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Writing Right for the Web... 8 Key Points from our Boston conference

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Web Writing... if people can't scan your content they won't read it

Hard to believe that the third annual conference on Writing Right for the Web sponsored by Academic Impressions started two weeks ago today in Boston. We had a great time... everyone who attended said they would recommend the conference to a friend. 

We covered quite a bit in two days during presentation time and small group tasks. I'll share more from that in the future. Today I'd like to summarize 8 key points we discussed that are important for everyone preparing web content.

8 Points to Evaluate your Web Content Presentation:
  • Focus your content on top tasks for the individual audiences that use your site. What are those "top tasks"? Hire Customer Carewords to do the research or do it yourself following these U.S. Government "how to" guidelines.
  • Make sure key content elements on every page are scannable in 5 seconds or less. If you don't do that, you will lose visitors.
  • Use heads and subheads that tell people something. If they can be lifted to anyone else's website they will not do anything special for you. Not "Academic Programs" but "Academic Programs: 63 Bachelors & 14 Master's"
  • Clear and simple language... if the first scan draws people into the page, make it easy for them to read on for more details. "Organization speak" is deadly for people who are not part of the organization.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short... about 5 lines per paragraph. If you feel the urge to use a semi-colon in a sentence, that sentence just might be too long.
  • Use top page photos only when they have an impact related to page content. Don't let them be a speed bump between the primary heading and the content that comes after it. And nowhere is it written in granite that every page must have a photo at the top.
  • If you have a few top points in the center-page content that you think or know will interest people, link direct from each one to more information about that point. Don't make people look for a navigation point somewhere else on the page.
  • When you link, make sure that language in the link connects to what people will see first on the next page so they know immediately they have arrived at the right place.
Task Oriented University Home Page

For a rare example of a university home page that puts priority on people immediately seeing links to important tasks visit the University of Sydney.


That's all for now.

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