10 steps to better web content5 steps to better PDFs Luke Chaput de Saintonge Content strategist, WAMS
This is an awful bit of web content. I’m going to try and fix it using the guidance from the new WAMS editorial style guide.
Step 1: Get to the point. Remove unnecessary waffle / ‘happy talk’.
Step 2: ‘Frontload’ important information. This is the stuff people want to see first.
Step 3: Use the active not the passive voice, in most cases. Note, the last passive has been retained.
Step 5: Avoid jargon, slang or complex language. Explain difficult terms. Write out acronyms in full. Use plain English.
Step 6: Break up content, use headings and bullets to make your content easier to scan
Step 7: Don’t get hung up on design or fancy functionality. Concentrate on consistency and efficient communication.
Step 8: Avoid language that is too stiff or formal. Lose the ‘essay speak’. Don’t be afraid to use personal pronouns.
Step 9: Avoid ‘inline links’ if possible, as well as links that are not self-explanatory.
Step 10: Get rid of those unnecessary ‘emphatic flourishes’ – italics, bold, errant capitals.
If you’re struggling with web content like this (below), WAMS have a new editorial style guide that we can circulate in draft form in the New Year.
Test results User testing Before • 68% accuracy • 13.64s per question After • 78% accuracy ^15% • 11.39s per question ^20% Stats from MS Word Before • Words: 172 • Characters: 849 • Passive sentences: 60% • Flesch Reading Ease: 36.2% After • Words: 155 • Characters: 846 • Passive sentences: 11% • Flesch Reading Ease: 40.8% = shorter, more direct and easier to understand
5 steps to better PDFs • Publish less of them!
Think about accessibility Tag your source document properly,e.g. using Word styles
3. Use a table of contents and ‘back to top’ link to improve internal navigation
4. Give each important PDF its own ‘gateway page’ • Summarises document, prepares reader for what to expect. • Provides stable URL – better for link maintenance. • Better for search. • Useful to organise related documents, e.g. appendices, archives, other docs in the series.
5. Aim for stylistic consistency WAMS have a new template you can use.