Writing for the Web


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A workshop for web authors at the Institute of Education (IOE), University of London.

Developed and delivered by Amy Chamier, web editor in the marketing and development unit.

Published in: Education, Technology, Design
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Writing for the Web

  1. 1. Writing for the Web Amy Chamier, Web Editor
  2. 2. Why write differently? We read websites differently to print publications.
  3. 3. Why write differently? Group exercise: compare reading a book with reading a website.
  4. 4. Why write differently? Readers are more impatient. Average visit on IOE website lasts 7 minutes. “Design your website from the 'I badly need to go to the loo' perspective. Your visitor needs to act and act quickly”.
  5. 5. Why write differently? Readers tire more quickly. Reading on computer screens is 25% slower. And it puts more strain on the eyes.
  6. 6. Why write differently? Readers scan pages. Scan for key information - and skip the rest. Often scan in F pattern.
  7. 7. Why write differently? Readers start anywhere, and go anywhere. 50% enter IOE website via home page. 50% enter via 2000 other pages.
  8. 8. Understanding your audience Great websites are audience-centred.
  9. 9. Understanding your audience Before you start writing. 1. Who is your key audience? 2. What task do they want to complete? 3. What information do they need? 4. What functionality do they need? 5. What “added value” content can you give them?
  10. 10. Understanding your audience Exercise 1: see worksheet.
  11. 11. Seven golden rules 1. Be audience-focussed. • write for your audience, not for yourself • don’t exclude people by making assumptions • be friendly • be engaging
  12. 12. Seven golden rules 2. Organise your content. • split information into sub-categories • choose categories that are relevant to your key audience
  13. 13. Seven golden rules 3. Be succinct. • write 50% fewer words • put detailed background information into a pdf
  14. 14. Seven golden rules Exercise 2: see worksheet. Leadership in education Our programmes will develop your thinking, and give you practical solutions, to keep you ahead in this fast-moving field. We believe that leadership in learning involves all stakeholders, including practioners, pupils, students, bursars and governors. (40 words)
  15. 15. Seven golden rules 4. Write scannable pages. • use the inverted pyramid style of writing • break up pages into sections • aim for one point per paragraph • put important information at the start of a paragraph • high-light keywords • use links to provide supporting information • use bulleted lists to present a series of points
  16. 16. Seven golden rules 5. Write easy-to-read pages. • keep sentences and paragraphs short • use plain, everyday language • create short pages
  17. 17. Seven golden rules 6. Write self-contained pages. • each page should make sense when read on its own • give absolute, not relative, timeframes • quote the source and date on documents
  18. 18. Seven golden rules 7. Be credible. • stick to the facts • use neutral rather than boastful language • keep your pages up-to-date, proof-read and relevant • ask an outsider to test your pages
  19. 19. Seven golden rules Exercise 3: see worksheet. Compare IOE with Birkbeck.
  20. 20. Technical tips Search engine optimisation (SEO). External and internal search engines use “on” and “off” page content. Get keywords into your page content (title, headings, link text, captions). Use “page keywords” for alternatives. Make your “page description” an elevator pitch.
  21. 21. Technical tips Writing link text. NEVER use click here. “Please support our Centenary Scholarships fund. “Find out more about Holocaust Education (external website)”. “Download Professor Reiss’s lecture (Powerpoint, 0.5mb)”. “Watch an interview with Mary Stiasny (video)”. Contact Amy Chamier. Contact web.editor@ioe.ac.uk
  22. 22. Technical tips Accessibility. ALT text: should describe the content, concisely If the image includes text, write it out word for word Don’t use images, audio or video alone, to convey important information – always include a text equivalent
  23. 23. Technical tips The law. Copyright. Data protection.
  24. 24. Using feedback Web statistics. • identify the busiest times of the year for your web pages • experiment with content changes to see if they improve page performance • measure conversion rates
  25. 25. Using feedback User testing. • recruit a few volunteers (1-5) • ask them to perform a set of key tasks • sit next to them and get to speak their thoughts out loud • note where they have problems
  26. 26. Using feedback Exercise 4: see worksheet.
  27. 27. Amy Chamier, Web Editor