MAKING SOCIAL MEDIA
WORK, BUILDING ON-LINE
CHANGING THE WORLD
Making Social Media Work
• Branding Everything!
• Manage Multiple Platforms
• Manage On-line Conflict
• Privacy is dead
• Comment Moderation/Blocking/Back Channels
(Hint: Use AoC’s)
• Best Practices (SMG pg 111)
Information from http://usability.gov/guidelines/ and
Oregon State University Extension.
• Research shows web readers prefer lean text. Imagine
your reader as impatient, even stressed—someone
looking for sources of succinct information. To write
Limit each paragraph to one idea.
Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence.
Use three or four sentences per paragraph.
Keep sentences short.
Use simple sentence structure.
Use plain language.
Be direct with your audience—use the personal pronoun
Avoid sentences in the passive voice.
• 1. Chunk your content.
• Help your audiences find the information they seek more efficiently. Readers
who scan don't like to scroll through long web pages. Chunk your information
into meaningful sections. Then:
• Size each chunk to fit on a single screen that carries a meaningful headline.
• Reduce word count by 50 percent when you edit print documents for the web.
• Chunk each page into a few paragraphs.
• 2. Present just the facts.
• Edit out all nonessential information. Avoid words and phrases that sound like
jargon. Avoid any jargon unless you’re targeting a specialized audience. Even
then, ask, will newcomers to the field understand what I mean?
• 3. Use appropriate key words in your text.
• for easy accessing by search engines and for readers who are scanning. Key
words are also an element of the metadata that’s important to the success of
• 4. Why rewrite something that's already on paper?
• All the evidence points to the inevitable: People won't read your page when it's
wordy, full of fluff or jargon, or not chunked into meaningful pieces. Remember,
people will enter your site from many different points. You can't expect web
users to read your content in a linear fashion.
Design for Easy Scanning
• Do whatever you can to attract and keep your clients coming back to your website
• 1. Make your fonts legible.
• Familiar serif and sans serif fonts are, in most cases, the best choice for publishing chunks of
text on the web. Verdana, Arial, and Helvetica are good sans serif choices. Georgia, Times New
Roman, and Times are good serif choices.
For ease of reading, use a font size of 10 point and above. 12 and 14 point are even better. Even
young readers don’t like tiny type. A size 3 character on the screen is roughly equal to 12-point
type of the same font.
Use upper and lower case in headings and text. Readers recognize words by their shape. A
word typed in all capitals looks like a rectangle, which slows your reader down.
Italics decrease legibility; use them sparingly.
Dark type on a light background reads and prints much better than light type on dark.
Remember that browser settings, whether altered by the user or not, determine what the user
• 2. Use the Journalist's Tool: The Inverted Pyramid.
• Web readers give you but a few seconds to persuade them you've got what they're looking for.
The inverted pyramid is the perfect device to grab readers looking for factual content.
Start with your conclusion and build down to the background information. Better still, link to
detailed and background information. Web readers will pursue what they want.
Design for Easy Scanning
• 3. Keep Line Lengths Short.
• Readers prefer to read web lines of 40 to 60 characters long—short lines are
easier on the eye. Most readers scan for information and have trouble finding it
in dense blocks of text.
• 4. Use Headlines and Subheads to Break Up Your Text.
• A good headline or subhead is brief, simple, and meaningful. Web surfers can
come to your site from many different directions, particularly when they’re using
a search tool that looks for key words. Thus, each page on your site should
carry a meaningful headline—one that can stand alone out of the context of the
rest of your pages.
A word about “welcome”… Web users are gathering information and want
quick access to that information. Don’t make the mistake of using “welcome” in
your title or main heading or writing a welcoming introduction to your site.
“Welcome” wastes a keyword and does nothing to help search engines find
you; a welcoming intro is superfluous.
• 5. Use Bullets and Numbered Lists.
• They're easier to read and scan. The format helps you more concisely shape
your content. Numbered lists help your readers pinpoint the next step. When
you bury the information in a paragraph, your readers get frustrated.
Design for Easy Scanning
• 6. Highlight Key Words.
• You'll help your readers scan more efficiently. Use a color—reserve blue for links—or simply use a
boldface font. Remember, only 20 percent of web readers read every word.
• 7. Balance Your Page.
• On your page, aligned rows, columns, subheadings, and graphic elements are easiest to
• 8. Provide Visual Navigation and Accessibility Aids.
• Graphics and words work together, and the reader uses both to navigate. Experienced surfers expect a
colored bar at the top or left of the page to offer links to key sections of the site. Although the center of
the page will attract attention first, most readers instinctively look to the top and side for navigational
Don’t put more than three carefully chosen words in button or text hyperlinks. If you can't succinctly
describe an area you’re linking to, try reorganizing.
When space is tight, don’t resort to squeezing in acronyms and abbreviations. If your readers don't
know what it is, they won't use it.
Don’t use icons alone; use them only as supplements to a word hyperlink.
Use hyperlinks within text blocks carefully. They may tempt your reader away from the text flow.
Consider a section of links in a block by themselves where they may also be easier for your reader to
find again later.
Group hyperlinks when you have a lot of them. Make these groups visually distinct.
Use alt tags with all buttons and graphics.
Don’t rely on colors for navigation.
Use graphics, but only when they’re integral to content. Keep graphics’ file sizes small to reduce
Design for Easy Scanning
• 9. Give your web page a descriptive title.
• The title, which appears above your browser tool bar, is used by
search engines to find your page. Include key words in your title.
Home pages for county Extension offices at Oregon State
University have titles like this: “Oregon State University Extension
Service, Columbia County,” which fits within the 65-character limit
Google uses to display titles on its search pages.
• 10. Provide a printer-friendly option of all your documents.
• Some users like to read and make notes on hard copies; others
fear the information may not always be available online.
Web readers look for marks of credibility when scanning a
web page. Here's how you can be credible:
•Make it clear who’s publishing your website. Web readers
are skeptical about content when they can't identify who’s
•Provide your credentials. You can link to this information.
•Link to high-quality, credible sites that support your
content. Readers sometimes like links to opposing points of
view, as well. Many interpret this as author objectivity.
Use your best Judgment
• You know when your audience and subject matter may make it appropriate to break the
rules. Apply a bit of the "less is better" principle. Ask for feedback from clients and coworkers, and you'll be on your way to having a web page or site that’s alluring, attractive, and
easy to read.
Go to http://usability.gov/guidelines/ for information about page length, scrolling vs. linking
and scrolling vs. paging, page density, information placement, formatting for efficient viewing,
use of links, and more.
For in-depth information about website content and design, try
Source: Kathy Wright and Susan Bale, 2001, Kansas State University Research and
Extension; adapted and updated, with permission, in 2006, with information from
http://usability.gov/guidelines/ and Oregon State University Extension.
Alt tags or text is copy that appears to users who mouse-over a missing graphic image (or
copy that’s “spoken” to sight-impaired users, with readers). Provide all your graphic images
with alt tags that describe the image and tell the reader its purpose.
Hyperlinks (or links) are words or graphics that enable you to link to another place in your
document or to a different document. Hyperlinks move you to the new place when you click
on them. Set text hyperlinks apart from regular copy by using a different font color (usually
blue) and underlining.