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04 Feb 10 Jour3340 Writing For The Web


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UNT Professor Neil Foote's course notes

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04 Feb 10 Jour3340 Writing For The Web

  1. 1. How Readers Read & Writing for the Web<br />February 4, 2010<br />JOUR 3340 – Online Journalism <br />
  2. 2. PoynterEyetracking Study<br />How readers read newspapers & websites<br />Helps us understand how we write, how we use images, how we use multimedia<br /><br />
  3. 3. “Eyetracking: Poynter’s Study<br />“This has everything to do with journalism. How people consume information, how they comprehend information it is a huge piece of the puzzle. If you can’t provide information in ways they can understand it and access it, then you’re wasting your time as a journalist. And we can’t afford to waste time.”<br />Keith Woods, Dean, Poynter Institute of Journalism<br />
  4. 4. Why it matters<br />“We have learned as an industry we are backward in research and that we are not seizing the new technologies and discoveries of recent years. … As an industry we must improve and expand, or we dwindle and die.”<br />Nelson Poynter<br />Nov. 2, 1946<br />
  5. 5. Key Observations<br />More story text read online, than print<br />And most read all the text<br />Jumps were read<br />Two types of readers<br />Methodical – Mainly ‘print’ readers<br />Read top to bottom<br />Re-read some material<br />Use drop down boxes, nav bars, searches<br />Read a higher percentage of text <br />
  6. 6. Key Observations<br />Scanners – Mainly online readers<br />‘Scan’ headlines and text, never reading any one story specifically<br />Read parts of stories, look at photos<br />Look at story lists to choose stories<br />The response (Page 31) <br />Media has to move to alternative storytelling<br />More interactive elements<br />Q&A, a timeline, a fact box or a list – drew a higher amount of visual attention, compared to regular text in print.<br />On average, we saw 15 percent more attention to what we call alternative story forms than to regular text in print. This number rose to 30 percent in broadsheet format.<br />
  7. 7. Key Observations<br />Graphics Elements<br />Big is better: Headlines & Photos<br />Large, color photos (p. 45)<br />Mug shots get lost<br />Online readers use the navigational elements<br />
  8. 8. Writing Style – ‘Chunking’<br />Information broken into ‘chunks’ of information.<br />Web users prefer to print out long documents or save them on their hard drives. <br />Long stories on the web are hard to read. The more a reader needs to scroll, the less likely they are to read the story.<br />Source: Webstyle Guide:<br />
  9. 9. Style tips from Poynter<br />Make it tight and bright<br />Explain<br />“Banish gray” – long blocks of text<br />Link, link, link<br /><br />
  10. 10. Writing Style – ‘Chunking’<br />Organizing information into relevant ‘chunks’ helps keep the reader interested. Facilitates adding links to enhance interactivity. Be careful: Don’t divide content into too many parts or readers will lose interest. <br />Chunking is a method to create consistency of web style, and helps readers understand the content flow on your site.<br />Source: Webstyle Guide:<br />
  11. 11. Writing Style<br />Headlines – Compelling – <br />On the web, headlines sell the story<br />Six to 10 words <br />Strong verbs <br />Most important items first<br />Question headlines workable<br />Blurbs<br />Summaries of story, often on home page and linked to full length story<br />Briefs<br />A complete story in just a few sentences.<br />Scannable<br />Remember readers don’t have time. They want to get the information they want and move on to the next story.<br />
  12. 12. Writing Style<br />Conversational style<br />Cross between broadcast writing and print<br />Lively verbs, colorful adjectives and distinct nouns.<br />Active voice always!<br />Short paragraphs<br />Be aware of references to your sources<br />Consider using full name on second reference because you don’t know how story may link<br />
  13. 13. Additional Style Tips<br />Consider one idea per paragraph – even if it’s just one sentence.<br />Write in easily understood sentences.<br />Include links as part of your copy<br />E.g. Bill Gates [link to his bio] created Microsoft [link to] at a time when PCs were just beginning to become commonplace.<br />Think Globally. Avoid regional/local terms that may be misunderstood by the broader audience.<br />Develop a voice, a style, a flow.<br />
  14. 14. Web Story Structure<br />Get to the point<br />Story must be told in 50 words ... Then your reader MIGHT read the rest<br />REMEMBER: only about 100-150 lines per screen… and less if a reader is looking at story on a PDA.<br />Make everything you write relevant.<br />Constantly ask yourself: <br />Why should the reader care about this? <br />What elements of interactivity can be used to engage the reader to make the content more compelling?<br />