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Writing for the web


This writing for the web presentation was originally created in 2004. It's currently being updated and will be used for an upcoming webinar.

This writing for the web presentation was originally created in 2004. It's currently being updated and will be used for an upcoming webinar.

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  • 1. “ Good writing…must capture the reader immediately and force him to keep reading.” - William Zinsser, On Writing Well.
  • 2.
    • Synopsis
    • Keep it short
    • Keep it simple
    • Keep it CP
  • 3.
    • Nature of the Web
    • Interactive
      • -Web users expect something more active than reading
      • -Content, design and navigation interact
  • 4.
    • Function of Content
    • Content serves four primary functions online
      • Communicate
      • Educate
      • Navigate
      • Initiate
        • Action
        • Relationship
  • 5.
    • Content Managers
    • Know the purpose of the website
    • Understand why the audience visits
    • Influence design, layout and content
  • 6.
    • Write for your reader
    • Use a casual style – speak to the user as though one-on-one.
    • Be concise and clear.
    • Minimize scrolling on navigation pages.
    • Update information on a regular basis.
  • 7.
    • Less is more
    • Web users have a very short attention span
    • Keep your text to a bare minimum
    • If you can find a shorter word that has the same meaning, go short.
    • Minimize use of cliches, superlatives.
  • 8.
    • Be Concise
    • Rule of thumb - 1/2 as many words as print but sometimes even less
    • Don’t be too short - brevity can affect clarity
    • Avoid vague references - be specific
  • 9. “ Don’t write about the thing you’re selling. Write about the people to whom you’re selling it.” - Nick Usborne
  • 10.
    • Writing to Brand
    • A brand is a promise
    • Establishes expectations
    • Is an expression of what a company is
    • Writing for a brochure or writing for the web should reinforce what the brand is.
  • 11. “ Helping people achieve more.” Canada Life branding message. You’ll find it sprinkled through all sorts of communications
  • 12.
    • The thinking behind writing for the brand
    • Freedom 55 Financial
    • A total financial planning organization,
    • Messages in ads and marketing materials always reflect that
    • Doesn’t talk about product, but rather how we work with our clients to reach their needs at every stage of life
  • 13.
    • Links
    • Too many hyperlinks interrupt text flow
    • Hyperlink to more detailed information to minimize scrolling
    • Don’t add links that will lead the user to another terrain of thought
    • Place links to other websites or resources at the end of the page/article
    • Open external links in separate window
  • 14.
    • Don’t Click Here!!
    • Write about your subject, not the medium
    • Avoid references to Web actions
    • Bad
      • “ For a list of resources about how to create an acceptable PowerPoint presentation, click here .”
    • Good
      • “ Use our PowerPoint resources to create stronger presentations.”
  • 15.
    • Addressing the Audience
    • Address the audience in the first person and they will:
    • identify with a company
    • increased confidence in its products and services.
    • Examples:
    • We pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service.
    • Our customers are our priority.
  • 16.
    • Tone
    • Talk to web users the same way you would talk to a friend – in a simple conversational manner.
    • Avoid lecturing or listing information.
  • 17.
    • To convey a customer service message, ensure the tone is:
    • positive,
    • enthusiastic,
    • believable,
    • appropriate,
    • human,
    • customer-centric.
  • 18.
    • Lists
    • Lists are an effective way to:
    • unite unrelated information,
    • draw attention to key information,
    • move the reader through the material efficiently,
    • improve the appearance of dense text.
  • 19. When creating lists: keep them short; use ordered lists when sequential order is important (e.g. to indicate steps in a plan); use unordered lists to present items of equal status or value. Bullet points make the contents of an unordered list easily scannable.
  • 20.
    • The Active Voice
    • Eliminates unnecessary words in a sentence
    • Strengthens the impact of what you are communicating.
    • An active voice:
    • emphasizes the subject;
    • shortens the message;
    • clarifies meaning;
    • conveys a sense of action.
  • 21.
    • Minimize use of lingo and jargon
    • If you can find any other way to describe an insurance/financial term, do it.
    • If you must include an acronym, please reference what it stands for.
  • 22.
    • Layout and Spacing
    • Keep text line length to about 40—60 characters per line.
    • Do not use indentations.
    • Use one full line space between paragraphs or between heading and body text.
    • Use one space after periods.
  • 23.
    • Paragraphs
    • A paragraph contains a single idea.This idea must be clear in the opening sentence – the rest of the paragraph supports or illustrates this idea. Paragraphs should be kept reasonably short; break long paragraphs if possible.
  • 24.
    • When creating text:
    • keep bolding to a minimum and do not italicize
  • 25.
    • Creating titles and abstracts in the Content Management System
    • Be concise –
      • Titles: 80 characters max. (which includes French, so we only get 70% of that).
      • Abstracts: 256 character max. (which includes French, so we only get 70% of that).
    • Key words are important (ie. Life insurance, estate planning, investments, etc…).
  • 26.
    • Titles and abstracts - continued
    • Don’t forget to change “translation required” from “no” to “yes” when copy and pasting into the French version.
    • Try not to “check out” a content ID.
  • 27.
    • Spelling and Abbreviations
    • Always use Canadian Press (CP) Stylebook and Canadian Press (CP) Caps & Spelling Guide (authority Canadian Oxford Dictionary).
    • For French, use Le Petit Robert and Le Petit Larousse).
    • Note that spell check can be defaulted to Canadian spelling (see handout for instructions)
  • 28. “ Online, your brand is only as good as your customer’s last experience.” - Tony Russell