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Writing For The Web - NDF UnConference Day December 2007


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Writing For The Web - NDF UnConference Day December 2007

  1. 1. Writing for the Web Seven key ideas for writing killer web content Courtney Johnston Web Editor National Library of New Zealand
  2. 2. The long and the short of it <ul><li>Long page title / headline (4-10 words) </li></ul><ul><li>Long link-text </li></ul><ul><li>Short summary </li></ul><ul><li>Short words </li></ul><ul><li>Short sentences </li></ul><ul><li>Short paragraphs </li></ul><ul><li>Short pages </li></ul><ul><li>Adapted from Rachel McAlpine </li></ul>
  3. 3. Say it after me: KEYWORDS <ul><li>Help yourself: identifying the keywords for a page of content will help you sort and structure the information you present there. </li></ul><ul><li>Help your reader: skim readers are looking for the keywords that match the thing they’re looking for. </li></ul><ul><li>Help the search engines: search engines like Google ‘read’ the words in your URLs, page titles, headings; if your keywords appear here, they will help you page on search results. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Keyword tools <ul><li>Think: what is my visitor coming to this page to find out about / do? </li></ul><ul><li>Look at server logs and web statistics if you can – what words are your visitors searching on? (e.g. ‘family history’ or ‘genealogy’?) </li></ul><ul><li>Use Google Trends to test synonymous keywords and see which is more popular with web searchers. www. google .com/trends </li></ul>
  5. 5. F-shaped skim readers <ul><li>Web readers are: </li></ul><ul><li>Searching for the keywords they’re interested in </li></ul><ul><li>Reading twice as fast as they read print </li></ul><ul><li>Skimming headlines, the first words in paragraphs, link text, anything in bold or italics. </li></ul><ul><li>Image from Jakob Neilson </li></ul>
  6. 6. Omit the extra words in your copy <ul><li>Edit edit edit. </li></ul><ul><li>Half the length of what you’d write for print. </li></ul><ul><li>Most important information first. Committed readers will scroll. </li></ul><ul><li>Use ‘I’ and ‘you’. </li></ul><ul><li>Active sentences. </li></ul><ul><li>Look for the usual culprits: of, because, which was, who is. These usually indicate extra words that can be deleted. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Special offer! This week only! <ul><li>Be specific. You never know when you’ll get around to updating a page or removing content, so let your reader know if dates and such like are still relevant to them </li></ul><ul><li>Not ‘this week’ but ‘12-16 November’. Not ‘in the central city’ but ‘in Wellington’. Not ‘last year’ but ‘2006’. </li></ul><ul><li>Date all documents, events, deadlines, and include the year. </li></ul><ul><li>Get consistent with the way you refer to your organisation, location, staff positions, how you format contact details. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Click here <ul><li>Descriptive link text: tell readers where they’re going or what they’re doing. It’s also good for search engines. </li></ul><ul><li>Download the registration form </li></ul><ul><li>Go to Te Ara </li></ul><ul><li>Website standards – State Services Commission website </li></ul><ul><li>Warn readers about PDFs </li></ul><ul><li>Have consistent ways of writing link text on your site </li></ul><ul><li>A blog post on link text is available on LibraryTechNZ . </li></ul>
  9. 9. Formatting for success <ul><li>White space </li></ul><ul><li>Headings and subheadings </li></ul><ul><li>Bulletted and numbered lists. [NB: up to 7 items. Remember – each item you add to the list makes the other items harder to find.] </li></ul><ul><li>Useful pictures (with alt text) </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid bold and italics – they interrupt the flow of reading, and sometiems draw undue attention to phrases. </li></ul><ul><li>Numbers as numerals (13, not thirteen) are easier to read online. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Ignoring the rules <ul><li>Blog writing should be funny, punny, impassioned, informal, irate, tangential – whatever. </li></ul><ul><li>But: if you want to help people find your blog posts, use keywords in your post titles, and use descriptive text in your links. </li></ul><ul><li>And: keep spell checking. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Steal my ideas <ul><li>http://ma. gnolia .com/people/best-of-3/tags </li></ul><ul><li>Tags: web writing, web content, blog writing advice, search engine optimization, user-centred design. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Steal other people’s ideas … <ul><li>Rachel McAlpine </li></ul><ul><li>Image from Jakob Neilson </li></ul><ul><li>Copyblogger www. copyblogger .com </li></ul><ul><li>ProBlogger www. problogger .net </li></ul><ul><li>Skelliewag www. skelliewag .org </li></ul><ul><li>SEOmoz (search engine optimisation) www. seomoz .org/ blog </li></ul>… with a feedreader RSS and feedreader background – National Library website
  13. 13. Random bits of advice <ul><li>Use your e-calendar to set reminders to remove content with a use-by date. </li></ul><ul><li>Use a bookmarking site to collect and annotate useful articles. See the CommonCraft Bookmarking video for an introduction. I use http://ma.gnolia. com . </li></ul><ul><li>Use the Readability Statistics in word (under ‘Spelling and Grammar’) to get a feel for the length of words, sentences, paragraphs, and number of passive sentences. </li></ul><ul><li>I blog about writing for the web and related matters on </li></ul>