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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 Eston Martz Holly Swanson Rose Pruyne

  2. Writing for the Web Challenges of Web Text • Harder/slower to read on screen • Stiff competition—users can always go somewhere else • Text is often afterthought in site design/architecture

  3. Writing for the Web The Fundamental Question: How do people read on the Web?

  4. Writing for the Web Jakob Nielsen, 1997 • 79% don’t “read” the Web • People scan the Web • Skim text for key words, subheads, and lists

  5. Writing for the Web What Works Best on the Web? Nielsen tested 5 approaches to text: • Promotional writing • Concise text • Scannable layout • Objective layout • Combined approach

  6. Writing for the Web Promotional Writing Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).

  7. Writing for the Web Combined Approach • In 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were: • Fort Robinson State Park • Scotts Bluff National Monument • Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum • Carhenge • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer • Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park

  8. Writing for the Web Nielsen’s Recommendations • One idea per paragraph • Limit word count to ½ of printed text • Stick to facts • Eliminate “marketese”

  9. Writing for the Web Stanford/Poynter Institute • First eye-tracking study of Web users • Focused on on-line news sites • Confirms importance of good writing on the Web

  10. Writing for the Web Stanford/Poynter Findings • Users see and read text before graphics • Users read shallow, but wide • Users will scroll to read articles they find interesting

  11. Writing for the Web What’s It All Mean? • Web text is different than print • Good writing still counts • Every word counts • Use subheads and lists • Journalism, not academic writing

  12. Writing for the Web Academic Writing • Introduction • Background & literature • Explanation of research & methods • Analysis of data • Discussion of results • Conclusion

  13. Writing for the Web Journalistic Writing “Inverted pyramid” • Big picture/conclusions • Findings • Discussion • Background and depth

  14. Writing for the Web Edit for Brevity and Action • Use active, not passive voice • Simple, declarative and imperative sentence structures • Don’t “noun-ify” good verbs • Use second-person where possible • Be precise—avoid ambiguity • Kill all useless words without mercy

  15. Writing for the Web Other Guidelines • Avoid self-promotion and jargon • Short and direct = good • Choppy = bad • Focus on content, not interface

  16. Writing for the Web Be Consistent: Use Stylesheets • Editorial stylesheets, not CSS • Defines how you treat: • Numbers and measurements • Common, unusual, or technical terms • Abbreviations, titles, punctuation • Helps keep multiple authors on same page

  17. Writing for the Web Forbidden Phrases • “Come back often” • “Keyword search” • “Press this button” / “Click here” • Hotlinks or hotlist • “Just a mouse-click away” • Cutting edge/leading edge/bleeding edge • Coming soon! • Under construction