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Writing for the Web


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Part of a web writing class developed for CFA Institute.

Published in: Business
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Writing for the Web

  1. 1. Writing for the WebWriting for the web is different than writing for print.
  2. 2. Writing for the Web What do you thinkmakes it so different?
  3. 3. Writing for the WebOne big difference is the readers.Web users, unlike print readers: • Scan pages looking for key points • Look at pages out of sequence • Move on if they don’t find the specific content they want • Get overwhelmed by clutter • Are global
  4. 4. Writing for the WebGood web pages are written for the users, not for your boss or a committee“On the web, value is NOT what the organization thinks is valuable.Value IS what the impatient customer values.” -- Gerry McGovern
  5. 5. Writing for the WebOne Voice for the WebsiteWe strive for one voice on the website. With so many pages and authors, that is the only way to ensure a consistent, usable, and high-quality site.Web Services is part of Marketing, and we work with the various marketing strategists for consistency across the site.
  6. 6. Writing for the WebVoice: Writing ConversationallyThe web is an informal conversation with the user.Formal “institutional speak” doesn’t work with web readers.On the web, we’re talking with the user, helping the user, educating the user. We aren’t lecturing to the user.Try writing the way you speak!
  7. 7. Writing for the WebVoice: Writing Conversationally“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.So just say it.” -- Seth Godin
  8. 8. Writing for the WebPutting a page on the web requires extra effort, planning, and thoughtYou can’t always duplicate a print piece on the web.You probably will need to do some extra work, with the help of Web Services, to make your pages work for the web.
  9. 9. Writing for the WebDon’t be afraid to try something differentIf it doesn’t work, you can change it.Unlike reprinting a brochure, it’s free and easy to make changes on the web!
  10. 10. Writing for the WebBefore you begin working on a page or project,Clarify these points: • Audience: For whom are you writing? • Purpose: Why are you writing? • To educate/inform? To engage? To sell something? • Main point(s): What are you writing about? • Why should we care? • Medium: How should the information be presented? • One or more pages? HTML? PDF? Multimedia (Flash, etc)? • Context: Where will this go on the web? • Where should it link from? More than one link? • Timeline: When will it be online? How long will it stay online?
  11. 11. Writing for the Web ExerciseDivide into groups of 2-3.Take a look at your sample text and try to answer these points• Audience• Purpose• Main point(s)/Why• Medium• Context• Timeline
  12. 12. Writing for the WebIf you can clarify these points, it will help Web Services help you make your pages stronger and more effective for the web.If you can’t answer all of these questions, we can help you.
  13. 13. Writing for the WebTips for your web text
  14. 14. Writing for the WebGet to the Point Right AwayUse journalism’s “inverted pyramid”Put the most important information first Most important information (the foundation) at the top Supporting information further down the page (details)
  15. 15. Writing for the WebWord Choice • Use clear, simple language • Avoid acronyms and abbreviations that aren’t obvious to outside users • Eliminate jargon and internal terms • Users don’t care about our department names or the terms “we’ve always used.” They want clear information.
  16. 16. Writing for the Web DiscussionLook at your sample text. Is there any jargon that could be removed? How would this help users?
  17. 17. Writing for the WebVoice and StyleUse concrete, active language when writing for the web.What does that mean?
  18. 18. Writing for the WebVoice and Style“The FlexPlan gives you options.”Instead of…“The FlexPlan is designed to give you the following options.” Why is the first option better?
  19. 19. Writing for the Web DiscussionSee if you can you make thesesentences active:The candidate preparation toolkit is wherecandidates can find out more about studygroupsRegistration for this conference is availableby using an online form
  20. 20. Writing for the WebVoice and StyleWhat is the second person?Second person means you’re speaking directly to the user:
  21. 21. Writing for the WebVoice and Style“Invest in your future with our career resources”“Update your contact information”“Take the next step”“Are you ready?”
  22. 22. Writing for the Web DiscussionFind a sentence written inthe third person, and we’llrewrite it as a group
  23. 23. Writing for the WebVoice and StyleAsk questions:
  24. 24. Writing for the WebVoice and StyleUse fewer, smaller words “Use” not “utilize” “Build” not “construct”Remember: “Big” words aren’t necessarily big in size (utilize is only seven letters long, but it is a big word)
  25. 25. Writing for the Web DiscussionFind an example of a“big” word that could bechanged to a smallerwordOr find an example of agroup of words thatcould be shortened
  26. 26. Writing for the WebContextMake each page understandable on its own • Don’t assume the user has viewed any other pages on the site
  27. 27. Writing for the Web
  28. 28. Writing for the WebLengthAs a rule, cut your text in half (you might be able to cut even more)
  29. 29. Writing for the WebLengthWhy is it important to cut your text?100 words You lose 25% of your readers300 words You lose 40% of your readers
  30. 30. Writing for the Web ExerciseTry trimming yourcontent in half. Feel freeto move sentences andparagraphs and rewritetextDon’t worry aboutheadings or organizationjust yet
  31. 31. Writing for the WebChunkingWhat is chunking? • Bulleted lists • Easy to scan • Slow the reader down • Emphasize important information • Short, simple phrases • Smaller, more manageable pieces of information • Multiple short paragraphs instead of one long one
  32. 32. Writing for the Web
  33. 33. Writing for the Web
  34. 34. Writing for the WebOften, the best way to chunk content is to break it up into multiple pages…
  35. 35. Writing for the WebBefore:
  36. 36. Writing for the WebAfter:
  37. 37. Writing for the WebBefore:
  38. 38. Writing for the WebAfter (content chunked into two pages):
  39. 39. Writing for the WebChunking:All lists should be parallel. How do you write a parallel list?• Each item in the list begins with the same part of speech. If one item is a verb, they should all be verbs. If one item is an “ing” word, they should all be “ing” words.• Each item in the list is the same type of statement. For example, if one item is a question, they should all be questions.
  40. 40. Writing for the WebParallel Lists:
  41. 41. Writing for the Web Exercise“Chunk” your sample textDivide it into pieces that will be easy for the user tounderstand. (Make sure you use the “inverted pyramid”and put the most important content first)Use lists or move content onto multiple pages. Dowhatever you think will workDon’t worry about headings yet
  42. 42. Writing for the WebHeadings: Write short, simple headings and subheadings • Use action verbs • Avoid passive verbs like Have and Was
  43. 43. Writing for the Web ExerciseWrite a page heading for your textWrite any other subheadings that arenecessary for your page/s
  44. 44. Writing for the WebLinks: A helpful way to conserve spaceDo not use indicators like “click here for more information” or spelling out URLs: “visit for more information.”
  45. 45. Writing for the WebLinks: A helpful way to conserve spaceInstead, create links within informative sentences and imbed URLS: The conference proceedings resulted in a report on Malfunctioning Websites.Or: View the conference proceedings for further detail.
  46. 46. Writing for the WebUse links to trim unnecessary text Original: Final:
  47. 47. Writing for the WebLinksWarning: Use hypertext where it makes sense to do so, but watch overuse.Too many links can crowd the page and make your text hard to read.Also consider link placement: Links will take your reader away from your page, and they might not return.
  48. 48. Writing for the Web ExerciseMark all the links for your page
  49. 49. Writing for the WebSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) • Search engines read your text from the upper left to the bottom right and consider the first words they see more important than the rest • Google considers words in tags (heading styles, boldface) more important than plain text • Your keywords are important, so give some thought to writing them
  50. 50. Writing for the WebSearch Engine Optimization (SEO)But remember: You should focus on having well-written and compelling content.Search engines may refer people to your pages, but users will only stay if the content is good.
  51. 51. Writing for the WebThink Beyond Text • Use the sidebar and/or callout boxes to maximize your space and clearly communicate multiple pieces of information on a page • Graphics • White space
  52. 52. Writing for the WebMultiple short paragraphs, call out box, and sidebar all used:
  53. 53. Writing for the WebGroup BrainstormingWhat other elements could improveyour page?How would you incorporategraphics, callout boxes, or whitespace?
  54. 54. Writing for the WebWrapping It UpBe sure to: • Use spell-check • Proofread your pages • Verify the accuracy of your information • Follow the CFA Institute Style Guide for Print and Web
  55. 55. Writing for the WebStyle Guide
  56. 56. Writing for the WebGroup BrainstormingWhat kinds of things would youlook up in the CFA Institute StyleGuide for Print and Web?
  57. 57. Writing for the WebWhat if you have questions when you get back to your desk?E-mail us: #WebServicesCheck out our intranet pages: (includes a list of our favorite writing resources)