Writing for the Web
Good writing can increase your site's usability and credibility
Clients sometimes make the mistake of writing long, editorial-style text for the web. We’ve found that even perfectly competent writers – professionals, like marketing communications pros or publishers – often do not understand how writing for the web is different than writing for print-based media.
Basically, most people don’t READ on the web, not at least, in the sense of reading a book, or magazine or even a piece of marketing collateral. Instead people come to the web “to do” something:
“I need to learn about my prescription. I want to compare camera prices and features. I have to check out the weather in Chicago. I’m going to check my account, download music, upload my pictures, pay my bills, and print my reservation,” etc.
Good web writing supports users accomplishing goals
If you can anticipate what your site’s visitors want to do and make it clear and easy for them to do it, you can increase your site’s usability and credibility. In fact, you can double it, according to Jakob Nielsen, renowned usability expert and the author of a great web writing guide published by Sun Microsystems: http://www.sun.com/980713/webwriting/. It states:
79% of users scan the page instead of reading word-for-word.
Reading from computer screens is 25% slower than from paper.
Web content should have 50% of the word count of its paper equivalent.
Good web writing is short and concise
It should be structured in an “inverted pyramid” style with the conclusion at the top and increasing detail below or on subsequent pages. Web writing should support text scanning:
Highlighted keywords (links are one type of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others).
Meaningful headlines and sub-headings.
One idea per paragraph (users move on if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph).
Write for action
Visitors to your site have their goals, and you have yours. You want your site to generate leads, increase sales, foster participation, etc. In order to be a business driver, your web text can’t just be a passive statement of information, i.e., just “features and benefits.” Well-written and designed web pages need to have clearly articulated “Calls to Action” that allow visitors to accomplish their tasks while inviting them to take the next steps in meeting your goals, that is, inviting visitors to engage in a process that leads to increased net results for you!
“Calls to Action” can be any number of things, for example:
Ready to Try it?...
Download our FREE demo. [Download Now]
Get 20% off your purchase. [Print Coupon]
Sign-up for a sample session. [Sign Up]
Find a Dealer [Enter Zipcode]
Call us at 800-123-4567
User forms with auto email responders and notification features, printer-friendly pages, polls and surveys, zip code locators, RSS feeds, email-a-friend functionality, and personalization are all tactics that allow you to engage visitors, increase interaction, and capture data. A Content Management System (CMS) that supports these types of features will enable rapid implementation.
Write for your site’s non-human visitors
Lastly, take search engines into consideration. You’ll want to use appropriate keywords on your site and make sure they are relevant to the content on each page.
Breaking your copy up into headlines and sub-heads is good for your readers and good for search engines as well. There are many other things to keep in mind for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)—things like meaningful hyperlinks (hint: “Click here” isn’t one!) and good page titles. To learn more, join us Thursday, March 8 for our FREE SEO seminar.
— Heidi Merscher, Creative Director, NetReach email@example.com
Tip Sheet: 3 Nifty Tricks
Bad Email Address in Microsoft® Outlook®
Has this ever happened to you? You send an email to a mistyped address or someone has changed their email address and now in that handy list that appears when you start to type an email address the wrong address is stuck in the list. How do you get rid of a bad address in that popup list?
The answer is: Start typing an address in Outlook, use the up/down arrows on your keyboard to “highlight” the address you want to remove from the list, then delete it, using the delete key. I like it when the answer is easier than the question.
Google is Calculating!
You don’t have to hunt for your calculator on your desk or your desktop! Did you know that if you type anything that looks like a calculation in the Google search bar that Google will assume you are trying to make a calculation and just do it. Try:
To learn more go to: http://www.google.com/help/calculator.html or see http://www.google.com/help/features.html to learn about other features you can access using the Google search bar.
3.5 USD in GBP in the Googlebar will give you Dollars to Pounds.
3.5 dollars in South Korean money will give you Dollars to Won.
Try “how many teaspoons in a cup” and the next time you can’t find the measuring cup, you can just use a teaspoon 48 times. Who knew?
A Welcome Sight for Sore Eyes: IE7
How is your eyesight? Tired of looking at email and computer screens all day? Me too. That’s why I loved stumbling on the Zoom Feature in the latest browser from Microsoft. I put the upgrade off for a while, but when I finally decided that the added security was worth more than the trouble it was going to be to figure out a new interface, I dove in. There are a lot of changes to the way IE7 looks but I was quite pleased to find something completely new—a magnifying glass with a 100% in the bottom right-hand corner. If you have ever been to a website that is hard to read because the font is just a little too small, this is the solution. Click the 100% to change the magnification to 125%, click again to change it to 150%, the third click will put it back to 100%. Very handy, I just wish they had it for newspapers.
NetReach at webcontent2007.com in Chicago
Will Bast, COO and Stephen Bouikidis, Executive VP to present at Web Content 2007 Conference, June 18th and 19th in Chicago. The conference is for business professionals involved with creating, organizing and maintaining web content. The two-day conference provides three tracks: content design and access, content development and management and emerging tools and technologies. Each track offers attendees a selection of workshops, case studies, and presentations lead by recognized Internet authorities.
» Read more
Case Study: Drexel School of Public Health Empowered by the Web
Drexel University’s School of Public Health is a fast-growing, rising star in the world of public health. Rapid growth has invited some challenges with regard to the school’s communications and marketing efforts.
School staff was interested in working with NetReach to provide consultation on how to use the web to support new student recruitment and brand-building. The benefits of using cmScribe, NetReach’s content management system (CMS), to facilitate the development and maintenance of the site was integral to realizing some crucial tactics outlined in the preliminary phase of consultation.
To be effective, the school’s broad & deep information and content needed to be presented in a consistent, logically organized fashion, and needed to be efficiently managed. We consulted to restructure the information organization making it easy for diverse audience groups to access what they need.
» Learn how cmScribe empowers Drexel University's School of Public Health
What's New in 4.99
Rotating Content - Display any content on a rotating basis. Rotation can be set to daily, weekly, monthly or on browser reload.
Poll - Who's your favorite actor? What's your view on the current world political situation? Use the new cmScribe Poll to find out.
Email a Friend - Send an email with a link back to the website to one or more email addresses.
Printer-friendly page link - Lets visitors know at a glance that a page is printer- friendly with this new panel.
Printer-friendly CSS stylesheet - Using cmScribe's style sheet edit area, now easily configure printer-friendly style sheets.
W3C compliance assistance
Thurs. March 8, 2007
3:30 to 5:00pm
5:00 to 6:00pm Refreshments
The seminar will run twice, with refreshments offered between sessions.
FREE Search Engine Optimization
Learn about tools and techniques for optimizing your website for the major search engines and get better results! We will discuss Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and marketing tactics.
Finding your site via Google, Yahoo, or MSN and getting people to your site is a very important part of your website's success. This seminar will cover the tools, processes, and methods for getting better results from search engines and strategies for creating a destination that Google, Yahoo, or MSN will love to point to…
» Learn More & Register