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Writing for the Wired World
Writing for the Wired World
Writing for the Wired World
Writing for the Wired World
Writing for the Wired World
Writing for the Wired World
Writing for the Wired World
Writing for the Wired World
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Writing for the Wired World
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Writing for the Wired World
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Writing for the Wired World

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  • ocus on the technology, the pages, scripts, navigation, style sheets, etc., and neglect the written content.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Writing for the Wired World Jeff Wisniewski [email_address] facebook.com/wisniewski.jeff
    • 2. Nation Shudders At Large Block Of Uninterrupted Text
      • WASHINGTON—Unable to rest their eyes on a colorful photograph or boldface heading that could be easily skimmed and forgotten about, Americans collectively recoiled Monday when confronted with a solid block of uninterrupted text.
      • Dumbfounded citizens from Maine to California gazed helplessly at the frightening chunk of print, unsure of what to do next. Without an illustration, chart, or embedded YouTube video to ease them in, millions were frozen in place, terrified by the sight of one long, unbroken string of English words.
      • -The Onion
    • 3. You’re probably not going to read this
      • Built in 1995, the Fanny Millstein Library is located at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, approximately 35 miles east of Pittsburgh, PA. The library, originally housed in Powers Hall, was established to provide academic support and to serve the research needs of the Greensburg Campus' students, faculty and staff. Currently the library contains over 78,000 volumes and provides access to a vast array of information resources through the University Library System's Digital Library. There is also a computer lab and wireless network available to students for research and class work. Open seven days a week during the Fall and Spring terms, the library greets an average of 60,000 patrons each year. To learn more about the library, please visit our online tour, view our presentation, Welcome to the Millstein Library, or enjoy reading Millstein Matters.
    • 4. But you might read this:
      • The Millstein Library at Pitt Greensburg (located 35 miles east of Pittsburgh):
        • Is open seven days a week during the Fall and Spring terms
        • Has a computer lab and wireless network
        • Has over 78,000 items, with access to millions of e-books, magazine, newspaper and journal articles .
      • Want to learn more? Visit our online tour , view Welcome to the Millstein Library (ppt) , or read Millstein Matters .
    • 5. In a nutshell
      • This is a short paragraph at the top of the page. It's surrounded by white space. It's in an easy to read font.
      • To really get your attention , I should write like this:
        • Bulleted lists
        • Occasional use of bold and links to aid skimming
        • Short sentence fragments
        • Common words
        • Explanatory subheads
          • Did I mention lists?
    • 6. The nature of the medium
    • 7. The web is:
      • Immediate
      • Informal
      • Infinite
    • 8. Filtering information is our main requirement when both reading and writing in today's information heavy world.
    • 9. Excessive word count and worthless details are making it harder for people to extract useful information. The more you say, the more people tune out your message. - Jakob Nielsen
    • 10. Usability
      • the study of the ease with which people can use a website in order to achieve a particular goal.
    • 11. Web optimized written content and usability are different sides of the same coin
    • 12. Krug’s 3 laws of usability
      • “ Don’t make me think.”
      • “ It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.”
      • “ Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what is left.”
      • Krug, S. (2006), Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Berkeley, CA: New Riders
    • 13. Worth the effort?
      • “ The rewritten web site scored 159% higher than the original in measured usability."
      • http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/rewriting.html
    • 14. Users vote with their feet
    • 15. Users and user behavior
    • 16. we have to design for occasional users
    • 17. The Typical Library Website Visitor
      • Usually focused on getting a job done
      • Usually inexperienced
      • Visit infrequently
      • Has low recall
      • Is impatient
    • 18. Novice and occasional users
      • Intimidated by complex menus
      • Expect frequently used areas to have prominent links
      • Prefer an unambiguous structure, that is, either apples or oranges but not both!
    • 19. Novice and occasional users
      • Want overviews that provide easy access and illustrate how information is arranged. For example, site maps and FAQs
      • Expect to find a glossary of technical terms, acronyms, and abbreviations
      • Use visual layouts and graphics to trigger their memory
    • 20. How users read online
      • They generally don’t, they scan
      • Move in an "S" like pattern down the page
      • Pay particular attention to first words of headings
    • 21.  
    • 22.  
    • 23. Why?
      • Reading on a computer monitor is typically at least 25% slower than reading the equivalent content on a paper-based format , so, simply, it takes more time and effort.
      • Reading from a monitor causes both eye strain and eye fatigue
      • People tend to look for easy to recognize clues that will quickly lead to the the information they want.
    • 24. Reading slower: Implications for style
        • keep things as brief as possible
        • many web visitors will read only the first or second sentences of a paragraph
    • 25. Information foraging
      • Certain words or phrases function as trigger words.
      • They give off strong “scent” because they look like they will lead the user closer to their information goal.
      • Users are willing to click repeatedly so long as the scent is getting stronger
      • The choices users make are rapid and people will often pick the first likely looking link
    • 26. So what’s wrong with this?
      • Built in 1995, the Fanny Millstein Library is located at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, approximately 35 miles east of Pittsburgh, PA. The library, originally housed in Powers Hall, was established to provide academic support and to serve the research needs of the Greensburg Campus' students, faculty and staff. Currently the library contains over 78,000 volumes and provides access to a vast array of information resources through the University Library System's Digital Library. There is also a computer lab and wireless network available to students for research and class work. Open seven days a week during the Fall and Spring terms, the library greets an average of 60,000 patrons each year. To learn more about the library, please visit our online tour, view our presentation, Welcome to the Millstein Library, or enjoy reading Millstein Matters.
    • 27. Writing for the medium
    • 28. Preexisting content
      • Originally written for some other medium
      • Lacks a consistent voice
      • Contains many different writing styles
      • Has structure and organization that most likely varies greatly
      • Lacks a consistent vernacular . Is circulation circulation, or lending, or book check-out, or all three?
    • 29. The 6 C’s of writing for the web - Adapted from Killer Web Content by Gerry McGovern
    • 30. Who C ares?
      • People are overloaded with information
      • They won’t waste time reading content they don’t care about
      • Don’t assume that because you care, your readers will too
      • Think before you write – will my readers care about this?
    • 31. Is your content C ompelling?
      • People may care, but are they paying attention?
      • You need to identify with your readers
      • Use your users’ words, not internal lingo or acronyms
    • 32. Is it C lear?
      • Be simple when you write – if your content is not clear, you will lose readers.
      • All acronyms should be spelled out upon first use
      • Content should be internationally friendly
      • People on your Web pages are scanning – make it easy for them to find what they want.
    • 33. Is it C omplete?
      • Essence of any site is to help people complete a task
      • If a call to action is made, be clear what steps should be taken
      • Write great links to keep your readers moving from step to step so they can complete their tasks
    • 34. Is it C oncise?
      • “ Tell them ‘who did it’ in the first paragraph.”
      • Help people quickly understand your content.
      • Use bullets instead of paragraphs when possible.
    • 35. Is it C orrect?
      • It’s easy to pull together content from other sources.
      • “ Editing is quality control for writing.”
      • Check your facts, verify your numbers, make sure the content you provide is up-to-date .
    • 36. Scanability is essential
    • 37. Page titles
      • Be specific when creating titles; no two pages should be titled alike
      • Use this format:
        • Descriptive phrase | Subsection| Section | Organization
    • 38. Page titles
      • Make the first word of the title the most important descriptor of the page
      • Do not begin with a generic term ("Welcome to") or an article ("The”)
      • Should make sense when viewed completely out of context, as part of a long list of other page titles, as in search engine results lists
      • Should be unique
      • Must be written in mixed case
    • 39. Exercise: Write a good page title for the following page
    • 40. Exercise: Write a good page title for the following page:
    • 41. lists
      • set their contents apart from the rest of the page and can very effectively highlight text
      • Bulleted: sequence doesn’t matter
      • Numbered: sequence matters
      • full sentences are not appropriate
    • 42. headings
      • Titles and headings (often in bold) help your readers see your point without having to read the entire page
    • 43. headings
      • usually displayed as bolder, larger and/or in color, so they attract attention
      • important signposts for setting off the regions of your page
      • Common problems:
        • Unfamiliar headings or links
        • Confusable headings or links - two or more items appear to describe the same thing
        • Headings or labels that are equally similar for some goals.
    • 44. headings should:
      • Have information-carrying content within the first three words
      • Include keywords that are important for search engine optimization (SEO)
      • Have strong scent
    • 45. use "old", "boring" words to make your content more findable -Jakob Nielsen
    • 46. Links
      • most effective when they reduces clutter by dividing chunks of information into individual web pages
      • Links attract a person’s attention
      • The best links contain trigger words and give off a strong scent, drawing the user closer to their goal.
    • 47. Tips for Creating Effective Hyperlinks
      • Make the text in your links meaningful.
      • Use words that people known and understand. Remember "old and boring".
      • Underline links to make them stand out. This was the default link display in early HTML browsers.
      • Engineering's (UIE) research shows that links with 4 to 9 words are most effective.
      • Be sure to make visited and unvisited links contrast with the base font color.
    • 48. Tips for Creating Effective Hyperlinks
      • Avoid using “standard” link colors and underlined text for anything that isn't a link.
            • For example, this is not a link, but it sure looks like one.
      • Don’t reuse link colors.
    • 49. Tips for Creating Effective Hyperlinks
      • “ Click here” should NEVER be a hyperlink
    • 50. Exercise
      • Look at the following three links. Which is the "weakest link" and why? How would you rewrite it?
    • 51.
      • Library Staff Directory:
      • 1. Search by last name
      • 2. Browse by office location
      • 3. List all staff, click here
    • 52. Inverted Pyramid Style
      • the conclusion comes first
      • In the next paragraph, you summarize the most important items.
      • Only then do you get to the details.
    • 53. Highly Classified
      • compose your page text as if you were writing a classified ad, where you're paying by the word.
      • Your end result need not be THAT Spartan but, as Seth Godin points out, users' attention IS an expensive resource we ought not waste
    • 54. Tips
      • Use half the word count of conventional writing
      • Get to the point, immediately!
      • Use fewer, smaller and simpler words
      • Save the details for those who want to “learn more.”
    • 55. Simplify words and structure
      • This section describes the types of identification that would satisfy the application requirements for a library card.
      • What identification is needed when applying for a library card?
    • 56. Plain language
      • The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
      • Thomas Jefferson
    • 57. Plain language in a nutshell
      • Common, everyday words
      • "You" and other pronouns
      • Write directly to reader
      • The active voice
      • Short sentences
      • Be positive where possible
    • 58. Adult Literacy Levels in the U.S. Source: http://nces.ed.gov/naal/kf_demographics.asp
    • 59. Plain language
      • Plain language is appropriate for the medium and is consistent with the way people behave online
      • improves the clarity of your communication
    • 60. Plain language in a nutshell
      • Plain language is not:
        • Unprofessional, disrespectful, or inaccurate. It does not “dumb down” information for the public. In fact, using plain language is respectful because it values the readers’ time .
    • 61. Plain language in a nutshell
      • ESL considerations
      • Flesch-Kincaid should always be lower for online than for print
      • “ Resist the urge to write like a grad student or a bureaucrat.”
      • -Yahoo! Developer Network
    • 62. Plain language
      • http://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp
    • 63. Use pronouns, they personalize the text and add clarity
      • Refer to your organization as “we”
      • Refer to the reader as “you” in the text and as “I” in questions
    • 64. Use pronouns, they personalize the text and add clarity
      • Example:
        • Faculty, staff and students must return books by the end of the loan period. If books are returned after the due date, fines will accrue.
        • You must return books by the due date. You will be fined if books are returned late.
    • 65. Avoid noun sandwiches - a string of nouns one after another
      • Remote patron authenticated licensed database access.
      • How would you rewrite this one?
    • 66. Cut out redundancies
      • ask the question ask
      • absolutely essential essential
    • 67. Avoid jargon
      • Reference Ask a question
      • Circulation Check out
      • Library Terms That Users Understand
      • http://www.jkup.net/terms.html
    • 68. Use active voice and action words
      • Contact information can be edited here
      • Becomes….?
      • Images can be uploaded
      • Becomes…?
    • 69. Jargon
      • Efficient and effective for those “in the know”
      • Opaque, confusing, and distancing for those who are not (tip: that’s almost everyone!)
    • 70. Abstract…Help?
      • (1) An index that not only provides citations, but also gives a brief summary of each item indexed. (2) A short summary of an article in a scholarly journal, usually appearing towards the beginning of the article. (3) A summary of a paper presented at a conference. The full text of the paper is not always available.
    • 71. ‘ cause you’ve got…personality?
      • A formal tone adds “distance” to an already asynchronous medium
      • In general, formality is inconsistent with the web’s immediate, informal, social nature
    • 72.  
    • 73. Exercise
      • Jargon?
      • http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul.html
    • 74. Exercise
      • Victim(s)?
    • 75. Say it visually?
      • Sometimes a picture IS a worth a thousand words
        • Data based items
        • Instructions
        • Reference to a real world object
    • 76.  
    • 77.  
    • 78.  
    • 79.  
    • 80. Strategies to Encourage Good Writing for the Web
    • 81. 1. Make the case for good web writing
        • Web teams often undervalue the fundamental importance of writing on the web because it is assumed that people who write for print can "naturally" write well for the web.
    • 82. Develop editorial guidelines for your site
      • How will you handle abbreviations?
      • How are capitalization in headings, bullet points, and numbering used on this site?
      • What rules will you follow for punctuation?
    • 83. Develop editorial guidelines for your site
      • Will you italicize quotes or use double quote marks or single quote marks?
      • Editorial guidelines should include a dictionary of preferred terms . As the visitor moves from page to page within the site, they should see the same function or service labeled in the same way.
    • 84. Use a pre-publication checklist
    • 85. Lead by example
      • Make sure the pages that you work on exemplify the practice of good writing for the web.
    • 86. Promote good writing
      • Send out regular tips on web development.
      • Create a "writing for the web" or "web development" del.icio.us account and share useful sites.
      • If you see a good article that drives home the importance of writing, send it around.
      • Finally, if you have an anecdote or story about one of your own users, share it
    • 87. Recognize good writing and writers
      • If you notice that someone has done an excellent job of writing content in a clear, succinct manner that works well, make a point of telling them.
      • If you have anecdotal or usability testing evidence of how well it works, share those stories with everyone.
    • 88. Encourage an editing culture
      • Try to instill a culture of peer editing where people ask someone to look over their new page and provide suggestions.
      • Be an example by offering your pages up first - ask for help by pointing out sections you think could be more concise or where you would like to eliminate jargon.
      • TIP: a wiki is a great tool for these collaborative edits
    • 89. Never Underestimate the Power of Training
      • Share what you know about writing for the web
      • Workshops, classes, clinics, brown bag session
    • 90. Include writing and editorial guidelines in the standard briefing for all new web site authors
      • Work with your webmaster to make sure that new authors not only receive an account and a password to post web pages, but they have some time with an individual who can describe the editorial guidelines
    • 91. Invite key content providers to be observers in usability testing
      • Seeing is believing.
      • Some people will fail to recognize the problems with writing online as if it were print until they see actual users failing.
      • Try to have different people in your library take a turn at being an observer in a usability test and the debrief session.
    • 92. Questions? Discussion?
    • 93. Resources
      • Talk Like a Person
        • http://developer.yahoo.com/ypatterns/social/core/conversation.html
    • 94. Thank you

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