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Writing Vibrant, Compelling Copy

Slides from talk at Confab2011, May 2011, Minneapolis, MN. About web content as conversation, based on Letting Go of the Words -- Writing Web Content that Works.

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Writing Vibrant, Compelling Copy

  1. 1. Writing Vibrant, Compelling Copy − the Content in Content Strategy Janice (Ginny) Redish, Ph.D. Redish & Associates, Inc. Bethesda, Maryland [email_address] @GinnyRedish Ginny Redish Minneapolis May 2011 #Confab #grcf
  2. 2. Tell your latest web story <ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What were you trying to do or what were you looking for? </li></ul></ul>To satisfy their goals Content Information To do a task <ul><li>People just want to </li></ul><ul><li>answer their question </li></ul><ul><li>solve a problem </li></ul><ul><li>do a task </li></ul><ul><li>share, contribute </li></ul>Flickr cc photo by russelljsmith
  3. 3. Navigation and search are critical
  4. 4. Good, clear design is critical
  5. 5. Technology that works is critical
  6. 6. But they all support the content
  7. 7. Content = everything <ul><li>text </li></ul><ul><li>illustrations </li></ul><ul><li>charts </li></ul><ul><li>graphs </li></ul><ul><li>tables </li></ul><ul><li>forms </li></ul><ul><li>pdfs </li></ul><ul><li>videos </li></ul><ul><li>podcasts </li></ul><ul><li>blogs </li></ul><ul><li>forums </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook LinkedIn Twitter other social media </li></ul>
  8. 8. Content strategy = Think strategically about your content Planned Coordinated Managed Reviewed Maintained Removed Message Tone Style
  9. 9. Content = conversation
  10. 10. <ul><li>On most sites, the site visitor starts the conversation. </li></ul>How well does your web site converse? Theme = content as conversation Flickr cc photo by Bradleyolin Lost. No problem. Use the computer!
  11. 11. Plan − at every level Think first. Write second. How does this topic / this page / this message fit into the content strategy? Why? − Purposes Who ? − Personas When and why? − Personas' conversations
  12. 12. Purposes − focus on people <ul><li>sell shoes </li></ul><ul><li>have people buy our shoes </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>inform people about .. </li></ul><ul><li>answer people's questions about … </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>increase subscriptions </li></ul><ul><li>have site visitors be so engaged with us </li></ul><ul><li>that they subscribe </li></ul>© iStockphoto We want to
  13. 13. Personas − with names and relevant attributes <ul><li>Web sites, apps, documents − exist only to have people </li></ul><ul><li>interact with them. </li></ul>Flickr cc photo by pedrosimeos7 © iStockphoto © iStockphoto © iStockphoto
  14. 14. Conversations Flickr cc photo by Polandeze What is your site visitor's goal? question? need? What words are in your site visitor's mind? For good SEO and successful site search, the keywords in your site must match the keywords site visitors use.
  15. 15. Conversing successfully with vibrant, compelling copy - 1 <ul><li>Imagine the conversation as you design. </li></ul><ul><li>Don't hog the conversation. Take turns. </li></ul><ul><li>Start with a title that works for your site visitors. </li></ul><ul><li>Answer your site visitors' questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Let the conversation flow from &quot;known&quot; to &quot;new.&quot; </li></ul>
  16. 16. Imagine the conversation as you design Which link should we click on?
  17. 17.
  18. 18. started 2007 Less than 2 years, tracking $200 billion Bought by Intuit 2009 $170 Million Imagine the conversation as you design Flickr cc photo by Mr.Thomas Ron and Jen use Mint. Should we?
  19. 19. Mint has more than 4 million users who know their information is always secure . That's because we use 128-bit SSL encryption - the same security that banks use - and all data is protected and validated by VeriSign and TRUSTe. Plus, since Mint is read-only, no money can be moved in or out of any account. Learn more> Sounds good. But is it safe?
  20. 20. Old CDC page; CDC has revised this and most other health information, following the content as conversation model.
  21. 21. Don't hog the conversation. Take turns Headings are the site visitor's turns in the conversation. /home/common/mentalhealth/stress/167.html
  22. 22. Start with a title that works for your site visitors <ul><li>Think not only about site visitors who should click on a link; also think about who should not be tempted by the link. </li></ul>Roadmap for Performance-based Navigation Can I get roadmaps here? FAA's strategic plan for the next 5 years How much do Americans pay for fruits and vegetables? ✗
  23. 23. <ul><li>Which of these work well? Which do not? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>L.I. Harvests May Signal a Comeback for Scallops </li></ul><ul><li>Can the World Reach an Agreement on Climate Change? </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Sign In Subscribe Now </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Chemical Plans </li></ul><ul><li>QuickCards </li></ul>
  24. 24. Answer your site visitors' questions Flickr photo by pedrosimeos7 Oh! I think I like that bag, but I wonder…
  25. 25. Approved fumigation with methyl bromide at normal atmospheric pressure, in accordance with the following procedure, upon arrival at the port of entry, is hereby prescribed as a condition of importation for shipments of yams from foreign countries. How would you say this in a conversation? Flickr cc photo by Seattle Municipal Archives
  26. 26. Did you say something like this? If you are importing yams, [someone] must fumigate them when they arrive at the port of entry. To fumigate yams, [someone] must use this procedure: Clark and Haviland, Comprehension and the given-new contract, In R. Freedle (Ed.), Discourse production and comprehension , 1975, Erlbaum, 1-40. Let the conversation flow from &quot;known&quot; to &quot;new&quot; new context = given, known then
  27. 27. Conversing successfully with vibrant, compelling copy - 2 <ul><li>Help people &quot;grab and go.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Write to your site visitors. </li></ul><ul><li>Put people and actions in your copy. </li></ul><ul><li>Converse in forms, too. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep the conversation going to a successful end. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Help people &quot;grab and go&quot; When's my new computer going to arrive?
  29. 29. Check order status. That's what I want to do. No need to read; I'll just click.
  30. 30. Caroline's case study, Letting Go , Chapter 6
  31. 31. Talk to your site visitors
  32. 34. Put people and actions in your copy When you finish renewing online, you can print your registration card. Upon successful completion of the online renewal transaction, printing the registration card will be an option.
  33. 35. Converse in forms, too Experienced web visitors can &quot;hear&quot; conversation in a form like this. Caroline Jarrett
  34. 36. Even more conversational Why are apps like TurboTax so popular?
  35. 37. Even more conversational /
  36. 38. Keep the conversation going to a successful end <ul><li>Dead-ends are deadly online. </li></ul><ul><li>Always offer links to continue </li></ul><ul><ul><li>more information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>purchase </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>contact information (on the page as well as in the global links) </li></ul></ul>© iStockphoto
  37. 39. /Loan-Rates.aspx I wonder if my credit union can give me a good rate on a car loan.
  38. 40. Conversing successfully with vibrant, compelling copy - 3 <ul><li>Review your copy before you publish it. </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate through your personas and their conversations. </li></ul>
  39. 41. Review your copy before you publish it © iStockphoto What about that sweater? Oh! They messed up there.
  40. 42. Evaluate through your personas and their conversations <ul><li>Do usability testing! </li></ul><ul><li>Even before that: </li></ul><ul><li>Walk your personas through their conversations. </li></ul><ul><li>See the site through their eyes with their words. </li></ul>
  41. 43. Think conversation for all your content ✗ ✗ ✗ ✔
  42. 44. Morgan Kaufmann / Elsevier, 2007 Ginny Redish [email_address] 301 229 3039 @GinnyRedish Ginny Redish Want more? Full-day workshop, June 2 Chicago Thank you