Writing for the Web
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Writing for the Web

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  • Why? Because we all learned to write before this whole web thing began.Writing for the web is different than writing for print.The incentives are often to write MORE, not less.Authors are paid by the word/pageAcademic papers have to be a certain number of words, pages, etc.But, writing for the web properly is important because….
  • When people come to your site, they are looking for information.We measure usabilityFindabilityUndestandabilityHow you present your information will determine If your user can find the informationIf your user will understand your message – we’ll talk about messages a bit more later
  • con·cise/kənˈsīs/Adjective: Giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words; brief but comprehensive.
  • Fail to plan, plan to failPlans are worthless. But planning is everything.
  • 3 personasuse these personas to determine- what you will write- how you will write it - Editorial style guide is coming
  • What do you want users to know?What do users want to know?Crafting messages allows us to create a model for what we need to say.
  • You should map messages to your business objectives and user goals
  • We craft messages to inform our content creation.Messages are a strategy document to inform your writing.
  • Itdoesn’t matter how these are written, the verbiage doesn’t matter. The end user will never see these.Just capture the general idea, and use these as a tool for deciding when and how to write content
  • Primary Message: The single most important thing you want the user to learn. It should support a business objectiveSecondary Message: A group of key messages that extrapolate the primary message.Details: All the facts, data, anecdotes, philosophies that prove your messages.Call(s) to Action: What you want the user to do after they get your message
  • Each page on your site might contain multiple messagesWe need a way to envision what those message are, how they will work on the page before we begin constructing and writing the page.How do we do this?I said messages are strategy documents for content.Page tables are strategy documents for web pages.
  • The page table is terrific: it tells your writers exactly what needs to be on the page, how to say it, and what supporting materials need to go along with it.Great for About content, program/initiative information, topic discussions, etc.Not so great for e-commerce product descriptions, news sites, etc.
  • The page table is terrific: it tells your writers exactly what needs to be on the page, how to say it, and what supporting materials need to go along with it.Great for About content, program/initiative information, topic discussions, etc.Not so great for e-commerce product descriptions, news sites, etc.
  •      - Politician, press secretaries, lawyers, marketing speak, consultant speak     - Buzzwords, clichés
  • Tell the story of Hops.     - Politician, press secretaries, lawyers, marketing speak, consultant speak- Buzzwords, clichés
  • Tell the story of Hops.     - Politician, press secretaries, lawyers, marketing speak, consultant speak- Buzzwords, clichés
  •      - Politician, press secretaries, lawyers, marketing speak, consultant speak     - Buzzwords, clichés
  • Tell the story of Hops.     - Politician, press secretaries, lawyers, marketing speak, consultant speak- Buzzwords, clichés
  •      - Politician, press secretaries, lawyers, marketing speak, consultant speak- Buzzwords, clichés
  • This is actually not what Albert Einstein said.What he said was:“It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”
  • This is actually not what Albert Einstein said.What he said was:“It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”When you write content that is beautiful and meaningful, it becomes MEMORABLE.
  • Simple as possible, but not simpler.
  • Start with your headlinesThen move on to paragraphs, sentences and phrases
  • Active voice: the subject is doing the action“Steve loves Amy”Steve is the subjectAction is LovesObject is AmyPassive Voice:The target of the action gets promoted to the subject position“Amy is loved by Steve”
  • Formal, almost snooty language
  • Users don’t ONLY read
  • They scan until they identify trigger words that match the information that they are interested in.Then they read.This is why things like headlines are so important
  • SEO relies on headlines. Writing good headlines.Don’t try to be clever. Clever doesn’t help SEO, doesn’t help users scan, usually isn’t understandable out of context.
  • Talk about trigger words
  •  - Don't burry the lead     - Idea for "inverted pyramid" came from the invention of the telegraph - Western Union charged 1 cent per character          - Technology shapes content
  • Global navigation, other text linksIt is important that the link include words that will give the user information about what they will see when they click on it.Tell the story of screen readers and links
  • Delete, edit, submit, add newIn the past, these were more associated with desktop applications.Since the web has become application friendly, we can use both the desktop button and the web link as actionsIt is the words used matters more than the form factor.
  • Works really well on a desktop sized screen and a mouse pointer.Not so good on a tiny touch screen.Should be kept to a minimum, no more than one per paragraph

Writing for the Web Writing for the Web Presentation Transcript

  • Writing for the Web Made EasyAmerican Council on Education ironworks.com
  • Actually, it isn’t really that easy…. 2
  • As web content writers,You have the greatest impact on the user experience of the ACE site (no pressure!) 3
  • "Content is the heart of a brilliant user experience. From the body content to the alt textto the footer, the words that shape the page lie at the very center of an engaging visit. Ifthe words aren’t beautiful and meaningful, the sleekest design in the world won’t compensate for it. The body can never replace a missing heart." - Amber Simmons, http://www.alistapart.com/articles/revivinganorexicwebwriting 4
  • Beautiful simple concisethoughtful 5
  • Meaningful useful relevantinformative 6
  • Agenda Part 1 Part 2 Planning Content Writing Content Audience DELETE! DELETE! DELETE! Use Plain Language Crafting a Message Make your content SCANNABLEThe Difference Between Content and Copy Links 7
  • Part 1 Planning Content Audience Crafting a MessageThe Difference Between Content and Copy 8
  • Part 1: Planning Content Audience 9
  • Persona: Face to Facer “My work is often focused on the big issue of the Jennifer has been president of a large state university for day. I need to be able to easily find information on the past 3 years. Before that, she was a chief academic an issue, quickly get a high level overview of it and officer at 2 other state schools and one private college. be able to dive into deeper details when needed.”Key Characteristics Goals Tasks Frustrations and Pain Points• Has been in academia her entire • Keep up to date with the latest • Read the daily higher education • Too much information to wade career information in higher education news through everyday• Prefers interacting face to face • Improve the quality of their • Research a specific issue the • Can only address limited amount rather than online institution institution is currently dealing with of email• Relies heavily on email to get • Keep institution in compliance • Participate in annual meeting • Difficult to prioritize content information and communicate with state and federal regulations panel through all the clutter• Doesnt actively participate in • Find and maintain high quality • Collaborate with others on ACE • Newsletters come out in the online social networks leadership staff initiatives middle of the day when I have• Has a busy schedule • Maintain fiscal health of the less time to consume information• Travels a lot institution Questions • Influence policy makers to make • What are the current policy issues• Uses an iPad especially when better decisions for higher that I should be concerned with? traveling education • What is ACEs position on issues?• Is an ACE member • Network with other higher education leaders 10
  • Persona: Technophile “I’m not afraid of new technology. If I Stephen has worked at a private liberal arts college for 20 discover something that might be years, and has been the Chief Academic Officer the last 5 years. He started his career at this institution and worked his useful, I will try it out.” way up from professor, to dean to his current position as CAO.Key Characteristics Tasks Frustrations and Pain Points• Is very engaged online – • Find information on academic • Too much information blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc. leadership programs • Difficult to stay on top of topics• Active in ACE programs • Find event information before, that matter to me• Member of several other higher during and after the event • Not enough time to read long education organizations • Research information on a articles or papers• Uses a smartphone specific topicGoals• Keep up to date with the latest Questions information in higher education • Am I an ACE member?• Develop higher education career • What new laws and regulations should I be concerned about?• Improve the quality of their institution • How can I make my institution compliant with existing• Keep institution in compliance legislation? with state and federal regulations • What programs does ACE offer to• Engage in dialog with other higher better my institution and my education leaders career? 11
  • Persona: Newbie “I’m still trying to figure out the Olivia is the Vice President for University Relations at a small community college. She previously worked in both the landscape of higher education private and public sector at a Fortune 500 company and at associations.” several government agencies and NGOs.Key Characteristics Goals Questions Tasks• In her first higher education • Understand the landscape of • What is ACE? • Create a communication plan position higher education associations • Why should I attend this ACE around a specific issue facing• Comes from a career in both the • Communicate to the public the event? the institution public and private sector institutions point of view on an issue/topic Frustrations and Pain Points• Unsure of what each higher education association is for • Links that don’t take her to where she expects• Has never been to the ACE site• Uses social networks such as Twitter and Facebook as tools for marketing and communication 12
  • Audience Busy On the go Uses a mobile device Keeps up-to-date with latest in higher education Keep institution in compliance with state and federal regulations Improve the quality of their institution Develop their careerIn Academia Entire Career First Position in Academia 13
  • Audience How we should write it Busy On the go Uses a mobile device Keeps up-to-date with latest in higher education Keep institution in compliance with state and federal regulations Improve the quality of their institution What we should write Develop their careerIn Academia Entire Career First Position in Academia 14
  • Part 1: Planning ContentCrafting a Message 15
  • Crafting a MessageGather a collection of messages you want the user to learn or the user wants to see 16
  • Crafting a MessageMessages should be tied to your business goals (you do have these business goals written down, right?) 17
  • Crafting a Message Messages are not contentMessages are the information that you want to convey 18
  • Crafting a Message Anatomy of a messagePrimary Message: The single most important thing you want the user to learn. Itshould support a business objectiveSecondary Message: A group of key messages that extrapolate the primarymessage.Details: All the facts, data, anecdotes, philosophies that prove your messages.Call(s) to Action: What you want the user to do after they get your message 19
  • Crafting a Message Anatomy of a messagePrimary Message: TransportZ is a product that allows you to transport yourselfanywhere in the world instantlySecondary Message: Low cost, easy to use, portableDetails: Uses less energy than all of the other transport products. The userinterface allows you to easily select your destination and avoid transporting to non-habitable locations. Home button instantly gets you back home. Each transport isless than $10.Call(s) to Action: Buy TransportZ today 20
  • ExerciseConstruct a message for the program you are associated withThe purpose of the message is to describe your program to someonewho has never heard of it.Use this format:Primary Message: The single most important thing you want the user to learn.It should support a business objectiveSecondary Message: A group of key messages that extrapolate the primarymessage.Details: All the facts, data, anecdotes, philosophies that prove your messages.Call(s) to Action: What you want the user to do after they get your message 21
  • Crafting a MessageContent can contain multiple messages 22
  • Crafting a Message 23
  • Crafting a Message 24
  • Part 1: Planning ContentThe Difference Between Content and Copy 25
  • The difference between Content and CopyCopy is heartless filler that takes up space and takes on the appearance of information 26
  • The difference between Content and Copy―The Mission of ***** ****** ****** is to enrich lives byrevealing the wonder, relevance, excitement, and valueof creativity, laughter, and learning. This isaccomplished by facilitating inspiring, innovative, andenergetic education and business consultation serviceswhenever and wherever they are needed with a senseof pride, respect, and integrity.‖ 27
  • The difference between Content and Copy―Providing solutions in real time to meet our customers’ needs.‖ 28
  • The difference between Content and CopyContent establishes an emotional connection between people Thoughtful, personable and faithfully written Meaningful Reflects your brand 29
  • The difference between Content and Copy“********** vision is to be the worlds best quick servicerestaurant experience. Being the best means providingoutstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, sothat we make every customer in every restaurant smile.” 30
  • The difference between Content and Copy―******* mission is to organize the world’s informationand make it universally accessible and useful.‖ 31
  • The difference between Content and Copy"A snappy design might catch their attention, but its the words that make the real connection.‖ - Jason Fried, 37 Signals, http://www.inc.com/magazine/20100501/why-is-business-writing-so-awful.html 32
  • Part 2 Writing Content DELETE! DELETE! DELETE! Use Plain LanguageMake your content SCANNABLE The Secret of Links 33
  • Agenda Part 2: Writing Content DELETE! DELETE! DELETE! 34
  • DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein 35
  • DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!―It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequaterepresentation of a single datum of experience.‖ - Albert Einstein 36
  • DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!―On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit.‖ - Jakob Nielsen, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/percent-text-read.html 37
  • DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!Number of words MATTERS 38
  • DELETE! DELETE! DELETE! Number of words MATTERSNumber of words matters even more on mobile 39
  • DELETE! DELETE! DELETE! Number of words MATTERS Number of words matters even more on mobilePeople are going to consume your content on mobile 40
  • DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!You need to use fewer words 41
  • DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!Use the fewest number of words that still gets the point across 42
  • Agenda Part 2: Writing Content Use Plain Language 43
  • Use Plain LanguagePlain language is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. 44
  • Use Plain Language Plain Language Characteristics:Logical organization with the reader in mind Active voice Short sentences Common, everyday words 45
  • Use Plain Language http://www.plainlanguage.gov/http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/guidelines/FederalPLGuidelines/FederalPLGuidelines. pdf 46
  • Use Plain LanguageBeforeIn our endeavor to ensure guest safety at all times, can visitors please note that fire belltesting is carried out every Monday at 9.30am.AfterWe test the fire bell every Monday at 9.30am. 47
  • Use Plain LanguageBeforeWhen the process of freeing a vehicle that has been stuck results in ruts or holes, theoperator will fill the rut or hole created by such activity before removing the vehicle from theimmediate area.AfterIf you make a hole while freeing a stuck vehicle, you must fill the hole before you driveaway. 48
  • Use Plain LanguageBeforeIf you fail to comply with your duty of disclosure and we would not have entered into the contract onany terms if the failure had not occurred, we may void the contract within three years of entering intoit. If your non- disclosure is fraudulent, we may void the contract at any time. Where we are entitledto void a contract of life insurance we may, within three years of entering into it, elect not to void it butto reduce the sum that you have been insured for in accordance with a formula that takes intoaccount the premium that would have been payable if you had disclosed all relevant matters to us.AfterIf you fail to disclose any relevant matter and we would not offer you insurance if this matter wereknown, we may within three years: (1) void the contract or (2) reduce the sum for which you have been insured.If your nondisclosure is fraudulent, we may void the contract at any time. 49
  • Use Plain LanguageBeforeI give my Agent the power to exercise or perform any act, power, duty, right, or obligationwhatsoever that I have or may hereafter acquire, relating to any person, matter,transaction, or property, real or personal, tangible or intangible, now owned or hereafteracquired by me, including, without limitation, the following specifically enumerated powers. Igrant to my Agent full power and authority to do everything necessary in exercising any ofthe powers herein granted as fully as I might or could do if personally present, with fullpower of substitution or revocation, hereby ratifying and confirming all that my Agent shalllawfully do or cause to be done by virtue of this Power of Attorney and the powers hereingranted.AfterI give my agent the power to do anything that I have a right or duty to do, now or in thefuture. 50
  • Agenda Part 2: Writing Content Make your content SCANABLE 51
  • Make your content SCANNABLEUsers don’t read 52
  • Make your content SCANNABLE Users don’t readUsers SCAN and then READ 53
  • Make your content SCANNABLEHeadlines- Use headlines and sub-headlines to break up longer text- Headlines and sub-headlines should be short- Meaningful trigger words should appear in the first 2-3 words- Should be understandable out of context 54
  • Make your content SCANNABLEHeadline Examples:Noun VerbItaly buries first quake victimsRomania blamed over Moldova riotsTen arrested in UK anti-terrorism raidsVillagers hurt in West Bank clashMass Thai protest over leadershipIran accuses journalist of spying 55
  • Make your content SCANNABLEParagraphs- First sentence should contain the main idea/message of the paragraph- Subsequent sentences should contain content supporting the the mainidea/message in the first sentence- Inverted Pyramid- Use bullet points when writing lists 56
  • 3 Keys to Great Web WritingConcise text - Reduce the number of words. Fewest words that still gets the point acrossPlain language - Natural rather than subjective language. Pain language, not formal.Scannable layout - Headers, bullets, main idea in first paragraph, reverse pyramid 57
  • Agenda Part 2: Writing Content Links 58
  • The Secret to LinksThree types of links Descriptive Action Contextual 59
  • The Secret to Links DescriptiveDescribes the content you will see if you click on it 60
  • The Secret to Links ActionDescribes what will happen when you click on it 61
  • The Secret to Links ContextualProvides access to additional information about text inside of a paragraph 62
  • Exercise3 Keys to Great Web WritingConcise text - Reduce the number of words. Fewest words that still gets the point acrossPlain language - Natural rather than subjective language. Pain language, not formal.Scannable layout - Headers, bullets, main idea in first paragraph, reverse pyramid 63
  • ExerciseRewrite the provided text, using the techniques we have mentioned. How to Become a Member or Associate As a member or associate of ACE, you will become a partner in providing leadership and a unifying voice for higher education. First, download and complete the appropriate application form—Institutional (PDF) or Non-Institutional (PDF). If youre not sure which application to complete, you can familiarize yourself with our opportunities and criteria for involvement online or contact a member of our membership department for more information. If you are a member of the business community, visit our web pages for The Alliance Program to learn more and download an application. Then, complete the application and return it us at the address or fax number listed at the bottom of the form. Your institution or organization will be activated in the ACE database and in our Members and Associates Directory. Prepayment of dues is not necessary; an invoice will be mailed to you following the activation of your membership or affiliation. For additional information check our membership FAQ page or contact a member of our membership department. 64
  • ExercisePossible Solution: How to Become a Member or Associate 1. Download and complete the appropriate application form Member (PDF) or Associate (PDF). Which application should I choose? 2. Complete the application and return it us at the address or fax number listed at the bottom of the form. 3. Your institution or organization will be activated in the ACE database and in our Members and Associates Directory. 4. An invoice will be mailed to you following the activation of your membership or affiliation. For additional information check our membership FAQ page or contact a member of our membership department. 65
  • IntroductionYou have the greatest impact on the user experience of the ACE site 66
  • Linkshttp://www.plainlanguage.gov/index.cfmhttp://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/http://www.plainlanguagenetwork.org/http://www.amazon.com/Content-Strategy-Web-Kristina-Halvorson/dp/0321620062 67
  • ironworks.com