Writing for the web


Published on

This writing for the web presentation was originally created in 2004. It's currently being updated and will be used for an upcoming webinar.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Writing for the web

  1. 1. “ Good writing…must capture the reader immediately and force him to keep reading.” - William Zinsser, On Writing Well.
  2. 2. <ul><li>Synopsis </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it short </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it simple </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it CP </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Nature of the Web </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-Web users expect something more active than reading </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Content, design and navigation interact </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Function of Content </li></ul><ul><li>Content serves four primary functions online </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Educate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Navigate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Initiate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Relationship </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Content Managers </li></ul><ul><li>Know the purpose of the website </li></ul><ul><li>Understand why the audience visits </li></ul><ul><li>Influence design, layout and content </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Write for your reader </li></ul><ul><li>Use a casual style – speak to the user as though one-on-one. </li></ul><ul><li>Be concise and clear. </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize scrolling on navigation pages. </li></ul><ul><li>Update information on a regular basis. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Less is more </li></ul><ul><li>Web users have a very short attention span </li></ul><ul><li>Keep your text to a bare minimum </li></ul><ul><li>If you can find a shorter word that has the same meaning, go short. </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize use of cliches, superlatives. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Be Concise </li></ul><ul><li>Rule of thumb - 1/2 as many words as print but sometimes even less </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be too short - brevity can affect clarity </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid vague references - be specific </li></ul>
  9. 9. “ Don’t write about the thing you’re selling. Write about the people to whom you’re selling it.” - Nick Usborne
  10. 10. <ul><li>Writing to Brand </li></ul><ul><li>A brand is a promise </li></ul><ul><li>Establishes expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Is an expression of what a company is </li></ul><ul><li>Writing for a brochure or writing for the web should reinforce what the brand is. </li></ul>
  11. 11. “ Helping people achieve more.” Canada Life branding message. You’ll find it sprinkled through all sorts of communications
  12. 12. <ul><li>The thinking behind writing for the brand </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom 55 Financial </li></ul><ul><li>A total financial planning organization, </li></ul><ul><li>Messages in ads and marketing materials always reflect that </li></ul><ul><li>Doesn’t talk about product, but rather how we work with our clients to reach their needs at every stage of life </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Links </li></ul><ul><li>Too many hyperlinks interrupt text flow </li></ul><ul><li>Hyperlink to more detailed information to minimize scrolling </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t add links that will lead the user to another terrain of thought </li></ul><ul><li>Place links to other websites or resources at the end of the page/article </li></ul><ul><li>Open external links in separate window </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Don’t Click Here!! </li></ul><ul><li>Write about your subject, not the medium </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid references to Web actions </li></ul><ul><li>Bad </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ For a list of resources about how to create an acceptable PowerPoint presentation, click here .” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Good </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Use our PowerPoint resources to create stronger presentations.” </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Addressing the Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Address the audience in the first person and they will: </li></ul><ul><li>identify with a company </li></ul><ul><li>increased confidence in its products and services. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><li>We pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service. </li></ul><ul><li>Our customers are our priority. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Tone </li></ul><ul><li>Talk to web users the same way you would talk to a friend – in a simple conversational manner. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid lecturing or listing information. </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>To convey a customer service message, ensure the tone is: </li></ul><ul><li>positive, </li></ul><ul><li>enthusiastic, </li></ul><ul><li>believable, </li></ul><ul><li>appropriate, </li></ul><ul><li>human, </li></ul><ul><li>customer-centric. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Lists </li></ul><ul><li>Lists are an effective way to: </li></ul><ul><li>unite unrelated information, </li></ul><ul><li>draw attention to key information, </li></ul><ul><li>move the reader through the material efficiently, </li></ul><ul><li>improve the appearance of dense text. </li></ul>
  19. 19. When creating lists: keep them short; use ordered lists when sequential order is important (e.g. to indicate steps in a plan); use unordered lists to present items of equal status or value. Bullet points make the contents of an unordered list easily scannable.
  20. 20. <ul><li>The Active Voice </li></ul><ul><li>Eliminates unnecessary words in a sentence </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthens the impact of what you are communicating. </li></ul><ul><li>An active voice: </li></ul><ul><li>emphasizes the subject; </li></ul><ul><li>shortens the message; </li></ul><ul><li>clarifies meaning; </li></ul><ul><li>conveys a sense of action. </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Minimize use of lingo and jargon </li></ul><ul><li>If you can find any other way to describe an insurance/financial term, do it. </li></ul><ul><li>If you must include an acronym, please reference what it stands for. </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Layout and Spacing </li></ul><ul><li>Keep text line length to about 40—60 characters per line. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not use indentations. </li></ul><ul><li>Use one full line space between paragraphs or between heading and body text. </li></ul><ul><li>Use one space after periods. </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Paragraphs </li></ul><ul><li>A paragraph contains a single idea.This idea must be clear in the opening sentence – the rest of the paragraph supports or illustrates this idea. Paragraphs should be kept reasonably short; break long paragraphs if possible. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>When creating text: </li></ul><ul><li>keep bolding to a minimum and do not italicize </li></ul><ul><li>AVOID USING ALL UPPERCASE HEADLINES. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Creating titles and abstracts in the Content Management System </li></ul><ul><li>Be concise – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Titles: 80 characters max. (which includes French, so we only get 70% of that). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abstracts: 256 character max. (which includes French, so we only get 70% of that). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Key words are important (ie. Life insurance, estate planning, investments, etc…). </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Titles and abstracts - continued </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t forget to change “translation required” from “no” to “yes” when copy and pasting into the French version. </li></ul><ul><li>Try not to “check out” a content ID. </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>Spelling and Abbreviations </li></ul><ul><li>Always use Canadian Press (CP) Stylebook and Canadian Press (CP) Caps & Spelling Guide (authority Canadian Oxford Dictionary). </li></ul><ul><li>For French, use Le Petit Robert and Le Petit Larousse). </li></ul><ul><li>Note that spell check can be defaulted to Canadian spelling (see handout for instructions) </li></ul>
  28. 28. “ Online, your brand is only as good as your customer’s last experience.” - Tony Russell