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Writing web content

Writing web content. Lulu Pinney SCS6079 Digital Practices 15th February 2018. Books Krug, S., 2014. Don't make me think, revisited: A common sense approach to Web and mobile Usability. 3 rd edn . New Riders. Redish , J., 2012. Letting Go of the Words . 2nd edn . Morgan Kaufmann.

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Writing web content

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  1. Writing web content Lulu Pinney • SCS6079 Digital Practices • 15th February 2018

  2. Books Krug, S., 2014. Don't make me think, revisited: A common sense approach to Web and mobile Usability. 3rdedn.New Riders. Redish, J., 2012. Letting Go of the Words. 2nd edn. Morgan Kaufmann. Industry articles Annett-Baker, R., 2009. 24ways.org/2009/the-construction-of-instruction Albrighton, T., 2010. abccopywriting.com/2010/08/31/tone-of-voice-brand Kissane, E., 2011. alistapart.com/article/a-checklist-for-content-work Search Engine Land, 2018. searchengineland.com/guide/seo/html-code-search-engine-ranking Moss, T., 2005. webcredible.com/blog/disability-discrimination-act-dda-web-accessibility/ Live organisational or institutional ‘writing for web’ guides gov.uk/guidance/content-design style.ons.gov.uk/category/writing-for-the-web/ sheffield.ac.uk/web/effective/writing w3.org/WAI/intro/people-use-web/principles w3.org/WAI/eval/preliminary Live organisational or institutional styleguides gov.uk/guidance/style-guide/a-to-z-of-gov-uk-style bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/news-style-guide theguardian.com/guardian-observer-style-guide-a handbook.reuters.com/index.php?title=A Find more reference material on Prisca’s website help.eyedea.london/tips/writing-good-web-copy/

  3. 1. Why good content matters

  4. It is through creating good content that users will have a good experience online • Content includes everything you put on your website • Today’s focus – writing – has an important role to play in doing this

  5. We go online for the content • Navigation and search are critical • Design is critical • Technology is critical • But, people go online for the content that they think (or hope) is there • Redish, 2012

  6. Content = conversation • Answers users questions • Lets them “grab and go” • Engages them • Satisfies the conversation they came to have (marketing) • Improves search engine optimization (SEO) and internal search • Is accessible to all • Redish, 2012

  7. But how we experience content online is different to our experiences with other media • More interactive: not bound by schedule, freedom for user • Less familiar: not always a linear journey, user has to search • Less readable: reading on screens is slower • Varied technologies: users’ experiences depend on the technology they are using • sheffield.ac.uk/web/effective/writing

  8. Krug, 2014

  9. Krug, 2014

  10. What this means for how we use web content • We don’t read pages. We scan them. • We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice. • We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through. • Krug, 2014

  11. Good web content • Meets the user need • Helps users find information • Is easy to read • gov.uk/guidance/content-design

  12. So, ‘good’ for users is when they experience content that is • Accessible • Searchable • Usable

  13. Accessible content • “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” • Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the WWW

  14. Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 • “The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public.” • webcredible.com/blog/disability-discrimination-act-dda-web-accessibility/

  15. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 principles • Perceivable • Operable • Understandable • Robust • w3.org/WAI/intro/people-use-web/principles • w3.org/WAI/eval/preliminary • w3.org/WAI/demos/bad/

  16. Searchable content is • Content that people want • Content that includes the words people use when they search • Content that people want to share • Content that other sites want to link to • (= Write for people, not for the search engine) • Redish, 2012

  17. Search engine optimization (SEO) • Making sure your web site comes up high in the list of nonpaid (“organic”) results at Bing, Google, Yahoo, and other search engines • Search engines change their algorithms frequently, so check for the latest specifics at each search engine and in the major blogs about SEO • The key to good SEO is having great content • Redish, 2012

  18. Usable content means that • “A person of average ability and experience can figure out how to use the thing to accomplish something without it being more trouble than it’s worth” • Krug, 2014

  19. It is through creating good content that users will have a good experience online • Content includes everything you put on your website • Good is accessible, searchable and usable • Today’s focus – writing – has an important role to play in doing this

  20. 2. What good content looks like

  21. What good looks like: Typography • Set a legible sans serif font as the default • Make the default text size legible • Set a medium line length as the default • Don’t write in all capitals • Underline only links • Use italics sparingly • Don’t let headings float • Don’t center text • Redish, 2012

  22. What good looks like: Headlines • Use your site visitors’ words • Be clear instead of cute • Think about your global audience • Try for a medium length (about eight words) • Use a statement, question, or call to action • Combine labels (nouns) with more information • Add a short description if people need it • Redish, 2012

  23. What good looks like: Headings • Answer your site visitors’ questions • Write from your site visitors’ point of view • Keep any questions short • Consider starting with a keyword • Use key message bites as section headings • Distinguish headings from text • Make each level of heading clear • List headings at the top as links • Do the headings stand on their own? • Redish, 2012

  24. What good looks like: Sentences 1/2 • Talk to your site visitors, use “you” • On social media “I” is fine; writing for an organization, use “we”; be consistent • Write in the active voice (most of the time) • Write simple, short, straightforward sentences • Cut unnecessary words • Give extra information its own place • Keep paragraphs short (lists or tables may be better) • Redish, 2012

  25. What good looks like: Sentences 2/2 • Start with the context • Put the action in the verbs • Use your site visitors’ words • Redish, 2012

  26. What good looks like: Links • Make the link meaningful • Not ‘Click here’ or ‘More’ • No program or product names • Launch and land on the same name • For actions, start with a verb • Put links at the end, below, or next to your text, in preference to embedding them • Make bullets with links active, too • Make unvisited and visited links obvious • Redish, 2012

  27. What good looks like: Example Illustrated examples of good and bad https://www.w3.org/WAI/demos/bad/Overview.html Follow links from the Digital Practices microsite http://eyelearn.org/workshops/digital-practices2018/pages/project.html

  28. What good looks like: Keywords 1/2 • People type their keywords into a search engine. If you want people to find you, you must have their keywords in your site. If your words and theirs differ, your site won’t come up for them. • Use keywords in page title, URL, headline, headings, copy and content others link to • Gaming the system doesn’t work • Redish, 2012

  29. What good looks like: Keywords 2/2 • Use keywords in HTML tags, specifically • Title • Meta description • Header, h1 • (Structured data) • searchengineland.com/guide/seo/html-code-search-engine-ranking

  30. What good looks like: Tone of voice • The ‘personality’ of your brand or company as expressed through the written word…what you say in writing and how you say it • Style: Capture the brand’s personality in three values. They must be believable and consistent with reality • Vocabulary: what type of words can and can’t be used • Grammar: which rules are you happy to break • abccopywriting.com/2010/08/31/tone-of-voice-brand

  31. What good looks like: Tone of voice • Look at some style guides • gov.uk/guidance/style-guide/a-to-z-of-gov-uk-style • bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/news-style-guide • theguardian.com/guardian-observer-style-guide-a • handbook.reuters.com/index.php?title=A

  32. Different tones of voice ABC Copywriting delivers professional, premium-quality business writing services to corporations and organisations throughout the UK. We’re a cheerful lot and we’re always chuffed to chinwag, so if you want to chat about your project, grab the rap-rod and give us a tinkle. With ten years’ experience of developing content for clients of all types, we are ideally placed to meet your copywriting needs. Our copy’s too bootylicious for ya baby! • abccopywriting.com/2010/08/31/tone-of-voice-brand

  33. What good looks like: Microcopy • There are websites losing users everyday due to the lack of clear instruction • Plan what you want to say and plan it out as early as possible • Use your words • Be prepared to help • Be direct and be informative • Combine copy and visual cues, learn from others and test • 24ways.org/2009/the-construction-of-instruction

  34. 3. How you create good content

  35. Content strategy (thinking strategically about your content) is about… • Purposes, personas, and scenarios • Messages, media, style, and tone • People, processes, and technology • Governance • Redish, 2012

  36. Thinking strategically about your projects • Choose your topic • Profile your target group • Produce content • Plan website • Design website • Test and check everything

  37. For this week’s workshop • Choose your topic • (1) Profile your target group • (2) Keywords • (3) Tone of voice • Produce content • (4) Structured writing for web • Plan website • Design website • Test and check everything

  38. Workshop: (1) Profile your target group • Characterise three target groups eg their • Priorities, when on your website • Experience, on the subject matter • Emotions: How are they likely to be feeling • Values: What matters to them • Technology: Resolution, connections, devices • Context: Social and cultural environment • Demographics: age, family status, education… • Redish, 2012

  39. Workshop: (1) Profile your target group • 2. Write a user need for each target group: • As a… [who is the user?] • I need to… [what does the user want to do?] • So that… [why does the user want to do this?] • Write them from the user’s perspective and in language that a user would recognise and use themselves • gov.uk/guidance/content-design/user-needs

  40. Workshop: (2) Keywords Which keywords do you think your target groups will type into a search engine? Identify keywords used by similar sites from the HTML tags, as well as their copy and links 3. Write down five keywords for your site • style.ons.gov.uk/category/writing-for-the-web/structuring-content/

  41. Workshop: (3) Tone of voice • Think of three values to capture your brand’s personality, eg • Organic yoghurt: Honest, friendly, principled • Children’s shoes: Fun, practical, economical • IT support company: Knowledgeable, reliable, proactive • abccopywriting.com/2010/08/31/tone-of-voice-brand

  42. Workshop: (3) Tone of voice 2. How will those three values inform your style: Formal Chatty DetachedWarm ProfessionalWacky SeriousHumorous Laid backLively X X X X X • abccopywriting.com/2010/08/31/tone-of-voice-brand

  43. Workshop: (4) Inverted pyramid • Good practice for web writing • Place information in order of importance • Start with a conclusion of the main facts • Other facts are included in descending order of importance • style.ons.gov.uk/category/writing-for-the-web/structuring-content/

  44. Workshop: (4) Inverted pyramid Rewrite a small body of text using this model Write a headline for it

  45. Overall, good content is… • appropriate • useful • user-centred • clear • consistent • concise • supported • alistapart.com/article/a-checklist-for-content-work

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