Letting Go of the Words
Information = content
A Web site should:
- answer a question or help complete a task
- easy to find and understand
- accurate, up to date, and credible
People skim, they do not read, Why?
- too busy
- trying to answer a question
- trying to do a task
- there is so much on the web that we only have time to be quick
Good web writing is a conversation. It answers questions and lets people grab and go.
Setup scenarios and personas to help understand your audience.
Read just the headings on the page - does it make sense.
Things to Do
- Put important forms on the home page.
- Put the forms high up on the page.
- Put your search box at the top of your page.
- A well designed page should tell you what to do without reading.
- Divide web content by task; by questions people ask; type of info.
- Writing in inverted pyramid style - most important at the top.
- Reloading a page is hard for screen readers. Show/hide is better because there is no reload.
- Make page elements obvious using patterns and alignment.
- Keep headings from floating; put headings close to the text
- People prefer sans serif on the web.
- Always provide good contrast between text and background colour
Links can be embedded in the text but if you want people to finish reading, put the links at the end.
Make visited links change colour.
Read the writing. Check your links. Check your facts.
Use a consistent set of words (don't overuse the thesaurus).
Get feedback or have someone else read it.
Use style guide for consistency.
Why use lists?
- Lists put active space around each item so people can skim.
- Tables take away words that are not necessary so people can easily scan.
- Use bullets that match the site but don't make people wonder if bullets have more meaning that they do.
Keep same sentence structure for list items
Present instructions as steps (even complex instructions)
- Headings are the outline of your page
- Headings can be the questions visitors ask..
- Use action phrases in headings for instructions.
- Use parallelism in your head. i.e. be consistent in your wording style
- Use illustrations/pictures to help people visualize quantities and dimensions.
- Use tables for comparing numbers
- Use tables for series, of if, then sentences (left column)
- Do not put same page links in left column navigation.
- Same page links belong under the page title.
Let your writing rest before posting.
Letting Go of the Words - Janice Redish
2007: Morgan Kaufman Publishers, New York