Writing Content for Your Website
Meaningful content on your web site helps visitors make descisions or have fun. Determining what meaningful content is for your web site requires brainstorming and planning. Talk to your visitors, ask questions, look at competitors' web sites.
Your web site is more than just an advertisment, let people know who you are. Tell them what you do, why you do it, and show them how you do it. Testimonials of what others think of what you are doing.
In addition, add media - sound, motion, animation, or video. Make the experience as rich and engaging as possible. But always remember to consider mobile and keep the content light.
Different types of content help meet the different goals of your audience. Use them to add rich content to your site. Getting to know your audience well, so the content you provide hits the mark.
Writing Guidelines Checklist
- The content of the web site provides value to the user.
- The writing supports the reader’s task.
- The user is not required to read or navigate through irrelevant material to reach relevant material.
- The text includes a call to action.
- The reader interacts with the text as much as possible.
- The information is accurate, authoritative, and up to date.
- The information will be easy to maintain.
- Items that need to be regularly updated have been documented.
- The text is comprehensible and targeted at the right reading level.
- Sentences are short, direct, concrete, and active.
- New information is grounded in known information.
- Text is in lay language, avoiding jargon, insider references, and
- obscure humor.
- The typeface is legible and the font size is sufficient.
- Italics are avoided except at large sizes.
- Boldface and all caps are only used for short pieces of text. (Boldface is
- preferred over all caps.)
- Text has sufficient contrast with the background color and is not placed
- over a conflicting pattern.
- Emphasis is provided with appropriate headings, lead-ins, and pull quotes.
- Opening sentences and paragraphs summarize the content.
- Text is short, simple, and concise.
- Text is specific and objective.
- Text is broken into useful chunks and bulleted
- Page titles provide useful orienting clues.
- Headings match the reader’s goals.
- Readers know where they are and what each page is about.
- The text is divided between pages based on user tasks (i.e., pages are divided so users can skip portions irrelevant to them).
- If scrolling is required, the user has appropriate cues within the text that more material is present, and horizontal rules are avoided.
- Pages are self-explanatory: each page stands on its own.
- Fundamentals are sound: grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
- Tone is natural and accessible.
- Style is consistent.
- Terminology is unambiguous.
- Active sentences are used.
- Static text is never blue or underlined.
- Text links are left in the default color.
- Different types of links are distinguished graphically (e.g., audio clips
- vs. video clips).
- Link text is descriptive and specific.http://www.w3.org/QA/Tips/noClickHere
- Email links explicitly show the email address.
- Links don’t cross punctuation or line breaks.
- The order of steps through the form is clear.
- Submit buttons are clearly labeled with descriptive text.
- Reset buttons are avoided.
- Required fields are clearly labeled.
- Metatag description and keywords are provided for each page.
- Non-body text is specific and consistent: titles, ALT text, captions,
- headings, and buttons.
Writing for Screen Readers
- Text is concise.
- The top of the page contains meaningful, page-specific information.
- Link names are self-explanatory.
- The layout does not depend on a specific typeface or font size.
- The specified typeface works well on all platforms.
- The default font size of the browser is used.
- Semantic tags, rather than format tags, are used wherever possible.
- Text aligns with graphics on the page and with other text blocks.
- All centered text on the page is centered around one axis of symmetry.
- Related text doesn’t appear in multiple columns.
- Headings are closer to their body text than to other text on the screen.
- The copyright notice is present and in the correct format.
- Trademarks and service marks follow corporate standards.
- Company branding is strictly adhered to.
- No information is confidential or sensitive.
For each of the following, specify the standards this site will follow:
- Person:  1st and 2nd person (recommended), or  3rd person
- Commas before the last item in a list:
 “A, B, and C” (preferred), or  “A, B and C”
- Punctuation within quotes:  traditional punctuation (“text,”), or  logical punctuation (“text”,) (preferred)
- Header alignment:  left,  center, or  right
- Paragraph format:  double-space between paragraphs, or indented opening of paragraphs
- Common spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization conventions, e.g., Internet or  internet,  web site or  website,  email or  e-mail
- Preferred file format for text files (e.g., plain text, RTF, Word, HTML)
- Preferred file format for figures (e.g., EPS, Photoshop, TIFF, PICT, BMP, gif, jpeg)
Users visit your sites to find out how the processes work in your organizations. How your products work is a process. The more time you take to identify these processes and put them on the Web, the more users you'll have.
Principles and guidelines are general advice given by experts who have developed a knack for doing something wel l. The experts use "gut instinct," "intuition," "feelings." Experts follow certain guiding ideas and insights, tweaking here and there when something differs. They use procedures and processes, but in different ways each time.
REPRESENTING CONTENT TYPES ON THE WEB
This section suggests some ways to create the five content types on line. Some of these suggestions are relatively basic. Ample literature has been written concerning the appropriate way to represent the con tent types in multimedia (see Ruth Clark, 1992). Following are recom mendations for displaying them on the Web.
Facts Which is which?
- Use color graphical images to display facts.
- Use tables or other job aids to show codes. numbers. data. places. times. etc.
- Search on Job Aids in Yahoo.
Concept/Definitions What is it?
- Use graphics. JPEG images. photographs to explain new terms. ideas .
- Use text for short. brief glossary links.
- Take time to explain what the concept is not.
- Test your users with games. trivia questions. contests. etc .
Procedure/Steps How do you do it?
- Provide numbered lists that explain how to do the procedure.
- Write one step per line.
- Use short. terse sentences with action verbs. . •
- Insert small graphical screen shots to emphasize which one.
- Use links to show possible decisions or acti ons you mi ght take.
- Include reasons to perform a step .
Process/Stages How does it work?
- Use animation and video to dramatize how the pr ocess works.
- Rely on audio for quick reviews. .
- Provide text that explains how the process works or what happens during the process.
- Separate process into phases or stages. .
- Focus on functions. movements. conditions and ther results.
Principle/Guidelines What would an expert do?
- Explain the cause and effect of the principle.
- Identify the experts and introduced them asap.
- Identify guidelines and encourage flexibility.
- Provide varying opposing opinions. not a single rule or order.
- Get users on-line chatting. e-mailing. responding to newsgroups.
- Provide a success database.