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Writing for the Web
 

Writing for the Web

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  • In 1997 web usability guru Jakob Nielsen revealed the fact that:‘people rarely read web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences’(How Users Read on the Web, 01 10 1997)Nielsen conducted research into how people read websites, finding that:while 79% of test users always scanned any new page they came acrossonly 16% read word-by-wordreported in the article ‘How Users Read on the Web’Nielson’s research also found that credibility is important – they want to be clear who has written the information and whether it can be trusted – good writing contributes to credibility [also high-quality graphics, use of outbound links]Also use of ‘marketese’ detracted from credibility: exaggeration undermines confidence.Users prefer objective language.Nielsen used eyetracking software to carry out research on how users read web pages: NEXT SLIDE
  • He tracked 232 users viewing thousands of web pages What we see here are heatmaps from user eyetracking studies of three websites.The areas where users looked the most are colored red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. Gray areas didn't attract any fixations. Findings, as illustrated here:users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripethey also read Fast!users' main reading behavior was fairly consistent across many different sites and tasksdominant reading pattern looks somewhat like an F and has the following three components:Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F's top bar. Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F's lower bar. Finally, users scan the content's left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetrackingheatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F's stem. The heatmaps show how users read three different types of Web pages: an article in the "about us" section of a corporate website (far left), a product page on an e-commerce site (center), and a search engine results page (SERP; far right). The F viewing pattern is a rough, general shape rather than a uniform, pixel-perfect behavior. On the e-commerce page (middle example), the second crossbar of the F is lower than usual because of the intervening product image. Users also allocated significant fixation time to a box in the upper right part of the page where the price and "add to cart" button are found. On the SERP (right example), the second crossbar of the F is longer than the top crossbar, mainly because the second headline is longer than the first. In this case, both headlines proved equally interesting to users, though users typically read less of the second area they view on a page. What are the implications of this research for web writing? NEXT SLIDE
  • Nielson draws the following implications for web design from the eye-tracking studies:He firstly advocates following good guidelines for writing for the web, rather than repurposing print content and continues:Users won't read your text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner. Exhaustive reading is rare, especially when prospective customers are conducting their initial research to compile a shortlist of vendors. Yes, some people will read more, but most won't. The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. There's some hope that users will actually read this material, though they'll probably read more of the first paragraph than the second. Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words that users will notice when scanning down the left side of your content in the final stem of their F-behavior. They'll read the third word on a line much less often than the first two words.
  • What they want: to know immediately what the site isOrientation: what the site is abouthow it is organisedhow to navigate itInformation:the clear and correct information/content your site is there to provideAction:what users’ can do once they have the information they want (buy something; email you; subscribe)Most important thing on your site is the content …
  • To meet your users’ needs you must understand:who your audiences are (see voice and Persona later)know what your website is for:what do we want to achieve?who are we addressing?what services do we provide?what is our content?who writes it?who has editorial control and is in charge of updating and maintenance?In order to give web users what they want, we need to understand some of the fundamentals about our websites: purposes, content strategy, information architecture, and how people read our websites. More on these now, starting with:fundamental questions which should form the basis of the initial discussion about the proposed website and revisited throughout the process:why? do we need a website – just because everyone else does isn’t a strong enough answer on its ownwhat do we aim to achieve? – without set aims you won’t know what to produce and whether or not it’s a successwho are we addressing? – identifying your target audience, or audiences, is an important stage of the processwhat services will we provide? – what services will your website offer? sales, information, advice?what is the content? the meat of the pageswho will write the content? someone, maybe several people, will have to allocate time from current workloadcosts and plans for ongoing content generation, updating and maintenance? a website isn’t a static object, it needs constant updating and feeding with new information – otherwise it will look dated and lack credibility – that means your organisation will lack credibilityFollowing these discussions we can move on to develop a content strategy …In an ideal world, we would all have a content strategy to work to, which defines:key themes and messagesrecommended topicscontent purpose (how content bridges space between audience needs and business requirements)content gap analysismetadata frameworks [and related content attributes] search engine optimisationthe implications of strategic recommendations on content creation, publication and governanceBefore the content strategy is defined a detailed audit and analysis of existing content should be carried out (and is often not!)For more on content strategy read the articles by Halvorson and Lovinger in your folder.
  • So what does bring people back? What do web users want?content, content, contentcontent provides:value: whether you are providing information or are selling things, the quality of the content is what provides value to your usersreason for visits and use: it is useful content which causes people to visit, revisit and use a site content’s importance is proven by fact that a badly designed site will still have many users if it is the only place to get specific content; conversely a good looking site won’t keep users coming back if it doesn’t give them any useable contentsearch engine ratings: we’ll talk more about SEO later, but search engines such as Google read content: the more real, relevant content your pages contain, the higher up the rankings they will appearContent is often subordinated to design in the web development process: important to remember good design alone won’t bring users back time after timeAnother web guru who bangs the drum for content is usability expert Jakob Nielsen:his work is on web usabilityin course of which collected many user comments about the contentcome to realise that:‘content is king in the user's mind: When asked for feedback on a Web page, users will comment on the quality and relevance of the content to a much greater extent than they will comment on navigational issues or the page elements that we consider to be "user interface" ‘from Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Webby John Morkes and Jakob Nielsen (1997)
  • So what does bring people back? What do web users want?content, content, contentcontent provides:value: whether you are providing information or are selling things, the quality of the content is what provides value to your usersreason for visits and use: it is useful content which causes people to visit, revisit and use a site content’s importance is proven by fact that a badly designed site will still have many users if it is the only place to get specific content; conversely a good looking site won’t keep users coming back if it doesn’t give them any useable contentsearch engine ratings: we’ll talk more about SEO later, but search engines such as Google read content: the more real, relevant content your pages contain, the higher up the rankings they will appearContent is often subordinated to design in the web development process: important to remember good design alone won’t bring users back time after timeAnother web guru who bangs the drum for content is usability expert Jakob Nielsen:his work is on web usabilityin course of which collected many user comments about the contentcome to realise that:‘content is king in the user's mind: When asked for feedback on a Web page, users will comment on the quality and relevance of the content to a much greater extent than they will comment on navigational issues or the page elements that we consider to be "user interface" ‘from Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Webby John Morkes and Jakob Nielsen (1997)
  • Nielson draws the following implications for web design from the eye-tracking studies:He firstly advocates following good guidelines for writing for the web, rather than repurposing print content and continues:Users won't read your text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner. Exhaustive reading is rare, especially when prospective customers are conducting their initial research to compile a shortlist of vendors. Yes, some people will read more, but most won't. The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. There's some hope that users will actually read this material, though they'll probably read more of the first paragraph than the second. Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words that users will notice when scanning down the left side of your content in the final stem of their F-behavior. They'll read the third word on a line much less often than the first two words.
  • Nielsen tested out these content guidelines: scannable text layout; concise text; objective languageby developing 5 different version of the same siteNielson measured effect of content guidelineson usabilityresults:concise version: 58% better usabilityscannable version: 47% betterconcise, scannable and objective: 124% betterIf you want to know more about Nielson’s research methods and ways of measuring usability visit his Alertbox website – it’s all thereHe summarises scannable text as:highlighted keywords meaningful sub-headingsbulleted listsone idea per paragraphinverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusionhalf the word count (or less) than conventional writingWe shall look at each of these elements in more details in the next session … Research on reading online (or lack of it) and differences between offline and online writing, has informed a set of guidelines for online writing.Different writers name them and organise them rather differently, but they all contain more or less the same principles:Online writing should be:conciseobjectiveconversationalWill say more on each now:
  • Nielsen tested out these content guidelines: scannable text layout; concise text; objective languageby developing 5 different version of the same siteNielson measured effect of content guidelineson usabilityresults:concise version: 58% better usabilityscannable version: 47% betterconcise, scannable and objective: 124% betterIf you want to know more about Nielson’s research methods and ways of measuring usability visit his Alertbox website – it’s all thereHe summarises scannable text as:highlighted keywords meaningful sub-headingsbulleted listsone idea per paragraphinverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusionhalf the word count (or less) than conventional writingWe shall look at each of these elements in more details in the next session … essential messages: what users needthink what your users want to know and need to knowYou may think the history of your project is interesting, users probably don’t need to knowYou may have to provide legal statements about data collection and protection – but users aren’t interested so put it at the bottom of the page or link to it – don’t lead on ithow you know what they want is the result of your audience research (voice and persona – later)how to select content: think from your users perspectivedecide what questions they would ask first, second etccontinue until you have questions in logical ordercompare with your previous web page or draft – do you answer the questions?find answers if you don’t have themleave out content that doesn’t answer any questionscut unnecessary words you know web users don’t like to read much, so cut out any words which aren’t essential (up to 50% less than for offline text)process: focus on factscut any flab – such as about you and your organisationput draft away for a while then re-read and see if essential messages are clear, and if more can be cutread it out loud; get others to read it out loud and revise according to what you hear - your ear may pick up things the eye misses – such as tone and rhythmleave in enough to be clear (don’t cut so much that your meaning is unclear to inexperienced users)key point first write in an inverted pyramid style: main point firstsupporting information in order of reader relevancehistory/background at end if necessary (different from how most of us taught)Why? F-pattern of reading as most readers will catch the first point, with progressively fewer readers staying as you move down the pageAlso helps you organise your content as you have to identify your main point firstlayer informationlittle bit of enticing information on the homepage with a linkpathway pages with short descriptions and links toinformation pagelinks from information page to more in depth or tangential information pages
  • Nielsen tested out these content guidelines: scannable text layout; concise text; objective languageby developing 5 different version of the same siteNielson measured effect of content guidelineson usabilityresults:concise version: 58% better usabilityscannable version: 47% betterconcise, scannable and objective: 124% betterIf you want to know more about Nielson’s research methods and ways of measuring usability visit his Alertbox website – it’s all thereHe summarises scannable text as:highlighted keywords meaningful sub-headingsbulleted listsone idea per paragraphinverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusionhalf the word count (or less) than conventional writingWe shall look at each of these elements in more details in the next session … essential messages: what users needthink what your users want to know and need to knowYou may think the history of your project is interesting, users probably don’t need to knowYou may have to provide legal statements about data collection and protection – but users aren’t interested so put it at the bottom of the page or link to it – don’t lead on ithow you know what they want is the result of your audience research (voice and persona – later)how to select content: think from your users perspectivedecide what questions they would ask first, second etccontinue until you have questions in logical ordercompare with your previous web page or draft – do you answer the questions?find answers if you don’t have themleave out content that doesn’t answer any questionscut unnecessary words you know web users don’t like to read much, so cut out any words which aren’t essential (up to 50% less than for offline text)process: focus on factscut any flab – such as about you and your organisationput draft away for a while then re-read and see if essential messages are clear, and if more can be cutread it out loud; get others to read it out loud and revise according to what you hear - your ear may pick up things the eye misses – such as tone and rhythmleave in enough to be clear (don’t cut so much that your meaning is unclear to inexperienced users)key point first write in an inverted pyramid style: main point firstsupporting information in order of reader relevancehistory/background at end if necessary (different from how most of us taught)Why? F-pattern of reading as most readers will catch the first point, with progressively fewer readers staying as you move down the pageAlso helps you organise your content as you have to identify your main point first
  • From Nielson’s 1999 research onwards it is clear that web users hate ‘marketese’so avoid marketing blurb and its associated hyperbole and superlativesto be credible you need to be balanced and believableif you have figures, statistics, quotes from happy customers: use these to back up your claimsthink about it from the user’s point of view: – try to figure out their question and answer it, or their problem and solve it that way you’ll be telling them what they want to hear, not what you want to tell them– this is much more effective than empty self-promotion
  • Nielsen tested out these content guidelines: scannable text layout; concise text; objective languageby developing 5 different version of the same siteNielson measured effect of content guidelineson usabilityresults:concise version: 58% better usabilityscannable version: 47% betterconcise, scannable and objective: 124% betterIf you want to know more about Nielson’s research methods and ways of measuring usability visit his Alertbox website – it’s all thereHe summarises scannable text as:highlighted keywords meaningful sub-headingsbulleted listsone idea per paragraphinverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusionhalf the word count (or less) than conventional writingWe shall look at each of these elements in more details in the next session … essential messages: what users needthink what your users want to know and need to knowYou may think the history of your project is interesting, users probably don’t need to knowYou may have to provide legal statements about data collection and protection – but users aren’t interested so put it at the bottom of the page or link to it – don’t lead on ithow you know what they want is the result of your audience research (voice and persona – later)how to select content: think from your users perspectivedecide what questions they would ask first, second etccontinue until you have questions in logical ordercompare with your previous web page or draft – do you answer the questions?find answers if you don’t have themleave out content that doesn’t answer any questionscut unnecessary words you know web users don’t like to read much, so cut out any words which aren’t essential (up to 50% less than for offline text)process: focus on factscut any flab – such as about you and your organisationput draft away for a while then re-read and see if essential messages are clear, and if more can be cutread it out loud; get others to read it out loud and revise according to what you hear - your ear may pick up things the eye misses – such as tone and rhythmleave in enough to be clear (don’t cut so much that your meaning is unclear to inexperienced users)key point first write in an inverted pyramid style: main point firstsupporting information in order of reader relevancehistory/background at end if necessary (different from how most of us taught)Why? F-pattern of reading as most readers will catch the first point, with progressively fewer readers staying as you move down the pageAlso helps you organise your content as you have to identify your main point first
  • Use the active voice (mainly)Nielsen tested out these content guidelines: scannable text layout; concise text; objective languageby developing 5 different version of the same siteNielson measured effect of content guidelineson usabilityresults:concise version: 58% better usabilityscannable version: 47% betterconcise, scannable and objective: 124% betterIf you want to know more about Nielson’s research methods and ways of measuring usability visit his Alertbox website – it’s all thereHe summarises scannable text as:highlighted keywords meaningful sub-headingsbulleted listsone idea per paragraphinverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusionhalf the word count (or less) than conventional writingWe shall look at each of these elements in more details in the next session … essential messages: what users needthink what your users want to know and need to knowYou may think the history of your project is interesting, users probably don’t need to knowYou may have to provide legal statements about data collection and protection – but users aren’t interested so put it at the bottom of the page or link to it – don’t lead on ithow you know what they want is the result of your audience research (voice and persona – later)how to select content: think from your users perspectivedecide what questions they would ask first, second etccontinue until you have questions in logical ordercompare with your previous web page or draft – do you answer the questions?find answers if you don’t have themleave out content that doesn’t answer any questionscut unnecessary words you know web users don’t like to read much, so cut out any words which aren’t essential (up to 50% less than for offline text)process: focus on factscut any flab – such as about you and your organisationput draft away for a while then re-read and see if essential messages are clear, and if more can be cutread it out loud; get others to read it out loud and revise according to what you hear - your ear may pick up things the eye misses – such as tone and rhythmleave in enough to be clear (don’t cut so much that your meaning is unclear to inexperienced users)key point first write in an inverted pyramid style: main point firstsupporting information in order of reader relevancehistory/background at end if necessary (different from how most of us taught)Why? F-pattern of reading as most readers will catch the first point, with progressively fewer readers staying as you move down the pageAlso helps you organise your content as you have to identify your main point first
  • Use the active voice (mainly)Nielsen tested out these content guidelines: scannable text layout; concise text; objective languageby developing 5 different version of the same siteNielson measured effect of content guidelineson usabilityresults:concise version: 58% better usabilityscannable version: 47% betterconcise, scannable and objective: 124% betterIf you want to know more about Nielson’s research methods and ways of measuring usability visit his Alertbox website – it’s all thereHe summarises scannable text as:highlighted keywords meaningful sub-headingsbulleted listsone idea per paragraphinverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusionhalf the word count (or less) than conventional writingWe shall look at each of these elements in more details in the next session … essential messages: what users needthink what your users want to know and need to knowYou may think the history of your project is interesting, users probably don’t need to knowYou may have to provide legal statements about data collection and protection – but users aren’t interested so put it at the bottom of the page or link to it – don’t lead on ithow you know what they want is the result of your audience research (voice and persona – later)how to select content: think from your users perspectivedecide what questions they would ask first, second etccontinue until you have questions in logical ordercompare with your previous web page or draft – do you answer the questions?find answers if you don’t have themleave out content that doesn’t answer any questionscut unnecessary words you know web users don’t like to read much, so cut out any words which aren’t essential (up to 50% less than for offline text)process: focus on factscut any flab – such as about you and your organisationput draft away for a while then re-read and see if essential messages are clear, and if more can be cutread it out loud; get others to read it out loud and revise according to what you hear - your ear may pick up things the eye misses – such as tone and rhythmleave in enough to be clear (don’t cut so much that your meaning is unclear to inexperienced users)key point first write in an inverted pyramid style: main point firstsupporting information in order of reader relevancehistory/background at end if necessary (different from how most of us taught)Why? F-pattern of reading as most readers will catch the first point, with progressively fewer readers staying as you move down the pageAlso helps you organise your content as you have to identify your main point first
  • Use the active voice (mainly)Nielsen tested out these content guidelines: scannable text layout; concise text; objective languageby developing 5 different version of the same siteNielson measured effect of content guidelineson usabilityresults:concise version: 58% better usabilityscannable version: 47% betterconcise, scannable and objective: 124% betterIf you want to know more about Nielson’s research methods and ways of measuring usability visit his Alertbox website – it’s all thereHe summarises scannable text as:highlighted keywords meaningful sub-headingsbulleted listsone idea per paragraphinverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusionhalf the word count (or less) than conventional writingWe shall look at each of these elements in more details in the next session … essential messages: what users needthink what your users want to know and need to knowYou may think the history of your project is interesting, users probably don’t need to knowYou may have to provide legal statements about data collection and protection – but users aren’t interested so put it at the bottom of the page or link to it – don’t lead on ithow you know what they want is the result of your audience research (voice and persona – later)how to select content: think from your users perspectivedecide what questions they would ask first, second etccontinue until you have questions in logical ordercompare with your previous web page or draft – do you answer the questions?find answers if you don’t have themleave out content that doesn’t answer any questionscut unnecessary words you know web users don’t like to read much, so cut out any words which aren’t essential (up to 50% less than for offline text)process: focus on factscut any flab – such as about you and your organisationput draft away for a while then re-read and see if essential messages are clear, and if more can be cutread it out loud; get others to read it out loud and revise according to what you hear - your ear may pick up things the eye misses – such as tone and rhythmleave in enough to be clear (don’t cut so much that your meaning is unclear to inexperienced users)key point first write in an inverted pyramid style: main point firstsupporting information in order of reader relevancehistory/background at end if necessary (different from how most of us taught)Why? F-pattern of reading as most readers will catch the first point, with progressively fewer readers staying as you move down the pageAlso helps you organise your content as you have to identify your main point first
  • Use the active voice (mainly)Nielsen tested out these content guidelines: scannable text layout; concise text; objective languageby developing 5 different version of the same siteNielson measured effect of content guidelineson usabilityresults:concise version: 58% better usabilityscannable version: 47% betterconcise, scannable and objective: 124% betterIf you want to know more about Nielson’s research methods and ways of measuring usability visit his Alertbox website – it’s all thereHe summarises scannable text as:highlighted keywords meaningful sub-headingsbulleted listsone idea per paragraphinverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusionhalf the word count (or less) than conventional writingWe shall look at each of these elements in more details in the next session … essential messages: what users needthink what your users want to know and need to knowYou may think the history of your project is interesting, users probably don’t need to knowYou may have to provide legal statements about data collection and protection – but users aren’t interested so put it at the bottom of the page or link to it – don’t lead on ithow you know what they want is the result of your audience research (voice and persona – later)how to select content: think from your users perspectivedecide what questions they would ask first, second etccontinue until you have questions in logical ordercompare with your previous web page or draft – do you answer the questions?find answers if you don’t have themleave out content that doesn’t answer any questionscut unnecessary words you know web users don’t like to read much, so cut out any words which aren’t essential (up to 50% less than for offline text)process: focus on factscut any flab – such as about you and your organisationput draft away for a while then re-read and see if essential messages are clear, and if more can be cutread it out loud; get others to read it out loud and revise according to what you hear - your ear may pick up things the eye misses – such as tone and rhythmleave in enough to be clear (don’t cut so much that your meaning is unclear to inexperienced users)key point first write in an inverted pyramid style: main point firstsupporting information in order of reader relevancehistory/background at end if necessary (different from how most of us taught)Why? F-pattern of reading as most readers will catch the first point, with progressively fewer readers staying as you move down the pageAlso helps you organise your content as you have to identify your main point first
  • Use the active voice (mainly)Nielsen tested out these content guidelines: scannable text layout; concise text; objective languageby developing 5 different version of the same siteNielson measured effect of content guidelineson usabilityresults:concise version: 58% better usabilityscannable version: 47% betterconcise, scannable and objective: 124% betterIf you want to know more about Nielson’s research methods and ways of measuring usability visit his Alertbox website – it’s all thereHe summarises scannable text as:highlighted keywords meaningful sub-headingsbulleted listsone idea per paragraphinverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusionhalf the word count (or less) than conventional writingWe shall look at each of these elements in more details in the next session … essential messages: what users needthink what your users want to know and need to knowYou may think the history of your project is interesting, users probably don’t need to knowYou may have to provide legal statements about data collection and protection – but users aren’t interested so put it at the bottom of the page or link to it – don’t lead on ithow you know what they want is the result of your audience research (voice and persona – later)how to select content: think from your users perspectivedecide what questions they would ask first, second etccontinue until you have questions in logical ordercompare with your previous web page or draft – do you answer the questions?find answers if you don’t have themleave out content that doesn’t answer any questionscut unnecessary words you know web users don’t like to read much, so cut out any words which aren’t essential (up to 50% less than for offline text)process: focus on factscut any flab – such as about you and your organisationput draft away for a while then re-read and see if essential messages are clear, and if more can be cutread it out loud; get others to read it out loud and revise according to what you hear - your ear may pick up things the eye misses – such as tone and rhythmleave in enough to be clear (don’t cut so much that your meaning is unclear to inexperienced users)key point first write in an inverted pyramid style: main point firstsupporting information in order of reader relevancehistory/background at end if necessary (different from how most of us taught)Why? F-pattern of reading as most readers will catch the first point, with progressively fewer readers staying as you move down the pageAlso helps you organise your content as you have to identify your main point first
  • From Nielson’s 1999 research onwards it is clear that web users hate ‘marketese’so avoid marketing blurb and its associated hyperbole and superlativesto be credible you need to be balanced and believableif you have figures, statistics, quotes from happy customers: use these to back up your claimsthink about it from the user’s point of view: – try to figure out their question and answer it, or their problem and solve it that way you’ll be telling them what they want to hear, not what you want to tell them– this is much more effective than empty self-promotion
  • html and cssscalable typealt text for imagessummaries and labels for tables and formscourtesy and good businesslegal requirementFlashNo ‘click here’ or ‘more’skip to main content links
  • content, content, contentpage titlesalt text for imageskeywords and metatagsavoid image for text and Flash
  • In summary:online writing has different requirements than offline writingit needs to be organised as content:broken up into logical sectionsthe writing must be concise visually it needs to be organised for ease of scanning objective and conversational in tone

Writing for the Web Writing for the Web Presentation Transcript

  • Writing for the Web Elaine Brennan
  • How do users read web pages? They don’tWEB READING Jakob Nielsen, 1997
  • The F-Shaped Reading PatternWEB READING
  • How do we use the web? • to find somethingWEB USERS • to do something … quickly!
  • What web users need: • orientationWEB USERS • information • action
  • To meet users’ needs • know your audience(s) • know what yourWEB USERS website is for • have a content strategy
  • content, content, cWEB USERS ontent!
  • Types of pages • HomepageO R I E N TAT I O N • Pathway pages • Information pages
  • Organise content • answer questionsO R I E N TAT I O N • topics and subtopics • short pages
  • Offline Online • linear • non-linear • tells a story • actionableWEB WRITING • author led • reader led • sentences • fragments • can be long • brief
  • Implications of the F-shaped reading pattern • users wont read text thoroughlyWEB WRITING • the first two paragraphs must state most important information • information-carrying words must start subheads, paragraphs and bullet points
  • Make online writing: • concise •WEB WRITING scannable • objective • conversational
  • Be concise • focus on users’ needs • cut unnecessary wordsWEB WRITING • key point first • one idea per paragraph • layer information
  • Make it scannable • break up blocks of text • headings and subheadsWEB WRITING • highlight keywords • bulleted lists and tables
  • Be objective • avoid hyperbole and superlativesWEB WRITING • balanced and believable • provide proof • focus on your user
  • Speak to me! • speak directly: use ‘you’ • don’t mix nouns and ‘you’WEB WRITING • use imperatives in instructions • use ‘you’ rather than ‘he or she’ • use ‘I’ and ‘we’
  • Use Active Voice Active: The dog bit John. Passive: John was bitten byWEB WRITING the dog. • active is shorter and more vigorous • and it’s quicker to understand!
  • Sentences • keep them short • and simpleWEB WRITING • use your users’ words
  • Headings • are scannable signpostsWEB WRITING • provide visual hierarchy • meaningful to all
  • Lists & tables • keep lists short • use clear formatWEB WRITING • use numbered lists for instructions • use tables for comparing numbers • keep tables simple, short, well formatted
  • Links • use words and phrases your users know • match links and page titlesWEB WRITING • use action phrases for action links • longer, more descriptive links work better than single nouns • not ‘Click here’ or ‘More’ • make visited and unvisited links obvious
  • It’s a conversation … between you and your readerWEB WRITING
  • Be accessible • it’s a legal requirement • it makes good businessWEB WRITING sense • search engines rate it!
  • SEO • content, content, con tentWEB WRITING • page titles • alt text for images • keywords and metatags
  • In summary … • users don’t read • content is paramount,WEB WRITING but cut half the words • make it scannable, objective and conversational