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WWW: Writing for the Wired World International Association of Business Communicators November 28, 2001 Darlene Fichter www.lights.com Overview Web Writing - Do’s & Don’ts Format Scanning Style Language Jargon Hearsay or Research? Usability Studies

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www writing for the wired world

WWW: Writing for the Wired World

International Association of Business

Communicators

November 28, 2001

Darlene Fichter

www.lights.com

overview
Overview
  • Web Writing - Do’s & Don’ts
    • Format
    • Scanning
    • Style
    • Language
    • Jargon
hearsay or research usability studies
Hearsay or Research? Usability Studies
  • Observed and tested thousands of people using the web

www.usability.gov

www.useit.com

Stephen Krug, Don’t Make Me Think

reading writing
Reading & Writing
  • Goal is to communicate
    • Strategy
    • Key messages
    • Your audience

There is nothing more important than the strategy phase. If you don’t spend time on it, it’s like being on a dark road without your headlights on.

Drue Miller, Webmistress Vivid Studios

how users read on screens
How Users Read on Screens
  • How do people read on the screen?
    • Top to bottom
    • Left to right
    • Focus first on

the micro-content

    • Scroll to the bottom
    • Only after failing

- side menu

- top menu

reading
Reading
  • 25% slower on the screen
  • Arial or Times Roman fonts at 12 pt are the most legible
users don t read
Users Don’t Read
  • People who are looking for information on the web, they don't READ, they SCAN.
  • Most people WILL NOT read instructions or HELP.
what if they need to read
What if they need to read?

Tips:

  • Provide a good headline and summary.
  • Make it easy to print the 20 page report or pieces of a 100 page report.
  • Make sure that longer documents are indexed!
long html documents
Long HTML Documents
  • Chunk it
  • Present a “model” that the users grasp
  • Offer internal navigation
    • page to page
    • back to section
    • back to table of contents
scanability
“Scanability”
  • Create headings and subheadings
  • Be consistent
    • use font and/or color to offset headings
which is easiest to read
Which is easiest to read?

Anatomy

Biology

Biotechnology

Chemistry

Microbiology

Physics

Zoology

  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Physics
  • Zoology

Anatomy Biology Biotechnology Chemistry Microbiology Physics Zoology

Research says: List with bullets

tabular content
Tabular Content

Books

20th Century

Journals

Electronic Books

Modernism

Impressionism

Art Format

20th Century Books

Modernism Journals

Impressionism Electronic

Research says: Use Categories

scanning for links
Scanning for Links

How to Find Information

  • Search the catalogue
  • Browse by subject
  • For e-books, click here
  • Visit our list of web links
scan for links
Scan for Links
  • Make the links in your text meaningful.
  • Make visited and unvisited links contrast with the base font color and with each other.
  • Designing for scent – Jared Spool 4-9 words
style
Style
  • Concise
  • Pyramid style (newspaper)
  • Scanning – lists, lists and more lists
  • Looks a lot like PowerPoint
language
Language
  • Use the language of your users
  • Ambiguity is a problem
  • Provide context
classic mistakes
Classic Mistakes
  • Web sites are full of jargon
  • Organized by internal departments and use internal names
other important writing tasks
Other Important Writing Tasks

404 Document Not Found

  • Errors
    • Should stand out from other text
    • Should be comprehensible
things to avoid
Things to Avoid
  • “Marketese”
    • Anything that sounds like “advertising” is a complete turn off … the best, the biggest …
what works
What works?

Have you ever been at a web development meeting where people debated the size of an image or the color of link or a label for hours?

cookie test
“Cookie” Test
  • Preference or “cookie” testing
    • My Account
    • Your Account Status
    • Chequing Account
    • Login
paper mockups
Paper Mockups
  • Test pages and ask where would you click to do X, Y and Z?
imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
  • Test someone else’s page or site
task based testing
Task Based Testing
  • Real users doing typical tasks
  • Observers
  • Analysis
secret to writing for the wired world
Secret to Writing for the Wired World
  • Observe, test, and learn
  • Test some more
thank you
Thank you!
  • Questions?
  • Darlene Fichter

Northern Lights Internet Solutions Ltd.

  • Web Sites Usability & Writing
    • http://www.lights.com/talks/