabilities/challenges - be they vision, motor or cognitive skills; as well as browser use and load time access.
      • Ecosystem & usability – it is important to understand how the user is accessing the site/tool and what other sites/portals they are exposed to with the goal being to minimize complexity and improve ease of use (this would include enabling single sign on where feasible)
    Source: Catherine Elder
  • Can the site information be accessed
    • Can the site be found
      • Searchable
      • User friendly domain name
      • Branded
      • Key words & descriptions
      • Neighbourhood and linking strategy
  • Can information be seen
    • Can it be seen
      • Browsers
      • Mobile devices
      • Bandwidth
      • Enlarge font…etc
      • Languages
      • Contrast
  • Can information (on the site) be found
    • Find-ability
      • Intuitive navigation
      • Site maps
      • Bread crumbs
      • Quick links
      • Drop downs for task or role specific information
  • Accessibility
    • “ Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web”
    Source: w3 .
  • Accessibility
    • Approximately 15% of people have reported having a disability of various types and degrees
    • Tips:
      • ALT text
      • No tables
      • Multiple lookup methods
      • Reduce clicks
      • Font toggle
    All Access Pass – How accessible is your website? By Catherine Elder
  • Writing for the web "information chunking"
  • Content
    • “ Content is the information provided on the site. It is not just text, but music, sound, animation, or video - anything that communicates a sites body of knowledge. Good content should be engaging , relevant, and appropriate for the audience. You can tell it's been developed for the Web because it's clear and concise and it works in the medium. Good content takes a stand. It has a voice, a point of view. It may be informative, useful, or funny but it always leaves you wanting more.”
    The Webby Awards (International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences) http://www.webbyawards.com/webbys/criteria.php
  • Information overload
    • “ Every day seven million new documents are published on the Web, where there are more than 550 billion…The Web is the Trojan Horse of information overload; it promised information nirvana and delivered overload hell.”
    • Content Critical by
    • Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton 2002
  • Writing Tips
    • Keep it simple
    • Keep it short (250 words)
      • A bit of scrolling is preferred to several clicks
      • Printable version
    • Indicate - if opening application & size
    • Links - need to be credible
  • Writing Advice
    • Hearst’s editorial guidelines from 1933, many of which are remarkably applicable to online content.
      • “ Make your headlines clear and concise statements of interesting acts. ... Don’t allow copyreaders to write headlines that are too smart or clever to be intelligible.
      • The front page is your forum. ... Sometimes condense a big story to go on the first page rather than run it longer inside the paper.
      • Nothing is more wearisome than mere words. Have our people tell stories briefly and pointedly .
      • Please instruct copyreaders to rewrite long sentences into several short ones. And please try to educate the reporters to write short sentences in the first place.”
    - Online writing tips from 70 years ago - By Dylan Tweney, eWEEK - http://www.publish.com/article2/0,1759,1762233,00.asp
  • Writing Style
    • Be succinct: edit content to 50% of the words you would write in print
    • Writing should have the most important content at the beginning
    • Use simple sentences and limit the use of metaphors
    • Correct spelling and grammar
    • Plain English/French must be used when creating links, headings, site names, and forms
    • Task or scenario-based content should be used instead of organization jargon. (e.g. "Order a computer" instead of “CompuDesk”)
  • Writing Guidelines
    • Keep it current
    • Spell check
    • Source facts
    • Hyperlink to relevant information
    • Keep it light, informal
    • Use bullet list
    • Categorize topics with headings
    • One idea per paragraph
    • Use graphics
    • Use quotes
    • Edit
  • Creating content
    • Invite contributions
      • It is easier to edit then create new
    • Syndicate or licensing content
    • Use polls and feedback suggestions to generate ideas for content
    • Hire content providers
  • Technical Aspects of writing
  • Complete Thoughts
    • “A fine idea.”
    • Compared with ..
    • “Your suggestion is a fine idea.”
    Drinking tea, the doorbell rang
  • Paragraphs
    • One main idea per paragraph
    • State the topic or focus of each paragraph in the first sentence
    • 2-5 sentences, approx 100 words
  • Using commas
    • Incorrectly placed commas can completely change the author’s intended meaning
    HE EATS, SHOOTS, AND LEAVES HE EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES
  • Tone
    • Conversational which is informal
    Formal Informal Are found to be in agreement Agree Begin implementation Start using Pursuant to In regards to Kindly furnish Please send
  • Active Style
    • Active voice, rather than passive, provides the immediacy readers expect from the web
      • PASSIVE:
        • Your password should be kept confidential.
      • ACTIVE:
        • Keep your password confidential.
  • Active Source:The Elements of Style Passive Active & More Powerful There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground. Dead leaves covered the ground. The reason that he left college was that his health became impaired. Failing health compelled him to leave college. It was not long before he was very sorry that he had said what he had. He soon repented his words.
  • Omit the obvious
    • Don’t bother to state or instruct the obvious:
      • Click here to find out more
      • Pick a category below to read more
    • Add instruction if something unusual is going to happen
      • File will open Adobe Acrobat (or show icon)
      • RealTime Player is required to view video
  • Explain Acronyms
    • Explain acronyms
      • When first used, always spell out full term with the acronym in parenthesis
    • Have a glossary of terms available
    TGIF Thank God it’s Friday Toes go in first
  • Be Concise "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” – Thomas Jefferson
  • Concise Writing
    • Use
    • Near
    • Tried
    • Speed up
    • Saw
    • Don’t Use
    • In the vicinity of
    • Attempted
    • Expedite
    • Perceived
    Use fewer or simpler words
  • Concise Source:The Elements of Style Too long Concise the question as to whether
    • whether
    • the question whether
    there is no doubt but that
    • no doubt (doubtless)
    used for fuel purposes
    • used for fuel
    he is a man who
    • he
    in a hasty manner
    • hastily
    this is a subject which
    • this subject
    His story is a strange one.
    • His story is strange.
  • Concise Source:The Elements of Style Too long Concise owing to the fact that
    • since
    • because
    in spite of the fact that
    • though
    • although
    call your attention to the fact that
    • remind you
    • notify you
    I was unaware of the fact that
    • I was unaware that
    • did not know
    the fact that he had not succeeded
    • his failure
    the fact that I had arrived
    • my arrival
  • Exercise
  • Editing Exercise
    • Edit and format the information below to improve readability
    • Studies of how people read on the web show that:
        • they prefer to scan rather than read,
        • want text to be short and to the point, and
        • detest overly hyped promotional writing
    • We found improvements in usability for new versions of a site that were either scannable, concise, or objective rather than promotional in style When all three writing style improvements were combined in a final version of the site, usability increased a hundred and twenty four percent according to studies conducted by Nielsen Group.
  • Editing Exercise – my sample
    • How People Read on the Web
    •  
    • Earlier studies of how people read on the web indicated that they:
      • prefer to scan rather than read,
      • want text to be short and to the point, and
      • detest overly hyped promotional writing.
    •  
    • New versions of a site improved usability when they were:
      • scannable,
      • concise, or
      • objective rather than promotional in style.
    •  
    • When all three writing style improvements were combined in a final version of the site, usability increased a 124%.
    • – source: Nielsen Group .
  • Concise Exercise
    • Make the following phrases more concise
    • WORDY
    • At an early date of time
    • Based on the fact that
    • During the time that
    • In addition to the above
    • In the amount of
    • MAKE EXPRESSIONS
    • Make an estimation of
    • Make an examination of
    • Make a reference to,
    • AVOID
    • Absolutely nothing,
    • Advance forward
    • Assemble together
    • At the present time
    • Attempt
    • Component
    • Remuneration
    • Abeyance
  • Concise Exercise - Answers
    • WORDY
    • At an early date of time
    • Based on the fact that
    • During the time that
    • In addition to the above
    • In the amount of
    • MAKE EXPRESSIONS
    • Make an estimation of
    • Make an examination of
    • Make a reference to
    • AVOID
    • Absolutely nothing
    • Advance forward
    • Assemble together
    • At the present time
    • Attempt
    • Component
    • Remuneration
    • Abeyance
    • CONCISE
    • soon
    • because
    • during
    • also
    • for
    • SINGLE WORD EXPRESSIONS
    • estimate
    • exam
    • refer to
    • INSTEAD USE
    • nothing
    • advance
    • assemble
    • Now
    • try
    • part
    • pay
    • postpone
  • Exercise – Make the paragraph concise
    • Original:
      • Facilities management also portend high growth. To be sure, microprocessors can be found today in electronic thermostats, intercom systems, automatic sprinkler systems, stand-alone light timers and alarm systems that themselves are linked to a central monitoring station. But picture a home network that ties all these things-and more-together into a coordinated facilities and environmental control system.
    Source: www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/rewriting.html
  • Exercise - Concise
    • Rewritten (by useit.com):
      • Facilities management also will rely on new devices. Electronic thermostats, intercom systems, automatic sprinkler systems and alarm systems all will be tied into a coordinated control system linked to a central monitoring system. ...
    • Rewritten & formatted for the web by Catherine Elder:
      • Facilities management will rely on new devices that will be tied into a coordinated control system linked to a central monitoring system. New devices include:
        • Electronic thermostats,
        • Intercom systems,
        • Automatic sprinkler systems, and
        • Alarm systems.
    www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/rewriting.html
  • Getting Read Achieving your goals S T R I C T LY C O N F I D E N T I A L
  • Getting Read
    • Be current, concise, consistent and relevant
    • Email alerts, newsletters
    • Events with photos
    • Multimedia - webcasts
    • Personalize
    • Respond to suggestions
    • Post answers to questions - FAQs
    • Polls - and interpret results & follow-up
  • Be Prepared for your Audience
    • Know your audience
      • Know their requirements – why are they coming to your site?
      • Demographics
        • Age ranges – different generations value and want different things
        • Languages
        • Locations – local, region, national
      • Provide Feedback mechanism(s) – so they can tell you what they want
    • Understanding level (write to a grade 6 level for the general population which also accommodates for how people read online)
    • Analyze metrics to understand popular pages, views and use and content that isn’t being viewed
  • Know your audience
    • There are four generations in the workforce, each with different values:
    Econtent magazine’s article “The Generational Divide” Or, According to Wikipedia: Baby Boomer (1943–1960) Generation X (1961–1981) Generation Y (1982–2001) Generation Z (2001–) Source: Wikipedia
  • First step: Assess what you have
    • Assess your website
      • Conduct a communications/content audit
      • Document how information flows
      • Document who provides information
      • Determine if the site’s goals are being met
  • Define your purpose
    • Why are you writing?
    • How much does the reader know?
    • Are important points emphasized?
    • What is the value of the content?
      • Will it aid in informing?
      • Does it provide knowledge that is actionable?
      • Does it enable users with business intelligence?
  • Develop online content
    • Get the most use out of the medium by including photos, sound bites, streaming video and text
      • Static (text & images) - explain or tell information
      • Multimedia (video, audio, animation) – show how something is done
      • Interactive (two way communication) - engages user by empowering them to exchange information
  • Headings
  • Headlines – Differences online/print
    • In print, a headline is tightly associated with photos, decks, subheads, and the full body of the article, all of which can be interpreted in a single glance.
    • Online, a much smaller amount of information will be visible in the window, and even that information is harder to read, so people often don’t do so. While scanning the list of stories users often only look at the highlighted headlines and skip most of the summaries.
    Source: http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/09/20/writing-effective-attention-getting-headlines-and-titles-on-your-blog/
  • Headlines – Differences online/print
    • Online headlines are often displayed out of context:
      • as part of a list of articles,
      • in an email program’s list of incoming messages,
      • in a search engine hit list,
      • in a browser’s bookmark menu or in another navigation aid.
    http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/09/20/writing-effective-attention-getting-headlines-and-titles-on-your-blog/
  • Headlines
    • 8 out of 10 people will read headlines, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.
    • Tips for writing headlines:
      • Be USEFUL to the reader
      • Provide a sense of URGENCY
      • Convey that the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE
    Copyblog’s “Writing Headlines That Get Results” Avoid “Marketese” – cutsy sayings and alliterations that may work on a brochure but won’t on the web (the user won’t write sayings in a search engine when they’re looking for information – they will write keywords or phrases that directly relate to what they want to know; those keywords should be in your headings).
  • Heading Guidelines
    • Does the headline express the main idea of the story?
    • Does the headline effectively label the story’s content?
    • Will it create reader interest?
    • Will it move readers into the story?
    • Does the headline focus match the lead focus?
    • Are the words short, common, colorful, powerful, specific?
    • Would you read a story with this headline?
    • Does it use keywords that are congruent with the page and site content? (and therefore, is it easy to find)
    SNN Newsroom’s guide for writing headlines
  • Heading Example - poor Renew yourself now - is marketese & unclear There is a subsection on next page -scrolled down - about Renewal & Rejuvenation and refers to Spas Click here - is a no no http://www.ontariotravel.net/TcisCtrl?site=consumers&key1=home&language=EN
  • Optimization & Linking
  • Getting Found
    • 62% of users click on first page search results with an accumulative 90% clicking on results from the first three pages of returns.
    • 87% of results clicked on were from the organic (non paid) portion of the search results – which are totally dependent on their ranking (by ensuring pages follow optimization techniques).
  • Best Practices for SEO
    • Content – should be relative and descriptive with the first two paragraphs using keywords
    • Headings should engage and contain keywords
    • Title tag – concise and descriptive
    • Design – strong information architecture as base; images should use ALT tags with keywords
    • Links – cross links and external links
    • Age - how long your site has been up
    • Neighbourhood - who are you linking to and who is linking to you
      • Social media can greatly aid in establishing your neighbourhood – link to your site from within LinkedIn Profiles and Groups, in Twitter and from blogs to optimize content and all channels
  • Tips for improving SEO
    • Try the 8 second test (find out what people’s first impression is of your site after looking at it for only 8 seconds)
    • Have user friendly URLs – e.g. www.mysite.com/careers
    • Page <titles> should be between 40-69 characters
    • Write good headings <h1> and people will remember them
    • Write about 250 words per page (limit scrolling wherever possible)
    • Maintain context on the page and within the site
    • Keywords
      • Have keywords in main body content;
      • Use key words in your navigation and Information architecture
      • Have 10 keyword phrases for your site, each phrase should have two or more words
      • Use your own search engine to test keywords
      • Users misspell words in over 10% of queries (consider misspellings in your keyword meta tag)
    • Cross link within your own site
    • Use a 301 redirect if you’ve changed or removed pages
    • Use customized 404 pages – “Page not found error” and give users a link to more information
    • Use robot.txt to block internal search pages or repetitive pages so your site is properly indexed by search engines
    • Search engines like PDFs because they are text based (make sure they are still text and not images)
    • Have a site map (search engines will use site maps to index your site)
  • Measuring & Evaluating
  • Measure content effectiveness
    • Content integration - put content into context
      • For example: is “Buy” button beside product info
      • What content is popular? How can you use it to be more effective at driving traffic to & around your site; is there a correlation between content and purchasing?
      • What content isn’t popular and why? Is it of no interest/value or can’t users find it?
      • Content that is syndicated can make your site more dynamic and robust
    Source:Measuring Performance: How to Know that Content Works – Seybold http://seminars.seyboldreports.com/1999_boston/conferences/40/40_transcript.html
  • Measure content effectiveness
    • Utilization reports:
      • Average length of session
      • Average number of pages per session
      • Number of unique sessions
      • Referring domains
      • Customized reporting for your specific needs
    • Aggregated page views - if you are syndicating your own content and pushing it out to other sites then those page views should be counted
    • Look for trends, measure data over time
    • Compare web analytics with other promotional and marketing channels (e.g. email and print campaigns; webinars etc) that drive traffic to the site which will enable you to measure their effectiveness
    Source:Measuring Performance: How to Know that Content Works - Seybold http://seminars.seyboldreports.com/1999_boston/conferences/40/40_transcript.html