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 • 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 • 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
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 Don’t write for your office director – s/he is not your audience, so no mission statements please!
Identify your audiences:What TO do • YES. Use personas.
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? • 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 • Don’t forget those with disabilities • Blind visitors – screen reader users • Colorblind visitors • Must comply with Section 508 • Present equivalent information
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:
Standard for home pages Standard for Basic Information pages
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.
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? • 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?
Writing LinksRemember Two Things: 1. Link as much as you can. 2. Get to the point!
Write for your audiences :LINKS Green Power home page: lots of links, but doesn’t get to the point. “Link spatter”:
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 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! 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. • 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 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 XYZ Limited strives to develop and supply the most robust and cutting-edge financial services for the aviation industry Financial services
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 #1: Make your link text meaningful • NO “click here” or “read more”
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 Links #1: Another way to make your link text meaningful (cont’d): • YES ! Link text should match destination page
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 Links #2 (cont’d): Links should be in English, not URLese. • Use with mailto: links
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 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 Links #4: Don’t bury your links • Scanners will skip over • Set out links below related info
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 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