Writing for the web
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Writing for the Web. U. S. EPA Office of Web Communications 2008. Rev. Mar 2008. What We’ll Cover. How writing for the Web is different than other writing How to write for Web audiences Identify them; determine what they want to know; then write for them Web-specific features: LINKS

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Writing for the web

Writing for the Web

U. S. EPA Office of

Web Communications

2008

Rev. Mar 2008


What we ll cover

What We’ll Cover

  • How writing for the Web is different than other writing

  • How to write for Web audiences

    • Identify them; determine what they want to know; then write for them

    • Web-specific features:

      • LINKS

        • Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

        • Link Requirements

      • IMAGES: Captioning them and creating good alt text

      • Features that make pages structured for scanning

  • Translating print documents for the Web


Writing for the web is different

Writing for the Web is different

  • Web audiences don’t read; they scan

  • They want to get the info as fast as they can

  • Reading is slooow

  • Viewers may be stressed, impatient, skeptical, disoriented


Writing for the web

  • Web visitors

  • scan for…

  • Key words

  • Subheadings

  • Links

  • What we say to our Web visitors

  • What they see


Identify your audiences what not to do

Identify your audiences: What NOT to do

Don’t write for your office director –

s/he is not your audience, so no mission statements please!


Writing for the web

NO !


Writing for the web

NO !


Writing for the web

NO !


Writing for the web

NO !


Please no not that

Please, no, not that!


No not that either

No, not that either!


Identify your audiences what to do

Identify your audiences:What TO do

  • YES. Use personas.


Identify your audiences what to do1

Identify your audiences:What to do

  • Personas:

    • Google: search for “personas usability”

    • Article: uie.com/articles/personas/

    • Call Beverly Gregory in OEI for personas, usability testing


Suppose you have multiple audiences

Suppose you have multiple audiences?

  • Identify most critical audiences

  • Consider using secondary navigation for them

  • Mercury site

  • Another example of secondary navigation: Human Health Research Program Web site


You will always have more than one audience

You will always have more than one audience

  • Don’t forget those with disabilities

    • Blind visitors – screen reader users

    • Colorblind visitors

  • Must comply with Section 508

    • Present equivalent information


Multiple audiences

Multiple audiences

  • Identify lowest-level audience and write to that audience on home page and basic information page

    • Lead at Superfund Sites Web site

      Home page:


Basic information page

Basic Information page:


Writing for the web

Standard for home pages

Standard for Basic Information pages


Useful information home pages we love

Useful information: Home pages we love

  • DRINK

  • Abandoned Mine Lands

  • New Source Review

  • Methane

What do they all have in common?

They are all navigation

pages and they all limit text.


Writing for the web

You can also write for more technical audiences on pages further down in the site.

Lead at Superfund Sites

  • Basic Information page:

  • Adult Lead Methodology page (3 levels down):


What do your audiences want to know

What do your audiences want to know?

  • Your site is not about YOU

    • Viewers are impatient and selfish

  • Brainstorm

  • What do audiences for Web site on Lead at Superfund Sites want to know?


So what did they do

So what did they do?


Writing for the web

Any questions?


Writing links remember two things

Writing LinksRemember Two Things:

1. Link as much as you can.

2. Get to the point!


Write for your audiences links

Write for your audiences :LINKS

Green Power home page: lots of links,

but doesn’t get to the point. “Link spatter”:


But why not

But why not…

  • Why join the Green Power Partnership?

  • Top 10 partners:

    • local governments

    • federal governments

    • colleges and universities

  • Green power purchasing guide

  • Benefits

  • Award winners

  • Green Power Challenges

    • Fortune 500 Challenge

    • College and University Challenge

      What did they do?


Exercise rewrite by adding links then organizing them

EXERCISE: Rewrite by adding links, then organizing them

In the following section you will be provided with a range of information that should help you decide which is the right mortgage for you. It also provides you information about the other costs associated with a mortgage. There are specific sub-sections for first-time buyers and for those seeking to re-mortgage.


This way better than no links

This way? Better than no links!

In the following section you will be provided with a range of information that should help you decide which is the right mortgage for you. It also provides you information about the other costs associated with a mortgage. There are specific sub-sections for first-time buyers and for those seeking to re-mortgage.


This way even better it gets to the point

This way: Even better. It gets to the point.

  • Decide which mortgage is right for you

  • Other costs associated with your mortgage

  • First-time buyers' mortgage guide

  • Re-mortgaging: what you need to know


Use action verbs

Use Action Verbs

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new version 6.1 of SpazzAp.

Demo and download SpazzAp version 6.1!


Don t waste words

Don’t waste words

XYZ Limited strives to develop and supply the most robust and cutting-edge financial services for the aviation industry

Financial services


Creating meaty links

Creating Meaty Links

  • Before they click, they should understand:

    • Type of file – PDF? HTML?

    • Type of content – report? brochure?

    • Precise subject of information they will see when they click

    • Link text should be content-rich


Seven secrets for creating great links

Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

#1: Make your link text meaningful

  • NO “click here” or “read more”


Not so helpful

Not-so-Helpful:

To learn about and access the TRI Reporting software, click here for more information. To view contact information click here.

vs.

Helpful:

  • Learn about and download TRI reporting software

  • Contact information


Seven secrets for creating great links1

Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

#1: Another way to make your link text meaningful (cont’d):

  • YES ! Link text should match destination page


Writing for the web

Oh no ! Where am I?


Writing for the web

Lost again !


Seven secrets for creating great links2

Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

#2: Links should be in English, not URLese.

Consider displaying the URL, but not as part of the link text

No: More detailed information is available at www.epa.gov/dioxin/chars.html

Yes: The dioxin characteristics page provides detailed tables (www.epa.gov/dioxin/chars.html).


Seven secrets for creating great links3

Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

#2 (cont’d): Links should be in English, not URLese.

  • Use with mailto: links


Seven secrets for creating great links4

Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

#2 (cont’d): Links should be in English, not URLese, or anything else.

Washington Convention & Tourism Visitors Guide


Seven secrets for creating great links5

Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

#3: Don’t make the link text too short

  • Optimally, 7-12 words

  • Otherwise,

    • hard to see, so fails to grab attention

    • doesn’t explain enough


Seven secrets for creating great links6

Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

#4: Don’t bury your links

  • Scanners will skip over

  • Set out links below related info


Seven secrets for creating great links7

Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

#5: Use blue text and underlined text (andblue and underlined text) only for links


Seven secrets for creating great links8

Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

#6: External links: Don’t link to home pages of organizations; link only to specific related pages

  • it’s EPA policy

  • Make sure your viewers know you are taking them to related pages

    Three ways to link to ED’s mercury page:

    .

    No:Environmental Defense

    No:Environmental Defense mercury page

    Yes:Environmental Defense mercury page


  • Seven secrets for creating great links9

    Seven Secrets for Creating Great Links

    #7: Provide context. Don’t throw links up and think you’re done.

    Mercury site schools page

    Create “gateway pages”:

    Second coastal conditions report (2005)

    9/11 Commission Report


    Link requirements sidebar links

    Link Requirements: Sidebar Links

    Use standard order

    • First three sidebar links:

      • Home

      • Basic Information

      • Where You Live

        Use standard language

    • Frequent Questions

    • Newsroom


    Link requirements sidebar links cont d

    Link Requirements: Sidebar Links (cont’d)

    • Not permitted in the sidebar

      • Search

      • Contact Us

    • Sidebar standard

      (All standards are at epa.gov/webguide/standards)

    Any questions?


    Write for your audiences images

    Write for your audiences :Images

    • Images should

      • be accessible to those

        with disabilities

        • captioning images well

          and creating good alt text

      • through captions and alt text,

        • be understandable

        • relate to the surrounding text; convey meaning rather than appearance

    Alt text


    Images should be accessible to those with disabilities

    Images should be accessible to those with disabilities

    • 508 training goes into more detail

    • Focus today is only on writing:

      • captioning images well and creating good alt text

      • when to use captioning and when to use alt text


    Writing for the web

    Images should be

    understandable

    What are those?!?


    Writing for the web

    Alt text: CVD-grown carbon nanotube

    SEM images, courtesy NASA

    Still not so helpful!

    What should have been done?


    Writing for the web

    Caption:

    Carbon nanotubes are one-atom-thick sheets of graphite rolled up into a seamless cylinder with diameter of the order of a nanometer. Such cylindrical carbon molecules have novel properties that make them potentially useful in many applications in nanotechnology, electronics, optics and other fields of materials science.


    Alt text should convey the purpose or meaning of the image not the appearance or the title

    Alt text should convey the purpose or meaning of the image, not the appearance or the title

    Meaning/Purpose

    Appearance/Title


    Alt text should convey the purpose or meaning of the image not the appearance or the title1

    Alt text should convey the purpose or meaning of the image, not the appearance or the title

    • Endocrine disruptor screening program site

      • Alt text: Collage of eggs, alligator, frog, pregnant woman and DNA helix

    How could this alt text be better?


    Here s how

    Here’s how:

    • Create text that explains

    • the meaning:

    • Endocrine disruptors are

    • chemicals that interfere with

    • the functioning of endocrine

    • (hormone) systems, which

    • control biological processes

    • such as growth, reproduction, development, and metabolism, and which are found in all mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and many other types of living organisms.

    • 2. Make it a caption, not alt text, so that everyone can see it

    • (from EDSP home page )


    A good caption that conveys meaning

    A good caption that conveys meaning:

    • CADDIS: a process to help biologists identify causes of impairments in streams and other aquatic systems


    Writing for the web

    Sometimes it makes sense to use

    no caption:


    Writing for the web

    Sometimes it makes sense to use both

    a caption and alt text:

    Greening EPA: Individual EPA Laboratories' Net

    Energy Intensity Impacts for FY 2005


    Writing for the web

    Sometimes it makes sense to use both:

    CAPTION:For each lab, the yellow portion of the bar represents the reported energy consumption after energy savings from completed recommissioning projects and mechanical system upgrades are deducted, and green power purchases are credited.

    ALT TEXT: Bar chart describing the impact of energy conservation projects, recommissioning, and green power purchases on EPA's reported energy use in FY 2005. Click for text.

    (from Greening EPA chart )

    The key is common sense ! Any questions?


    Text structures translating print documents for the web

    Text Structures; Translating Print Documents for the Web


    Include text structures that make your pages easy to scan

    Include text structures that make your pages easy to scan

    • Use anchors/tables of content

      • What We Look For page

      • Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) page

    • Include “Top of page” links

    Any questions?


    Translating print documents for the web

    Translating Print Documentsfor the Web

    • Information that works in print doesn’t necessarily work online

    • Viewers behave differently than readers do:

      • They scan

      • Their eye-tracking is different

      • They can’t underline or highlight

      • They expect to be able to click

      • They often land in the middle of the content (not the home page, not the top of the document)


    Translating print documents for the web1

    Translating Print Documentsfor the Web

    • PDF is not the whole story

    • “PDF: When to Use” Web standard prohibits publication only in PDF unless

      • the document is longer than 5 pages, or

      • you need to preserve the formatting or layout of the original document (e.g. for printing; example is a poster), or

      • you need to publish a paper document for which no electronic version exists (e.g., scanned documents)


    Translating print documents for the web displaying them in html

    Translating Print Documentsfor the Web: Displaying Them in HTML

    • If both HTML and PDF versions are online, link from HTML version to PDF version

    • Fact sheets

      • Static rather than dynamic

      • Visitors expect Web content to be dynamic, so…

      • Clue them in:

        • Prominent date at top

        • “Fact Sheet”

        • Example


    Translating print documents for the web displaying them in html1

    Translating Print Documentsfor the Web: Displaying Them in HTML

    • Consider that you may need to:

    • Incorporate links

    • Update content

    • Copyedit

    • Chunk or reorganize the content

    • Add related audio or video content

    • Add or delete text

    • Delete references to “EPA’s Web site”


    Translating print documents for the web displaying them in html2

    Translating Print Documentsfor the Web: Displaying Them in HTML

    • NO:

    • YES: Replace entire bullet with

    • Download the final amendments.


    Really interested in translating print documents for the web

    Really interested in translating print documents for the Web?

    • Recommend training “Repurposing Print Documents for the Web”

      • Offered in March 2008 by Web Manager University (webcontent.gov)

      • Ewriteonline.com can offer it to your organization


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