Writing for the Web quality of content
Content • Content is what visitors care about • Usability studies show that “users comment on the content first; if the content isn’t relevant, they don’t care about any other aspect of the design”. • Why are you creating this content? • Does anyone care about this content? • Quick case study… • An organisation that had a 4,000 page website audited their content. They got rid of 1,000 pages….
Reading on the Web • Reading from computer screens is 25% slower than from paper • People almost always scan your pages • Users won't read your text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner
2 key questions • Am I on the right page? • Where do I go next? • Page structure is more important than page length
Page structure Most important Most important material first (start with conclusion) Less important Background
Use titles and headings • Make it easy to answer question 1 • “Am I on the right page?” • Titles and headings • determine if people read on. • visually break up the text - for scanning • help to ensure your content is sufficiently focused • are important because you don’t know where people arrived from
Titles – basic tips • Short – max 8 words • Should be meaningful on its own • Remember that titles are displayed out of context – search results and bookmarks • Use keywords your users look for • Titles are important for search engine rankings • http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100413170710.htm Word for word – the title is the most important text on the page! Take time to get it right.
Headings • Don't need to be standalone • Do need to be informative • Should anticipate the reader's questions • Are one of the most frequently missing pieces from web content
Lists • Use them! • Bulleted lists or numbered lists make a big difference – much easier to scan • Put as much info in the stem as possible • Avoid lengthy bullet items
Emphasis • Use bold to emphasise key phrases. • This is an underutilised tactic • Don't bold single words • Avoid italics (too hard to read) • Never use underline for emphasis
Short = Good • How much shorter? • Short headings: 4 – 8 words • Short summaries: 30 – 50 words • Short sentences: 15 – 20 words • Short paragraphs: 40 – 70 words General rule: at least 50% less text than offline equivalent Cut your offline text in half, then try to cut in half again.
More Casual Tone • Be informal (or less formal) • Try to make it personal where possible, use “you” and “we”. • Aim for more conversational style • Not as easy to do for all organisations, but the more formal, the less inviting. • Don’t sound like a government department or company, sound like a person.
Links: Why do people go online? • Generally for 2 reasons: • To find useful information • To do something useful • Links help them find it • Links help them do it • Links are your call to action
Links - key considerations • Good links help users scan • Use meaningful words and phrases (NOT “click here for info on…”) • Don’t construct the sentence around the link phrase – write the sentence normally. • Try to use verbs as the focus of the link • Good links tend to be 7-12 words • more likely to contain the trigger words • short enough to find trigger word easily
Urrr? What’s the point of this?