Ideas for Content Writing

Services section: sells talents, skills, solutions, and experience, not products.

Good ideas for writing text

  • Draw reader in, help reader orient and convey information
  • Write to help people navigate the site: make steps clear, state what options are available
  • Short sentences, simple words, active sentences
  • Deliver complete and accurate information, present info in useful format for reader, achieve consistent and natural style (no types or errors), coordinate among multiple writes who are drawing from a variety of information sources
  • Encourage reader to visualize "Visualize this.. " "picture this…"

Things to Remember When Writing

1. Exchange value for time. Clients will gladly exchange time for value and insight. Provide relevant, valuable, and usable content, and prospective clients will keep reading and will likely return to your site. Clients look you up on the Web for one reason: to solve a problem. They expect your site to be worth the time it takes to find out if you can help.

2. Create client-focused content. Don't limit your site content to describing who is in your practice and what services you provide. A tip-off to a consultant-focused site is if the navigation bar is dominated by choices such as "Our Services," "About Us," "Our Qualifications," and "Our Clients." Prospective clients rarely care about your business until they're convinced you can help. Focus your site's content on the client's problems first, and then tell them about your qualifications.

3. Eliminate jargon and buzzwords. Many consultants use jargon as an easy shorthand. Unfortunately, most jargon either confuses readers or turns them off and sends them scurrying from your Web site. Use simple, descriptive language on every page of the site.

4. Content trumps design. Some sites rely on design, rather than content, to engage visitors. Using gimmicks like flash introductions and pop-up windows may work for some businesses, but don't waste your visitors' time waiting for the home page to load. These design features are interesting once, but they get old fast.

5. Interact but don't intrude. Consultants can use their sites to start or nurture relationships with clients. Using simple tools like e-mail, e-newsletters, webinars, and blogs, the consultant can easily stay in touch. Communicating with clients electronically demands that you know where the line is between being helpful and being a pest.

Sending clients high-value content at regular intervals can be just what's needed to convince them you have the right stuff. Go overboard and you'll lose clients' interest.

6. Communicate with personality. Many corporate Web sites are written by a committee of marketers, consultants, and executives. The resulting prose is stilted and lifeless. Use your Web site to give visitors a glimpse of the personality and culture of your practice.

7. Know your visitors. The content and design of your site evolves over time. The best way to understand what works on your site -- and what doesn't -- is to regularly monitor your visitor traffic. Learn which pages are accessed, what downloads are most in demand, and how many people are visiting your site. Search the patterns of your visitors' behavior for clues as to how you can improve the site.

8. Make everything easy. The hardest task in building a great Web site is to make everything easy. Visitors should quickly understand the purpose of your practice and what action you want them to take, whether it's to download a special report or make contact with you.

Visitors want to be able to navigate through your site and locate information easily. Most people scan Web pages, so every page must be easy to read. And simplify signups for newsletters or other offerings.

Visitors should not have to fill out pages of information to receive a download. Make sure all pages load quickly.

9. Your site is a marketing hub. Your Web site should help convey your visual identity and be the marketing hub of your practice -- equal parts front office, demonstration lab, resource library, and publicity machine. The content, appearance, and usability of your site reflect your style and show your competence as a professional and how you treat clients.

Your site serves as a showroom to demonstrate how your firm makes a difference to clients' businesses. Your Web site gives you a platform from which to tell your story, describe your mission, list your clients, and educate. It also provides you with visibility in and out of your industry.

10. Keep up with the times. Web visitors assign credibility to sites that are current, or at least demonstrate that they have been recently reviewed. Don't let your site get stale. At a minimum, refresh content once a month.

Technology is constantly changing. Keep up with the latest and greatest developments, but pick and choose only those that will enhance your Web site's effectiveness as a marketing tool for your business.

11. If you build it, will they come? In the end, what makes a consultant's Web site great is all about results. And results begin with attracting visitors to your site. A great site is worthless if no one knows it's out there.

Ten Quick Tips to Make Accessible Websites

  • Images and Animation. Use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual.
  • Image maps. Use client-side MAP and text for hotspots.
  • Multimedia. Provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.
  • Hypertext links. Use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid "click here."
  • Page organization. Use headings, lists, and consistent structure. Use CSS for layout and style where possible.
  • Graphs & charts. Summarize or use the longdesc attribute.
  • Scripts, applets, & plug-ins. Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.
  • Frames. Use NOFRAMES and meaningful titles.
  • Tables. Make line by line reading sensible. Summarize.
  • Check your work. Validate. Use tools, checklist, and guidelines at www.w3.org/TR/WCAG.
 

Process for Selecting Web Content

  1. If you already have a draft or a previous web page, put it aside. (I know this is difficult, but it is the best way to rethink a web page.)
  2. Think about the topic from your site visitors’ point of view.
  3. List the questions that your site visitors ask about the topic. (It’s best if you actually know what questions they ask. Use all the sources in Chapter 2 to find out about what your users want to know.)
  4. Decide which question your site visitors would ask first – and which they would ask next – and next after that – until you have all the questions in an order that is logical to your site visitors.
  5. If you have a draft or previous web page, use it as source material to answer the questions you have written down. (It’s okay to cut and paste as long as you edit what you paste so that it’s a good answer to the question.)  If you do not have a draft or previous web page, write answers to the questions in your list. Just answer the question. Don’t add fluff.
  6. If you are working from a draft or previous web page, look over what is left that hasn’t yet gone under a question in your list. Do your site visitors care about any of what is left? Is any of it critical for your site visitors to know? If it is critical, write a question that your site visitors might ask so that you can give them the answer.
  7. If you have questions in your list for which you do not have an answer,find the person who can answer the question and include the answer on your web page.
  8. Read your new draft. Does it flow logically?
  9. Discard what you have not used. If your site visitors neither need nor care about the information, why include it on the web page? This may be the most difficult step to take, but remember that the web is about what people wan t and need to know, not about saying everything there is to say on a topic.

 

Ten guidelines for tuning up your sentences

 Write clear and effective paragraphs, sentences, and words:

1. Talk to your site visitors. Use “you.”

2. Show that you are a person and that your organization includes people.

3. Write in the active voice (most of the time).

4. Write short, simple, straightforward sentences.

5. Cut unnecessary words.

6. Give extra information its own place.

7. Keep paragraphs short.

8. Start with the context – first things first, second things second.

9. Put the action in the verbs, not the nouns.

10. Use your web users’ words.

Twelve guidelines for writing meaningful links

1. Don’t make new program and product names into links by themselves.

2. Rethink document titles and headings that turn into links.

3. Think ahead. Match links and page titles.

4. Be as explicit as you can in the space you have – and make more space if you need it.

5. Use action phrases for action links.

6. Use single nouns sparingly; longer, more descriptive links often work better.

7. Add a short description if people need it – or rewrite the link.

8. Make the link meaningful – not Click here, not just More.

9. Coordinate when you have multiple, similar links.

10. Don’t embed links if you want people to stay with your information.

11 . If you use bullets with links, make them active, too.

12. Make both unvisited and visited links obvious.

Just to let you know, this page was last updated Saturday, Feb 17 18