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A Practical Guide to Awesome Web Writing

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A Practical Guide to Awesome Web Writing

  1. 1. A Practical Guide to AwesomeWeb Writing Follow me @mandiwise
  2. 2. A lot of writing onthe web kind of sucks.
  3. 3. But why does it suck?
  4. 4. It lacks focus and clarity It’s grammatically awkward It’s poorly structuredIt’s not written for the reader
  5. 5. It lacks focus and clarity It’s grammatically awkward It’s poorly structuredIt’s not written for the reader
  6. 6. It lacks focus and clarity It’s grammatically awkward It’s poorly structuredIt’s not written for the reader
  7. 7. It lacks focus and clarity It’s grammatically awkward It’s poorly structuredIt’s not written for the reader
  8. 8. 3 Elements of Awesome Web Writing:
  9. 9. 3 Elements of Awesome Web Writing: Style
  10. 10. 3 Elements of Awesome Web Writing: Style Structure
  11. 11. 3 Elements of Awesome Web Writing: Style Structure Substance
  12. 12. 3 Elements of Awesome Web Writing: Style Structure Substance
  13. 13. ONE: STYLE
  14. 14. STYLE is the assemblage of words,punctuation, and sentences to convey meaning in writing.
  15. 15. If you only take one thing awayfrom this presentation, take this...
  16. 16. Omit needless words (Struck, White & Kalman - The Elements of Style)
  17. 17. Omit needless words (Steve Krug - Don’t Make Me Think)
  18. 18. A few other style tips...
  19. 19. Write complete sentences
  20. 20. Independent Clause
  21. 21. Independent ClauseContains a noun and a verb, and expresses a complete thought.
  22. 22. Independent ClauseContains a noun and a verb, and expresses a complete thought. Dependent Clause
  23. 23. Independent Clause Contains a noun and a verb, and expresses a complete thought. Dependent ClauseOnly modifies an independent clause, and cannot stand on its own.
  24. 24. This is NOT a complete sentence:
  25. 25. This is NOT a complete sentence:Because grammar is interesting.
  26. 26. This is NOT a complete sentence:Because grammar is interesting. This IS a complete sentence:
  27. 27. This is NOT a complete sentence:Because grammar is interesting. This IS a complete sentence: We enjoyed the trainingbecause grammar is interesting.
  28. 28. This is NOT a complete sentence: Because grammar is interesting. “Because” makes this a dependent clause This IS a complete sentence: We enjoyed the training Independent clause because grammar is interesting. Dependentclause again
  29. 29. Use commas andsemi-colons correctly
  30. 30. Use commas to:
  31. 31. Use commas to:Join a dependent and an independent clause
  32. 32. Use commas to: Join a dependent and an independent clauseJoin 2 independent clauses with a conjunction
  33. 33. Use commas to: Join a dependent and an independent clauseJoin 2 independent clauses with a conjunction Separate items listed in a series
  34. 34. Use commas to: Join a dependent and an independent clauseJoin 2 independent clauses with a conjunction Separate items listed in a series Use semi-colons to:
  35. 35. Use commas to: Join a dependent and an independent clauseJoin 2 independent clauses with a conjunction Separate items listed in a series Use semi-colons to: Join 2 independent clauses
  36. 36. Use commas to: Join a dependent and an independent clauseJoin 2 independent clauses with a conjunction Separate items listed in a series Use semi-colons to: Join 2 independent clauses Separate items listed in a long series
  37. 37. Ensure subjects and verbs agree with each other
  38. 38. Bad:
  39. 39. Bad:Chocolate or vanilla taste best.
  40. 40. Bad:Chocolate or vanilla taste best. Good:
  41. 41. Bad:Chocolate or vanilla taste best. Good:Chocolate or vanilla tastes best.
  42. 42. Bad:Chocolate or vanilla taste best. Good:Chocolate or vanilla tastes best. Also Good:
  43. 43. Bad:Chocolate or vanilla taste best. Good:Chocolate or vanilla tastes best. Also Good:Chocolate and vanilla taste best.
  44. 44. Write statements in the positive form
  45. 45. Positive:
  46. 46. Positive:She forgot
  47. 47. Positive:She forgotNegative:
  48. 48. Positive: She forgot Negative:She didn’t remember
  49. 49. Use active voice
  50. 50. Passive:
  51. 51. Passive:The event is being held in May.
  52. 52. Passive:The event is being held in May. Active:
  53. 53. Passive:The event is being held in May. Active:The event takes place in May.
  54. 54. TIP: Watch for any tense of theverb “to be” in your writing tofind passively voiced phrases.
  55. 55. Use exclamation points,capitalization, and quotation marks sparingly
  56. 56. Use exclamation points to convey true excitement.
  57. 57. Use exclamation points to convey true excitement. Use capital letters for proper nouns, not common nouns.
  58. 58. Use exclamation points to convey true excitement. Use capital letters for proper nouns, not common nouns.Use quotation marks for quotes.
  59. 59. Don’t try to be a professor
  60. 60. Your audienceneeds to be ableto understandwhat you write.Avoid $10 wordsand jargon.
  61. 61. Reread, revise, rewrite(then rinse and repeat)
  62. 62. “The first draft of anything is shit.” (Ernest Hemingway)
  63. 63. If possible, takea break betweendrafts so youcan revise withfresh eyes.
  64. 64. A final word on style...
  65. 65. Tirelessly strive for clarity,because a confused mindalways says no.
  66. 66. TWO: STRUCTURE
  67. 67. STRUCTURE is the organization of words and sentences into paragraphs, lists, headings, and sub-headings.
  68. 68. A major goal of structure is toenhance readability, so live by this mantra when you write:
  69. 69. Your websiteisn’t a report(even if it is)
  70. 70. Yikes!
  71. 71. Painful truth time:
  72. 72. Painful truth time:Most people aren’t going to read what you’ve written
  73. 73. How people read online:
  74. 74. How people read online: 1) They scan
  75. 75. How people read online: 1) They scan2) They follow an F-shape
  76. 76. Photo credit: useit.com
  77. 77. How do we leverage these habitsthrough well-structured web writing?
  78. 78. Write effective headlines
  79. 79. Get to the point quickly
  80. 80. Create a visual hierarchy
  81. 81. page ID (1st level heading) 2nd level heading 3rd level heading bulleted list
  82. 82. BONUS!HTML heading tags andlists can help with site accessibility and SEO
  83. 83. A final word on structure...
  84. 84. Have a plan for organizing what you need to write before you start typing.
  85. 85. THREE: SUBSTANCE
  86. 86. SUBSTANCE is the subject matter,message, and meaning of writing.
  87. 87. Substance boils down to 2 questions:
  88. 88. Substance boils down to 2 questions:What am I writing (about)?
  89. 89. Substance boils down to 2 questions:What am I writing (about)? Who am I writing for?
  90. 90. First, clarify the following:
  91. 91. First, clarify the following:Are you creating content or writing copy?
  92. 92. Content vs. Copy
  93. 93. Content is “the formalexpression of information.” (Gerry McGovern - Killer Web Content)
  94. 94. Copy persuades people totake some kind of action.
  95. 95. Content may beeducational, entertaining, or informative.
  96. 96. Copy is promotional.
  97. 97. Examples of web content:Newsletter article Blog post About page
  98. 98. Examples of web copy: Advertisement Sales letter Landing page
  99. 99. Important caveat alert!
  100. 100. Important caveat alert!Content and copy overlap
  101. 101. Important caveat alert!Content and copy overlap Content Copy
  102. 102. Important caveat alert!Content and copy overlap Content Copy strategic copy + valuable content = results!
  103. 103. Whether content or copy, the substance of web writing must accomplish one or(better yet) both of the following things:
  104. 104. Support a key business objectiveSupport a user in completing a task (Adapted from Kristina Halvorson - Content Strategy for the Web)
  105. 105. What am I writing (about)? Support a key business objectiveSupport a user in completing a task Who am I writing for? (Adapted from Kristina Halvorson - Content Strategy for the Web)
  106. 106. People are on your site to complete a task...
  107. 107. People are on your site to complete a task...Help them complete that task.
  108. 108. To do this, youmust write foryour audience,not for yourself.
  109. 109. Now let’s bring it full circle!
  110. 110. Needless words muddy thesubstance of web writing.
  111. 111. Two culprits of needless words:
  112. 112. Two culprits of needless words: 1) Happy talk
  113. 113. Two culprits of needless words: 1) Happy talk 2) Instructions
  114. 114. Happy talk “conveys no usefulinformation, and focuses on saying howgreat we are, as opposed to delineating what makes us great” (Steve Krug - Don’t Make Me Think)
  115. 115. “The main thing you need to know aboutinstructions is that no one is going to read them—at least not until after repeatedattempts at ‘mudding through’ have failed” (Steve Krug - Don’t Make Me Think)
  116. 116. How to get your point across to your audience:
  117. 117. How to get your point across to your audience: Words must be meaningful (not clever)
  118. 118. How to get your point across to your audience: Words must be meaningful (not clever) Links should be descriptive (avoid “click here”)
  119. 119. How to get your point across to your audience:
  120. 120. How to get your point across to your audience: Tell a story (our brains are wired for narrative)
  121. 121. How to get your point across to your audience: Tell a story (our brains are wired for narrative) Include a call to action(tell people what they need to do next)
  122. 122. One last time now!
  123. 123. One last time now! Style
  124. 124. One last time now! Style Structure
  125. 125. One last time now! Style StructureSubstance
  126. 126. One last time now! Style StructureSubstance
  127. 127. That’s all folks! Questions?

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