Web Writing That Works!

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For details on the ideas:

1.  Trim that Text!

2.  Make Text
     Scannable

3.  Cook up Hot Links

4.  Write Chunky
     Paragraphs

5.  Reduce Cognitive
     Burdens

6.  Make Meaningful
     Menus

Job Aid

Here's a list of the ideas we stress, with the guidelines for web writing that works, to serve as a job aid. 

For a printable one-page sheet, use the PDF version.

Idea #1: Trim that Text!

1a. Cut any paper-based text by 50%.
1b. Make each paragraph short.
1c. Delete marketing fluff.
1d. Move vital but tangential or supplemental material.
1e. Convert repeating categories of information into tables.
1f. Beware of cutting so far that you make the text ambiguous.

Idea #2: Make Text Scannable!

2a. Create a meaningful title.
2b. Insert meaningful headlines and subheads.
2c. Highlight keywords and phrases-and links.
2d. Turn any list into a bulleted or numbered list.

Idea #3: Cook up Hot Links

3a. Make clear what the user will get from the link.
3b. Within a sentence, make the link the emphatic element.
3c. Shift focus from the links or linked-to documents to the subject.
3d. Provide depth and breadth through plentiful links to related information within your site.
3e. Establish credibility by offering outbound links.
3f. Show where we are.
3g. Make meta information public.
3h Write URLs that humans can read.
3i. Make links accessible.
3j. Tell people about a media object before they download.
3k. Announce the new with special links.
3l. Write meta-tags to have your pages found.

Idea #4: Build Chunky Paragraphs

4a. Design each paragraph around one idea.
4b. Put the idea of the paragraph first.
4c. If you must include the context, put that first.
4d. Put key conclusions, ideas, news, at the start of the article.

Idea #5: Reduce Cognitive Burdens

5a. Reduce the number of clauses per sentence.
5b. Blow up nominalizations and noun trains.
5c. Watch out for ambiguous phrases a user might have to debate.
5d. Surface the agent and action, so users don't have to guess.
5e. Make positive statements so people understand right away.
5f. Reduce scrolling.
5g. Let users print or save the entire document at once so users can avoid reading any more onscreen.

Idea #6: Write Meaningful Menus

6a. Think of a heading as an object you reuse many times.
6b. Write each menus so it offers a meaningful structure.
6c. Offer multiple routes to the same information.
6d. Write and display several levels at once.
6e. When users arrive at the target, make it obvious.
6f. Confirm the location.
 

Other resources

Shuffling the Big Ideas

The Ultimate Challenge: Chocorama

 

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  2004 Jonathan and Lisa Price
The Communication Circle
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