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Writing for the Web

Writing for the Web

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Writing for the Web

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  1. Writing for the Web Student Affairs Web Content Users Group

  2. Think like your audience…

  3. Challenges with Web communication Web Reading Facts: • People find it harder (and slower) to read online • People rarely read all words on a web page. Only 20% will be scanned. • People can enter your site from any page, not necessarily a linear path from the home page. Make it clear where they are at all times. Results: • Information Overload “Where is that thing I am trying to find?” • Unclear navigation and Orientation “Where am I?”

  4. 1. Write for non-readers 2. Write for your audience, not your boss 3. Use the appropriate tone and voice for your audience 4. Write for search engines, but keep your user first. 5. Find hidden content 6. Remove ROT (Redundant, Outdated, Trivial) 7. Provide road maps 8. Make targets visible 9. Know your user 10. Make it easy to get from here to there Top 10 Online Communication Tips

  5. Write content to be scannable • Write one idea per short paragraph • Use the inverted pyramid • Use sub heads • Use bulleted and numbered lists • Keep scrolling to a minimum Write for Non Readers

  6. Resist institutional language, marketing speak and anything that “just needs to be up” on the site. • Sites using institutional language place a cognitive burden on users to filter the hyperbole, or skip the content all together. Questions to Ask: • Do audiences need this content? • Will they quickly understand it? Write for your users, Not your boss

  7. Successful online communication is a relationship between the site’s author and its readers. Your tone should relate to the feelings of the user. Go into each page knowing: • What you are trying to evoke • What your reader is feeling Strategy: Create and share-voice and tone guidelines for a site/page Use the Appropriate Voice & Tone

  8. Get your content a high ranking by including relevant terms in the content. • Think about how your users are thinking is the best way to find you…use their words. • Carefully consider your word choice • Define jargon for users who might be using more generic words. (ex: ID card vs. Wild Card) • Write out acronyms (but provide both versions) (ex: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) ) Write for Search Engines-but keeping user first

  9. Mine your site for existing content that people are overlooking. • Common “hiding places” for site information • FAQ pages • PDFs Move relevant sought-after information up to the first content pages visitors find, not the last. Find Hidden Content

  10. Prune your site of unnecessary content. • Redundant-ok to link to same content but not to recreate it on many different pages. • Outdated-check weekly, monthly for outdated events, forms, news • Trivial-look out for pages with limited information Remove ROT

  11. Where am I? Good sites give users the clues they need to orient themselves. • Cascade provided site maps and simple navigation • Identity, logos and banners • Page titles-What is this page about? • Navigation indicators Provide Road Maps

  12. Where is the thing I am looking for? Strategy: Site organization should be driven by user needs. • Identify the primary audience and primary tasks • Ask yourself: What do the visitors coming to my site want? • Make it EASY. Make Targets Visible

  13. Use Google Analytics-available to all WCUG • Set priorites and identify user preferences and behavior • Solicit customer feedback • Treat your site like an evolving work in progress…it will never be “done”. Know Your User

  14. Where does this go? Best practices for Hyper links: • Links should be visually differentiated (Cascade provided) • Text should set expectations for where links will go. • NEVER USE : CLICK HERE • Indicate PDFs and external links • Don’t’ overload links on a page-limit the number • Separate links out to make clear when possible. Make it easy to get from here to there.

  15. Keep it simple.