Writing for the Web


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This presentation will present insights into web user psychology, how to think about and write for the web, how to identify common content mistakes and how writing for the web will improve your search engine rankings.

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Writing for the Web

  1. 1. northwoodsoft.comLearnAtNorthwoods.comPresented by: Patrick Bieser, PresidentWritingV3hfor the Web
  2. 2. Summary of Today’s Presentation• About Northwoods• Part 1: Principles of Usability• Part 2: Content For Users• Part 3: Content For Search Engines• How they work together• Lots of Examples
  3. 3. The Story of NorthwoodsNorthwoods Founded12 Employees1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011Inc. 500AwardTitan CMSV1.0Best Place toWork AwardInc. 500AwardFuture 50AwardNew Location33,000 Sq Ft50 EmployeesTitan CMSV3.0Top 25MilwaukeeSoftwareCompaniesTitan CMSV4.0Titan CMSV5.0Largest SoftwareEngineering WebMarketing Firm inWisconsin400 Intranets, Extranets,Public Websites on TitanCMS1,000,000 UniqueVisitors to TitanSites DailyTitan User’s GroupFirst Meeting5,000 Editors /Authors in TitanWeekly FreeWorkshopsTitan CMSV5.92012
  4. 4. IDENTIFYAudience ProfileSEOAnalyticsAsset InventoryUsability TestingHeatmap StudyCompetitive AnalysisEDUCATEContent StrategyFeaturesApplicationsDesign StrategyIA & Site MapWireframesCompositesUsabilitySpecificationsPRODUCEContentDigital AssetsCMSFront End DevelopmentBack End DevelopmentMobileHostingMEASUREAnalyticsA/B TestingSEOUsability TestingLanding PagesMARKETeNewsletterBlogsRSS FeedsSocial MediaAdvertisingSEMCampaignsPlanning Your Website RedesignWriting for the WebSocial Media – Doing it RightNorthwoods Digital Strategy FrameworkRetainGrowResearch Engage Inform ConvertRetainGrowMobile Website Best PracticesEmerging Trends in Web DesignSuccessful Online CatalogsWorkshopsSEO Best PracticesAdvanced Google Analytics
  5. 5. Part 1 –Principles ofUsability
  6. 6. 98% of Websites Try To….• Generate Traffic• Keep Visitors Engaged• Drive Conversions– Awareness– Affinity– List Building• Signup for an Event / Demo• Download a Paper / Subscribe– Customer Acquisition• Sale• Appointment– Customer Retention– Evangelist Building• This Workshop is not aimed at the 2%– Branding/PR Websites (Most Agencies, McDonalds, etc.)Principles of Usability
  7. 7. 52 Million Visitors / Month9.6% Conversion RatePrinciples of Usability
  8. 8. Someone at Amazon is payingattention to search results ….Results give essentials neededto make a quick decision.Principles of Usability
  9. 9. Principles of Usability
  10. 10. Principles of Usability
  11. 11. Principles of Usability
  12. 12. Amazon’s Focus on Usability1. Powerful Search2. Exhaustive and Useful Information3. One Page for Information4. Clean and Simple Layout5. Simple ConversionPrinciples of Usability
  13. 13. Web users scan. They don’t read!ScanPrinciples of Usability
  14. 14. Where’s the Beef?Principles of Usability
  15. 15. 232 users. Three websitesSource: Jakob Nielsen Alertbox, April 17, 2006www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.htmlPrinciples of Usability
  16. 16. Why Scan?• Goal oriented• Content gatherers• In a hurry• Web sites are active. “Click Something”Principles of Usability
  17. 17. Principles of Usability
  18. 18. Conversions 101• Four Types of Visitors– Browsers: Not sure. Unmet need.– Evaluators: Compare. Detailed information.– Transactors: Ready to buy or convert– Customers: Sustain satisfaction so they buy again.• “Do you have what I need?”• “Should I get it from you?”• When solution is good enough, users stoplooking.Principles of Usability
  19. 19. Usability 101• If a user can’t find something easily, itdoesn’t exist• Users get frustrated easily• If you emphasize too many items in oneview frame, all lose importanceA wealth of information creates a poverty of attention– Herbert SimonPrinciples of Usability
  20. 20. Usability 101• Users want information• Users are annoyed by– Marketing blah, blah, blah– Flash, too much movement, unnecessary graphics– Pages slow to load– Pages short on substance– Content that is hard to scan– Too many choices (too much thinking)– Small fonts, frames, inline scrolling, pull downs,and much morePrinciples of Usability
  21. 21. Scan Study – Banner BlindnessPrinciples of Usability
  22. 22. Scan StudyPutting the answer to a typical users main question in big red type at the top of yourhomepage would guarantee high usability, right? Wrong — at least for the U.S. CensusBureaus homepage, where 86% of users failed to find the countrys current population whenit was presented in large red numbers.Principles of Usability
  23. 23. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at CmabrigdeUinervtisy, it deosnt mttaer in waht oredr theltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihngis taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghitpclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deosnot raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod asa wlohe.Principles of Usability
  24. 24. Principles of Usability
  25. 25. Principles of Usability
  26. 26. Long TailLow home page entrancePrinciples of Usability
  27. 27. Principles of Usability
  28. 28. Writing Tips• No marketing lingo or brands in navigation• No “happy talk,” welcome messages, orinstructionsPrinciples of Usability
  29. 29. Home Page - I• Magic 7 for Main Navigation• Group Corporate Stuff and Utilities– stock price, contact us, search, site map, login, etc.• User will ignore anything that looks, reads orsmells like marketing or ads.• 80% of users only read headlinesPrinciples of Usability
  30. 30. Task: Buy a Baby Girl GiftPrinciples of Usability
  31. 31. Task: Buy a Baby Girl GiftPrinciples of Usability
  32. 32. Home Page - II• Use conventions of popular sites– search– site map– breadcrumbs– logo click takes you to Home PagePrinciples of Usability
  33. 33. Principles of Usability
  34. 34. Principles of Usability
  35. 35. Principles of Usability
  36. 36. Principles of Usability
  37. 37. Principles of Usability
  38. 38. Principles of Usability
  39. 39. Marketing vs. Selling• The purpose marketing– Grab eyeballs– Create an impression– Build brand awareness– Drive traffic• The purpose of a website– Offer intuitive and useful information,without annoying or confusing your visitor,so they will reach a goal page and convert.Principles of Usability
  40. 40. Part 2 –Usability Testing& Your Team
  41. 41. Group Usability StudyCan you find…Usability Testing & Your Team
  42. 42. October 16, 2006Usability Testing & Your Team
  43. 43. Usability Testing• Informal• As few as 3-5 users• Low cost and effectiveUsability Testing & Your Team
  44. 44. Usability Methods• Paper Prototype:– What would you click on?• Card Sorting:– Index cards of all navigation items– Group top and second level navigation– Name the groups• Current Site:– Ten tasks– Tape it– Talk out loud– Watch the tapeUsability Testing & Your Team
  45. 45. WebDesignersExecutives IT MarketingUsability Testing & Your Team
  46. 46. Stereotypes of Key InfluencersWeb Designers• Are not normal• They are power users• Don’t think / behave like our audiences• Went to school to learn: visual design, brandingor marketing for print, TV, radio.• Not taught about usability, designing for theweb, writing for the web• Hire to be creative and clever, not to followconventions• Need to sit through usability tests of theirdesigns• Need to attend this workshopUsability Testing & Your Team
  47. 47. Stereotypes of Key InfluencersDirectors / Executives• Have a skewed list of favorite web sites• Want more “Sizzle” and “Wow”• Are uninformed on complexities of digitalstrategies• Reluctant to fund what they don’t understand• Listen to well meaning people they trust who are(too often) equally uninformed• Need to be patiently educated by credible sourcesUsability Testing & Your Team
  48. 48. Stereotypes of Key InfluencersIT Professionals• Web is a technology• Branding? Usability? Whatever….• Tools, certifications, platforms, and integrationneeds• The IT solution? Better tools and newest versions• (Tools only solve 1/3 of the problem)• Fail to calculate importance of staff skills• Need to have their web sensitivity patientlyincreased by credible sourcesUsability Testing & Your Team
  49. 49. Stereotypes of Key InfluencersMarketing Types• Too much emphasis on look and feel• Web is extension of branding initiatives• Assume print and web copy are mostly thesame• Too much time on home page• Not enough time on content & conversionstrategy• Need to read ‘Don’t Make Me Think’Usability Testing & Your Team
  50. 50. A Complete SolutionToolsTeamDigital StrategyUsability Testing & Your Team
  51. 51. Web Team Structure for SuccessNewBusinessDeveloperProject /AccountManagerFront EndDeveloperWebDesignerContentStrategistInformationArchitectUserExperienceArchitectWebUsabilitySpecialistBack EndDeveloperCMSContentSupportCMSTechnicalSupportEditor inChief(Webmaster)WebWriter(Journalist)SEOSpecialistAnalyticsSpecialistServerAdminBusinessAnalystDatabaseAdminExecutiveSponsorGovernanceGroupCMSVendorConsultantEcommerce/ MobileSpecialistsSecuritySpecialistSocialMediaSpecialistDigitalStrategistSteeringCommitteeProductionAssistantsUsability Testing & Your Team
  52. 52. Skills and Roles From NorthwoodsNewBusinessDeveloperProject /AccountManagerFront EndDeveloperWebDesignerContentStrategistInformationArchitectUserExperienceArchitectWebUsabilitySpecialistBack EndDeveloperCMSContentSupportCMSTechnicalSupportEditor inChief(Webmaster)WebWriter(Journalist)SEOSpecialistAnalyticsSpecialistServerAdminBusinessAnalystDatabaseAdminExecutiveSponsorGovernanceGroupCMSVendorConsultantSecuritySpecialistSocialMediaSpecialistDigitalStrategistSteeringCommitteeProductionAssistantEcommerce/ MobileSpecialistsUsability Testing & Your Team
  53. 53. Solutions• Content strategy• Design inside out• Include executives in early meetings• Usability testing• CMS based on vendor skill / resourceavailability• Invite Northwoods to tailor this seminar foryour team and stakeholdersUsability Testing & Your Team
  54. 54. Part 3 –Content for Users
  55. 55. See, Scan, Sell (Convert)• Usability• Relevance and Credibility• Webanized Content• Content Voice and Style• ConversionsContent for Users
  56. 56. Critical Seconds…• First 2 Seconds: Credibility– Emotion, Impression, Brand• Next 3 Seconds: Relevance– Content• Next 2 Seconds: Decision– Stay or Go?Content for Users
  57. 57. Offline vs. Online ContentContent for Users
  58. 58. Content for Users
  59. 59. VisualOrganizationBulletedListsHeaders thataremeaningfulBold TextWhite SpaceShortParagraphsContent for Users
  60. 60. Destination Page Scan PatternsContent for Users
  61. 61. Voice and StyleContent for Users
  62. 62. Five Web Sites• Task Time• Errors• Memory• Time to Draw the Site Map• Subjective SatisfactionContent for Users
  63. 63. Typical Promotional TextNebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions thatdraw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996,some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park(355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166),Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge(86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), andBuffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).Scanability Score: 0 (Assumed)*Source: NNGroup.comContent for Users
  64. 64. Objective LanguageNebraska has several attractions. In 1996, some of the most-visited places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors),Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge StateHistorical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), StuhrMuseum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill RanchState Historical Park (28,446).Scanability Score: 27%*Source: NNGroup.comContent for Users
  65. 65. More Scanable LayoutNebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions thatdraw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996,some of the most popular places were:• Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors)• Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166)• Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000)• Carhenge (86,598)• Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002)• Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).Scanability Score: 47%*Source: NNGroup.comContent for Users
  66. 66. Made More ConciseIn 1996, six of the best-attended attractions in Nebraska wereFort Robinson State Park, Scotts Bluff National Monument, ArborLodge State Historical Park & Museum, Carhenge, Stuhr Museumof the Prairie Pioneer, and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.Scanability Score: 58%*Source: NNGroup.comContent for Users
  67. 67. All of the AboveIn 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were:• Fort Robinson State Park• Scotts Bluff National Monument• Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum• Carhenge• Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer• Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical ParkScanability Score: 124%*Source: NNGroup.comContent for Users
  68. 68. Conversion Rate Increase of 189%Content for Users
  69. 69. Use Specific LanguageExample 1Original: “…we provide reliable services…”Optimized: “All our solutions are backed by Service LevelGuarantees with cash rebates for under-performance: 1)99.99% uptime guarantee 2) guaranteed response time 3)guaranteed time to repair”Example 2Original: “Fully managed dedicated services by the hostingexperts…. Backed by proven accreditations”Optimized: “We are the only data center to hold ISO27001,SunTone, RedHat and DSD certifications”Content for Users
  70. 70. Scanability Tips• Never Center or Right Justify Text• Bold Selectively• Never Underline unless it’s a link• Always remember to Lead with Keywords• -as in-• Keywords should Lead• Be Consistent with Layouts, Fonts, Colors,etc.• Attend to Details on Alignment and SpacingContent for Users
  71. 71. How Would You Fix….Content for Users
  72. 72. Content for Users
  73. 73. Content for Users
  74. 74. Content for Users
  75. 75. How Would You Fix….Content for Users
  76. 76. Meaningless Headline(Cute Marketing)No TaglineMeaningless FirstSentence. Hard to ScanText. No Keywords. Toomuch textNo Clues inNavigation. Non-StandardWhat?What?Content for Users
  77. 77. Content for Users
  78. 78. Flytrap Your ContentContent for Users
  79. 79. Fly TrappingNavigation Embedded in TextGoogle LOVESLinksDon’t Over FlytrapContent for Users
  80. 80. Writing Link Tips – Link TextLinks• Worst: The service committee has many excellent resources on their website.• Bad: The service committee has many excellent resources on their website.• Best: Find many excellent resources on the service committee’s website.Content for Users
  81. 81. Part 4 –Content forSearch Engines
  82. 82. What Search Engines Care About• Search Engine Spiders Care About– Title Tags– Meta Descriptions– H1, H2, H3, etc.– Page Content Keywords– Content Position– Links• Search Engine Spiders Don’t CareAbout:– Sizzle, Emotion, Credibility, Brand or FlashContent for Search Engines
  83. 83. Title TagMetaDescriptionContent for Search Engines
  84. 84. Title TagH2H1H2H2Content for Search Engines
  85. 85. TitleMetaDescriptionContent for Search Engines
  86. 86. TitleMetaDescriptionContent for Search Engines
  87. 87. Spider SimulatorContent for Search Engines
  88. 88. Content for Search Engines
  89. 89. Content for Search Engines
  90. 90. Content for Search Engines
  91. 91. A Few ClientsContent for Search Engines
  92. 92. Content for Search Engines
  93. 93. Content for Search Engines
  94. 94. Content for Search Engines
  95. 95. Which Test Won?Content for Search Engines
  96. 96. Version BContent for Search Engines
  97. 97. Which Test Won?Content for Search Engines
  98. 98. Version BContent for Search Engines
  99. 99. Which Test Won?Content for Search Engines
  100. 100. Version AContent for Search Engines
  101. 101. Which Test Won?Content for Search Engines
  102. 102. Version AContent for Search Engines
  103. 103. “It’s not the number of clicks...it’s how hard each click is!”- Steve KrugContent for Search Engines
  104. 104. About NorthwoodsWEBSITE DESIGNSOFTWAREDEVELOPMENT SOLUTIONS LEARNINGSince1998 Websites Mobile Intranets ExtranetsAwards Web Apps Mobile Apps Custom BackendIntegration Digital Strategy Verticals CMS Our team Our clients CommunityStrategic Web Solutions Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies MMAC Future 50 Best Place to Work Largest Software Engineering Firm Top 25 Software Companies Enterprise Content Management Data Management & Display Document Management & Display Enterprise Security Uncannily Easy to Use
  105. 105. • Writing for the Web• Planning Your Website Redesign• Social Media – Doing it Right• SEO Analysis – Getting Started• Google Analytics – An Introduction• Emerging Trends in Web DesignLearnAtNorthwoods.com• The ABC’s of SEO• Enhanced SEO in 10 Minutes• Better Non-Profit Websites• Responsive Web Design Strategies• Titan CMS Overview• Intranet Best Practices• Better Websites in 10 Minutes• Successful Online Product CatalogsLearn More at Northwoods
  106. 106. Connect with us.STRATEGIC WEB SOLUTIONSnorthwoodsoft.comLearnAtNorthwoods.comTitanCMS.com