Writing For The Web

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  • 1. Writing for the Web Keidra Chaney May 31, 2009
  • 2. Overview
    • Print writing vs. Web writing
    • What Journalists should know
    • How Web users read
    • Content and Style
    • Formatting
    • Headlines
    • SEO and Keywords
    • Blogs
    • Measurement
    • Questions
  • 3. Print writing vs. Web writing What’s similar:
    • Basic skills are still required.
    • Research/attribution is still crucial.
    • You must still grab and hold a reader’s attention.
    • Great writing is still valued!
  • 4. Print writing vs. Web writing What’s different:
    • It’s harder for people to read text on a computer screen.
    • Web audiences are global and more diverse.
    • Web audiences tend to expect more than just text (i.e, multimedia/interactivity.)
  • 5. What Journalists Should know
    • You’re at a professional advantage!
    • Inverted Pyramid
    • Research/interview skills
    • Fact-checking
  • 6. What Journalists Should Know
    • You will need new skills:
    • HTML/CSS
    • Social Media
    • Video/audio production
    • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
    • Web usability
  • 7. How web users read
    • Web users read 25% slower
    • Web users scan text , not read
    • Web readers are selfish ; they want to get to the point quick.
    • Web readers are restless , they tend to multitask online.
    from Jakob Nielsen the “guru of Web usability ”
  • 8. How web users read
    • When confronted with lots of text, web users often:
    • Get eye strain
    • Become intimidated
    • Lose their place
  • 9. Web writing: Content and Style
    • Simplicity saves attention!
    • Put key terms first.
    • Be specific: avoid jargon and in-jokes. (mostly for headline/news)
    • Don’t overload with fluff words.
    • Provide context by attributing sources.
    • Link! Link! Link!
    Since readers scan, make your copy scannable!
  • 10. Web writing: Formatting
    • Write in Layers
    • Break long form writing in sections.
    • Use headings and subheadings.
    • Highlight key text
    • block quotes
    • lists with bullet points
    • use italics (NOT ALL CAPS) for emphasis
  • 11. Web writing: Headlines Web and print headlines should differ considerably. Why?
    • Web headlines are often viewed out of context
    • They are read by a variety of people - and non people (search engines)
    • Not as much space constraint
  • 12. Web writing: Headlines Write to be found by people using search engines!
    • Avoid puns, don’t try to be clever; it may not translate for readers
    • Include appropriate keywords at front of the headline (what would readers search for?)
    • Be clear and concise. People browse/scan quickly. Make it easy to digest.
    • Keep it short. Under 65 characters for RSS, Google search results.
    • Don’t abbreviate. Spell out keywords that reflect how people search.
  • 13. SEO & keywords
    • A final thought:
    Write for people, not search engines!
  • 14. SEO & keywords
    • SEO – Search Engine Optimization
    • It’s about making it easier for people to find you via search engines.
    • Find out what keywords people use to find content like yours.
    • Google Search-Based keyword tool:
    • http://www.google.com/sktool/#
  • 15. Popular Blogs
    • CTA Tattler (news)
    • HuffPo (politics)
    • Mashable (tech)
    Gawker Media (Gawker, Lifehacker, Jezebel, Idolator) The –ists (Gothamist, Chicagoist, LAist, etc.)
  • 16. What makes a blog work?
    • They’ve got personality and “voice.”
    • They speak to their audience. (not afraid of in-jokes or slang, when it works)
    • They’re informational and entertaining.
    • They’re relevant and current.
  • 17. **Writing with “personality.” A caveat:
    • Some critics conflate blogging with being crude, sophomoric or offensive.
    • You don’t have to be a jerk about it!
    • .
  • 18. Before you start blogging, first ask yourself:
    • Who’s my audience? (hint: it’s not “everyone”)
    • What’s my focus?
    • Is anyone else offering this kind of news/information online?
    • What unique perspective and insight can my blog offer than no one else can?
  • 19. Your audience is your best friend! Know them, love them.
    • Blogging is a niche medium by its nature.
    • Speak to your audience in their language (academic, tech-geek, snarky, earnest)
    • Find out what content they want to read - and keep giving it to them.
  • 20. Measurement Analytics! A great way to get to know your audience! Where they come from, what they like to read. Google Analytics Can use for blogger, wordpress.org, others
  • 21. Final Thoughts
    • Writing for the web isn’t so much about technology but about how people use it.
    • New ways of doing the same old stuff.
    • Don’t be fearful, be thoughtful!
    • Thanks!
  • 22. Questions? Keidra Chaney [email_address] @kdc (twitter) keidrachaney.com Thelearnedfangirl.com 2chicksblogging.com