Words Matter: Writing for the Web Darlene Fichter Data Library Coordinator, U of S Library January...

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  • Words Matter: Writing for the Web

    Darlene FichterData Library Coordinator, U of S LibraryJanuary 30, 2004

    OverviewWriting & Reading for the WebDos & DontsFormatScanningStyleLanguageJargon

    Reading & writingGoal is to communicateStrategyKey messagesYour audience

    Rule #1 Write for the way your user's readHow do people read on the screen?Top to bottomLeft to rightFocus first on the micro-content Scroll to the bottomOnly after failing - side menu- top menu


    People read

    25% slower on the screen Find Arial or Times Roman fonts at 12 pt the most legible

    Reading slower: implications for styleBe succinctPyramid style (newspaper)Scanning lists, lists and more listsLooks a lot like PowerPoint

    5 tipsStrike out useless words. Avoid noun sandwiches. Use you. Cut out redundancies. Use simple, short words.Avoid all uppercase words.

    commercial document delivery services

    Research shows: DONT readPeople who are looking for information dont read, they scan. If they have to read instructions or help page most people wont.

    ScanabilityHeadingsListsCreate zones or areas with blocks of colorUse links

    Effective headingsSet styles and stick to themBe consistent use font and/or color to offset headings

    Lists, lists and more listsLists are quick to scanDo not use complete sentences in lists

    Which is easiest to read? AnatomyBiologyBiotechnologyChemistryMicrobiologyPhysicsZoologyAnatomyBiologyBiotechnologyChemistryMicrobiologyPhysicsZoologyAnatomy Biology Biotechnology Chemistry Microbiology Physics Zoology1. White space 2. Bullets 3. Neither

    Which is faster? Why?BooksArtJournalsHistoryGeographyMathematicsSubjectsFormatArt BooksGeography JournalsHistory Maps Mathematics12

    Organizing content for viewingIn columns, not rowsCategorical not alphabetical

    Links that workMake the links in your text meaningfulMake visited and unvisited links contrast with the base font color.

    Example of scanningHow to Find InformationSearch the catalogueBrowse by subject3. For e-books, click hereVisit our list of web resources 5. Recommended web sites on Sociology

    Hypertext: classic mistakesNo followed link colorLinks are not underlinedOverused everything is a linkSelf referential - To start the tour, click here.

    Use links wiselyHypertext is powerful but can also be distractingLinks can help reduce clutter by moving information to separate Web pagesBut when concentrating on content, people often ignore embedded links

    Create links that dont need to be followedUse long descriptive links, captions, or headings so users can eliminate choicesUIEs research shows that links with 4 to 9 words are more effective

    Review what we know:Writing ScanningLinks

    TourSome sitesJot down notes / opinions about the ability to scan and find words quicklyIf you focus on the writing and content which are the strengths and weaknesses?

    LanguageUse the language of your usersAmbiguity is a problemProvide context

    Classic mistakes on library sitesLibrary sites are full of jargon

    WinSPIRSEbscoHostAccessDatabaseGatewayServicesElectronic Reserves

    Serial failureFinding articlesMany studiesDont know databaseNames of databaseSoftware product Ovid, Webspirs

    Labels are challengingTesting helpsUse a cookie testCreate a list of possible labels:My AccountBorrower InformationLibrary CardYour Library Card

    Go where your users areYour lunch room or hallways at lunch breakAim for cross-sectionAsk which they prefer

    Reverse Study: Take a few concepts and ask them what they would call the item or group of items?

    Other important writing tasksErrorsShould stand out from other text Should be comprehensible404 not found ?

    Things to avoidMarketeseAnything that sounds like advertising is a complete turn off the best, the biggest

    The Buzz: reusabilityWrite once, use many timesDevice independent accessBreak content in small nuggetsAssemble to suitWeb PagesWAPHeadline ServicesAlerts

    Myths & ironiesEveryone owns a printing pressExplosion of publishingDirth of good writingNeed good writers that can create concise and interesting headlines

    Secret to good wired writingObserve and learnWrite oftenRevise, revise and reviseRead the usability studies and research reports

    Good news for librariansSome of it comes naturallyGroup and categorizeAssign labelsThink about words & meaningService oriented

    Sites for web writingWriting for the Web Jakob Nielsen http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/Good Documents: How to write for the INTRAnet http://www.gooddocuments.com/Yales Web Style Guide: Editorial http://info.med.yale.edu/caim/manual/pages/editorial_style.htmlSoftware Usability Research Laboratory Newsletter http://www.usabilitynews.orgNational Cancer Institute Usability.gov http://www.usability.gov/

    Books, columns & sitesWriting and Usabilityhttp://library.usask.ca/~fichter/writing/

    Thank you!Questions?

    Darlene Fichter University of Saskatchewan Librarieslibrary.usask.ca/~fichter/

    Words Matter: Writing for the WebDarlene Fichter - library.usask.ca/~fichter/