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Web Writing Presentation


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A short web writing presentation for UVA Health System.

Published in: Technology, Business
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Web Writing Presentation

  1. 1. Writing for the Web Jennifer Stover, Web Editor February 11, 2011
  2. 4. Writing for the web is different than writing for print. But how? <ul><li>Web users: </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t read. They skim and scan. </li></ul><ul><li>Look at pages out of sequence. </li></ul><ul><li>Move on if they don’t find what they want. </li></ul><ul><li>Are overwhelmed by clutter. </li></ul>
  3. 5. Busy, Task-Oriented Users <ul><li>Web users only read what they need to answer their questions. </li></ul><ul><li>If they’re trying to perform a task, they only read what they need to complete that task. </li></ul>
  4. 6. Extra Effort Needed <ul><li>You can’t always duplicate a print piece on the web. </li></ul><ul><li>Putting a page on the web requires extra effort, planning and thought. </li></ul>
  5. 7. Build Trust <ul><li>Good web writing makes users trust the content, the website and the organization behind it. </li></ul><ul><li>If they have your trust, they’ll use the site more and they’ll come back and/or recommend you. </li></ul>
  6. 8. Adding Value <ul><li>So we need to write web pages for site visitors, not our bosses or a specific doctor or a committee: </li></ul><ul><li>On the Web, value is NOT what the organization thinks is valuable. Value IS what the impatient customer values. </li></ul><ul><li>— Gerry McGovern </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  7. 9. Understand the Audience <ul><li>Web writers need to understand customer psychology: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Address their needs, desires, fears and pain points </li></ul></ul>
  8. 10. Understand Search Engines <ul><li>SEO copywriting is a creative way to include critical keywords and key phrases on your pages. </li></ul><ul><li>Search engines read text from the upper left to the bottom </li></ul><ul><li>They consider the first words they see more important than the rest </li></ul><ul><li>They consider words in tags (headings, boldface) more important than plain text </li></ul><ul><li>Search engine optimization (SEO) is always changing. </li></ul>
  9. 11. Understand Search Engines <ul><li>The best SEO writing isn’t going to get your customers to stay on your site. </li></ul><ul><li>The ultimate search engine optimization helps them complete their tasks quickly and efficiently. </li></ul><ul><li>You need to manage the words that bring people to your website and the words that will bring them through it. </li></ul><ul><li>— Gerry McGovern </li></ul>
  10. 12. The Writing Process <ul><li>Before web editors begin working on a page or project they need to clarify these points: </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Audience: For whom are you writing? </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose: Why are you writing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To educate/inform? To engage? To sell something? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Main point(s): What are you writing about? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why should the reader care? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Medium: How should the information be presented? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One or more pages? HTML? PDF? Multimedia (video, etc)? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Context: Where will this go on the web? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Where should it link from? More than one link? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Timeline: When will it be online? How long will it stay online? </li></ul>
  11. 13. What Do We Need from You? <ul><li>Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Main points: Most important takeaways for the audience (we’re writing to address their needs, not ours) </li></ul><ul><li>All existing collateral…brochures, ads, etc. Too much is better than not enough </li></ul><ul><li>Also, let us know something is in the pipeline so we can find keywords ahead of time and then thoughtfully incorporate them onto the page. </li></ul><ul><li>Available subject matter contact/s. </li></ul>
  12. 14. Now We Can Start Writing <ul><li>“ If you’re writing online, forget everything you were tortured by in high school English class. You’re not trying to win any award or get an A. You’re just trying to be real, to make a point, to write something worth reading. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>So just say it.” </li></ul><ul><li>— Seth Godin </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  13. 15. Get to the Point <ul><ul><li>Put the most important information (the foundation) at the top </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use journalism’s inverted pyramid: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Put supporting information (details) further down the page </li></ul></ul>
  14. 16. Get to the Point
  15. 17. Why the Inverted Pyramid?
  16. 18. Writing Conversationally <ul><li>Good web writing is: </li></ul><ul><li>Like a conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Answers questions </li></ul><ul><li>Lets people grab and go (think “chunks”) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The web is informal. You’re talking to the customer and helping them, not lecturing. Try writing the way you speak! </li></ul></ul>
  17. 19. Talk Directly to the Customer
  18. 20. Word Choice <ul><li>Use simple, clear language </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid acronyms and abbreviations that aren’t obvious, or searched for </li></ul><ul><li>Eliminate jargon </li></ul><ul><li>Use action verbs </li></ul>
  19. 21. Simple, Clear Language <ul><li>Obtain </li></ul><ul><li>Prior to </li></ul><ul><li>Purchase </li></ul><ul><li>Request </li></ul><ul><li>Utilize </li></ul>Get Before Buy Ask for Use
  20. 22. This Also Works for Headings: <ul><li>Use short, simple (and meaningful, not clever) headings </li></ul><ul><li>Try action headings </li></ul><ul><li>Use keywords in headings </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid passive verbs like “has” and “was” in headings </li></ul>
  21. 23. Ask Questions With Headings <ul><li>Get their attention. Ask the questions they’re asking. </li></ul>
  22. 24. Hacking Through the Weeds <ul><li>As rule, cut the text in half (or more) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This might not always apply if we’re using brochure text, but you can almost always find something to cut). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You’re not just cutting for fun (although it is fun); you’re cutting to help the impatient users find what they need. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use as few words as possible: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some search engine experts suggestion 250-500 words minimum, but that’s not a rule. Use what’s right. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>After 100 words: You lose 25% of your readers. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>After 300 words: You lose 40% of your readers. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 25. What’s Chunking? <ul><li>Bulleted lists </li></ul><ul><li>Short, simple phrases </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(complete sentences not necessary) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Multiple short paragraphs instead of one long one </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(or multiple pages instead of one long one) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why Chunk? </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to scan </li></ul><ul><li>Slows the reader down </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasizes important information </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller, more manageable pieces of information </li></ul>
  24. 26. Chunking:
  25. 27. The Basics <ul><li>Use the inverted pyramid </li></ul><ul><li>Have a conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions </li></ul><ul><li>Try simple, clear language </li></ul><ul><li>Cut and chunk text </li></ul>
  26. 28. What About Press Releases? <ul><li>Press releases aren’t just for the media anymore. </li></ul><ul><li>They live on the web, they’re available through links and search. </li></ul><ul><li>For many users, they’re just more web information on a relevant topic: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>According to one study, users wondered why press releases don’t have headings, why they are “wall-to-wall” text, why they don’t have links, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Source: Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works, Jinny Redish </li></ul>
  27. 29. More on Press Releases <ul><li>Press releases should be written like any other web page, with subheadings, short paragraphs, bulleted lists, links, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Usability studies show readers prefer press releases written for the web: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I don’t have to read everything. It tells me where a change of section is.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I can scan more easily. It’s faster to tell if you’re interested in it.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Source: Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works, Jinny Redish </li></ul>
  28. 30. We shouldn’t be afraid to try something different. If it doesn’t work, we can change it. Unlike reprinting a brochure, it’s free and easy to make changes on the web. Writing for the web really is different than writing for print.