Writing for the web presentation


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First delivered in April 2010, this presentation/workshop was for an audience of web content providers at Newcastle University Careers Service. Covering the fundamentals of web writing, the presentation reinforces why writing for this medium needs a unique approach and delivers practical hints and tips for producing successful online content.

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Writing for the web presentation

  1. 1. WRITING FOR THE Careers ServiceWEBsite<br />
  2. 2. What this session will cover<br />A bit of theory<br />Practical exercises to sharpen your skills<br />Some useful hints and tips<br />And what it won’t...<br />Google search = 66,600,000 results for ‘Writing for the Web’ (April 2010)<br />
  3. 3. Nielson & Loranger (2006)<br />With a few exceptions, people visit the Web for its utility, not its beauty. Having a visually appealing site is good, of course, but content is golden. After all, when people enter queries into search engines, they don’t type in aesthetic attributes – they’re looking for information.<br />Good writing makes a huge difference in page views, time spent on a site, and sales. The essential rule of site usability holds for written content as much as it does for design: Customers choose clarity over confusion.<br />
  4. 4. Know your site…<br />Delivering information<br />Providing a service (to ‘remote’ users)<br />Acting as a portal (to other information sources)<br />Promoting services<br />Delivering news<br />Providing a ‘call to action’<br />Managing expectations<br />Av. 13,204 visitors per month over last year<br />
  5. 5. Know your audience…<br />Students<br />International students<br />Prospective students<br />Ex-students (graduates!)<br />Employers<br />Engaged employers<br />Prospective employers<br />Staff<br />Research staff<br />Academic staff<br />Support staff<br />
  6. 6. ...And speak their language<br />Avoid jargon<br />Be international friendly <br />Visitor versus organisation<br />Visitor versus YOU<br />Be relevant!<br />Know your audience... <br />AND WRITE FOR THEM!<br />
  7. 7. Learning from journalism 1<br />
  8. 8. The inverted pyramid<br /><ul><li>Good for newspapers… even better for the Web!
  9. 9. Catch people ‘above the fold’
  10. 10. Start with a broad overview
  11. 11. Save detail for lower down the page/site structure or for linked documents</li></li></ul><li>Learning from journalism 2<br />Be concise<br />Be objective<br />Be consistent<br />Be accurate<br />Be clear<br />Use active rather than passive voice <br />Avoid hyperbole<br />
  12. 12. How we read online<br /><ul><li>We don’t!
  13. 13. Most users scan
  14. 14. F-shape</li></ul>What this means for us...<br /><ul><li>Aim for 50% fewer wordsthan for print
  15. 15. Put most important info in first two paragraphs
  16. 16. Break up information – address one point per paragraph/section</li></li></ul><li>The golden rule: Less is more online…<br />
  17. 17. Copy-editing exercises<br />Exercise 1: 5 mins<br />Exercise 2: 5 mins<br />Exercise 3: 15 mins<br />
  18. 18. Finding your voice<br />First person “I” – informal and personal. Good for case studies and blogs.<br />Second person “you” – conversational and inclusive. Speak directly to your audience. Good for giving instructions and advice. But take care not to patronise!<br />Third person “he/she/one” – formal, authoritative and objective. Good for straight news stories. <br />
  19. 19. Links...<br />Are powerful!<br />Hyperlinked text catches the reader’s eye<br />Are helpful!<br />Links aid to navigation. Remember, visitors <br />don’t always arrive via the home page! <br />Ensure links make sense out of context <br />Keep text brief but descriptive<br />Avoid ‘click here’<br />
  20. 20. Think global<br />Avoid idioms, metaphors, colloquialisms etc.<br />Take extra care when using humour<br />Keep grammar and syntax simple<br />Use active voice<br />Remember, some things get lost in translation…<br />
  21. 21. Appearances count<br />Emphasis – bold, but use sparingly, avoid italics, underline and CAPS<br />Effective headings and sub headings<br />Short paragraphs<br />Lists (bullets are your friend) <br />Left aligned text<br />Use images to enhance and add value<br />But we can’t control exactly how people view our web pages – e.g. Platform? Browser? Monitor size? Personal settings? <br />
  22. 22. Check, please!<br />Check spelling, punctuation and grammar<br />Check for clarity and accuracy<br />Eliminate redundancy<br />Print out your work before proofing<br />Get a second opinion!<br />
  23. 23. REMEMBER THE SIX Cs…<br />Mc Govern (2006)<br />Who cares?<br />Is it compelling?<br />Is itclear?<br />Is it complete?<br />Is it concise?<br />Is it correct?<br />