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Writing for the Web
 

Writing for the Web

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Lecture in Tallinn University, 29 October 2009.

Lecture in Tallinn University, 29 October 2009.

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    Writing for the Web Writing for the Web Presentation Transcript

    • Writing for the Web Hans Põldoja
    • This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
    • How people read on the web?
    • How people read on the web • Reading from computer screens is slower than reading on paper • Skim and scan • Pick out key words, phrases and fragments • Pay attention to only some parts of the page • Are guided by headings, links and bullet points • Are action oriented
    • F-shaped reading pattern (Nielsen, 2006)
    • Implications of the F Pattern • Users won't read your text thoroughly • The first two paragraphs must state the most important information • Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words
    • How people find content?
    • How people find content • Most users get to web pages from search engines, links on other websites, or links within a website • Every page should be written as if the user hasn’t seen the rest of the site • Some of them may not even know where they are
    • Tips for writing
    • Voice and tone • Active • Personal • Friendly • Informal without being too casual
    • Varying your voice • Corporate websites: efficient, informative, but approachable • Intranet: less formal, community-focused (us not you), inclusive • Blogs: informal, conversational, inviting responses (if work related, they still have to be professional and make some grammatical sense)
    • Active voice The active voice is more direct and uses fewer words • Passive: The lecture was enjoyed by the IMKE students • Active: IMKE students enjoyed the lecture
    • Personal voice • Impersonal: Web users may subscribe to the free email newsletter below • Personal: Sign up for your free email newsletter here!
    • Traditional academic writing Pyramid style • Lays the foundation with lots of supporting research • Builds to a logical conclusion • Takes a lot of reading to get to the point
    • Inverted pyramid • Catch your readers’ attention in the first few words • Start with the conclusion, follow with the details • Focus on key facts: who, what, where, when, why and how • Only one idea per paragraph • Use half the word count of traditional writing
    • Language • As simple as possible • Never use a long word when a short one will do • Beware of acronyms (PLE? LMS? LO?, OER?, ...)
    • Layout and formatting • Small chunks • Subheadings • Use bullet points whenever possible • Use bold intelligently and sparingly • Avoid italics • Write numbers as numerals (5 instead of five)
    • Writing headlines • Short, specific, tells the story • Include keywords • Include place names • Don’t use metaphors and wordplay • Needs to make sense on its own
    • Writing links • Links should be self-explanatory • Don’t waste words writing click here or follow this link • Web addresses shouldn’t be used as the text for links: You can book online • If the link takes users to a different section or website, make that clear
    • Keep it short • Headlines: 8 words or less • Sentences: 15 to 20 words • Paragraphs: 40 to 70 words • Break long articles / documents into several pages
    • Writing for search engines
    • HTML header <title>Imke Lass | Photography</title> <META NAME="Description" CONTENT="Imke Lass, a Savannah, Georgia based editorial photographer specializing in documentary, travel and portrait photography. "> <META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT="Imke Lass, Imka Lass, photography, southeast, photographer, editorial photographer, documentary, photojournalism, travel photography, portraits, portrait photography, Savannah, landscape">
    • An example
    • Promotional writing Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446). (Nielsen, 1997)
    • Concise text In 1996, six of the best-attended attractions in Nebraska were Fort Robinson State Park, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum, Carhenge, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.
    • Scannable layout Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were: • Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors) • Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166) • Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000) • Carhenge (86,598) • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002) • Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).
    • Objective language Nebraska has several attractions. In 1996, some of the most-visited places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).
    • Combined version In 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were: • Fort Robinson State Park • Scotts Bluff National Monument • Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum • Carhenge • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer • Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park
    • Usability improvement Promotional writing (control condition) 0% Concise text 58% Scannable layout 47% Objective language 27% Combined version 124%
    • Useful resources
    • http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/
    • http://crofsblogs.typepad.com
    • http://www.plainlanguage.gov
    • Group task
    • Group task • Find a poorly written text from some Estonian governmental website • How this text can be improved? • Rewrite one paragraph
    • References • Bennett, J.T. (2009). Writing for the Web. http://www.slideshare.net/ stetsonhatter/writing-for-the-web-1306005 • Costigan, P., Gardiner, K. (2008). Writing for the web. http://www.slideshare.net/ kmjgardiner/writing-for-the-web-presentation-725277 • Hibberd, G. (2009). Writing For The Web. http://www.slideshare.net/ghibberd/ writing-for-the-web-1493491 • Nielsen, J. (1997). How Users Read on the Web. http://www.useit.com/alertbox/ 9710a.html • Nielsen, J. (2006). F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content. http:// www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html • Starr, J. (2009). Writing For The Web. http://www.slideshare.net/starrjulie/writing- for-the-web-with-notes-on-slides
    • Photos • Ethan R, http://www.flickr.com/photos/etharooni/2648639630/
    • Thank you! • hans.poldoja@tlu.ee • http://www.slideshare.net/hanspoldoja