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Writing for the Web

Lunch and Learn—May 3, 2013

Danny Messinger

on 3 May 2013

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Transcript of Writing for the Web

Karina Jousma
Danny Messinger Writing for the Web A Project's Lifecycle
Kickoff meeting
Content meeting
Homepage meeting
Content migration
Writing/editing ongoing
Negotiating text changes
with clients
Alpha and Beta launches
Future content optimization
(maintenance) The Web Project Process What is the tone of the Michigan Tech website?

How is writing for the web different from writing for news or publications? What are the similarities?

What do some of our established web pages look like, and what are some common content elements? Our Web Presence Using white space effectively


The importance of grabbing attention—immediately!

A journalist's best friend: the inverted pyramid

Using humor Some Design Guidelines
for Web Text What the heck is SEO?
Why SEO is worth the extra effort
Best practices: what can boost or maintain our rankings?
Worst Practices: what can get us into trouble?
Use of links and wording of link text
Ultimately, write for the reader, not for search engines Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
A Crash Course Web content=conversation with web users
Begun by your audience
Push vs. pull marketing
Focus more on the conversation—don't lecture the reader
Your audience's purpose is paramount—what are they trying to accomplish in their website visit?
What is the University striving to accomplish? The Web Conversation Time to put all that new web-writing expertise of yours to work . . . Yikes! A web-writing emergency! Lunch & Learn
05.03.2013 Importance of "active space"
(5–6 lines per ¶ generally)
Use lots of headings
Avoid floating headings—too much white space
When appropriate, present info as bulleted lists, tables Using White Space
in Web Text Use italics sparingly
Underline links only
NO YELLING!!! Typography Considerations
for Web Writing (in a nutshell) Practice makes perfect!
Keywording exercise Remember the basics...
what irks you online? What is the tone of the Tech website? Conversational
Friendly (but credible)
Concise Target web audiences/our purposes for each
Task oriented: concise, readable text
Readers scan web pages for the info they seek
Should facilitate a conversation between audience and the University Home Page http://www.mtu.edu/cls/ Cognitive and Learning Sciences http://www.mtu.edu/forest/ School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science Undergraduate Degree Programs http://www.mtu.edu/kip/undergraduate/exercise-science/ Differences between print and web writing Reading Patterns on the Web Appropriate Use of Humor Graduate Degree Programs Admissions content in right-hand sidebar borrowed from Graduate School site Report degree option content in slider borrowed from Graduate School site http://www.mtu.edu/cls/education/graduate/earth-systems/ Overview/Pathway/Landing Page "C" Clamp Media zone:
3-7 themed slides Left-hand navigation bar: 3 levels Widgets Brief description of the department Landing page @
2nd level of navigation Bulleted list: important tool Note bulleted list (I know, dead horse) Tables http://www.mtu.edu/cls/applied/overview/ Easy to find
desired information
by only scanning content Helpful Resources SEOMoz—"The Beginner's Guide to SEO" (PDF, to be emailed to all attendees)
Google Keyword Tool
Webmaster's Blog: http://blogs.mtu.edu/webmaster/
"Letting Go of the Words" What question is the visitor asking, what content are they seeking, or what task do they hope to accomplish?
Are they looking for a bite, snack, or meal?
End goal: give your site visitors a positive experience
Make them want to come back. Define the Conversation Content should be
easy to find
accurate and up-to-date
easy to understand
Speak to your audience, and use language they understand.
Anticipate your audiences' needs, questions, etc. and write accordingly. Respond to Your Audience Bite
Headline, link, and brief description
Key messages and/or brief summary
The deets
The option to grab and go ("fast food"), e.g., an overview/pathway page Give 'em What They Need "Bite, Snack, Meal" analogy source: Leslie O'Flahavan
www.ewriteonline.com Use second person pronoun "you" and active verbs
Avoid jargon
Avoid edu-speak (exception may be grad degree/research pages)
The web voice should be consistent (think choir)
"Put your ego in the drawer, cheerfully." -Ginny Redish, "Letting Go of the Words" Speak Directly and Clearly to Your Audience Numbered lists: useful for instructions Serves as a "funnel" for different audiences http://www.mtu.edu/geo/graduate/global-study/ ...Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice. H1 H2 H2 H2 H2 H2 H3 H3 H3 H4 Write for the "three-second rule"
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