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Writing for web in an effective way

Updated on August 9, 2016

St John Kaneo church

St John Kaneo church, Ohrid, Macedonia
St John Kaneo church, Ohrid, Macedonia | Source

Pitbull - Rain Over Me ft. Marc Anthony

Introduction

Talking to stakeholders within the business will give you some suggestions of keywords to include but is not the most reliable way. Using your personas, talking to users and using your analytic are more reliable. Headings allow us to scan a page a little bit more easily and it gives the user an idea of the content that is in the page. By including bullet points in our content it improves the scanability of our page. We never want to link a full sentence. It doesn’t give the user the call to action that they need. Images, videos, audios and maps are good to include in the content but we should make sure they are supporting the content; not being there for the sake of it. In forms there is no need to have a paragraph of text. We want to focus the user’s attention on the fields and the call to action. When we write an error message we want it to be personal and friendly. We don’t want to tell the user off. We also want to include what we want the user to do next. We need to look at our analytic to identify those keywords to be used in our content. Before we publish our content in a website we need to check it in word for typos and reading levels. We need to get someone else to check it as well.

General view of the salineras (salt evaporation ponds) in Maras, Peru.

The salt is obtained in Maras since the Inca Empire times and the site is currently composed of around 3.000 ponds of 5 square metres (54 sq ft) each.
The salt is obtained in Maras since the Inca Empire times and the site is currently composed of around 3.000 ponds of 5 square metres (54 sq ft) each. | Source

Ultimate20 TidalWaveDM2

The importance of Keywords

Why are keywords important? Keywords help the users scan the page. Users have something in mind that they are looking for and if we can identify those keywords that they are looking for, it will grab on to the content and they will be able to read it more effectively; and they will be interested in it. It is also good for search engine optimization. Search engines love keywords because these are the words that the user will type into it. So we need to match that same experience.

How do we find out what these keywords are? The personas give us the keywords. If our personas are not giving use those words that we need, we need to do more user research. Talk to people and listen to the words they use. These are the words they are going to type into the search engine. Look at your web analytic. Seeing the actual words people are putting into the search engine and those people are actually coming to our content. This can be used to tweak our content. Look at your competitors’ content to find the words people are putting into the search engine that they want to come into our content but the keywords they are putting in don’t match ours; i.e the keywords we don’t know. We should put the keywords in the heading, link, subheading, and the content body. Users and the search engines look for these keywords.

Waterfall Dynjandi, Vestfirðir, Iceland

Waterfall Dynjandi, Vestfirðir, Iceland
Waterfall Dynjandi, Vestfirðir, Iceland | Source

Appropriate heading

Headings are useful for: giving the user an idea of the content to the page, making a page easier to scan, and breaking up a large page into chunks. Headings should be short, concise (a few words), simple, no complex words and factual so they tell exactly what the content is all about. Use sentence case, i.e, the first word in the sentence should be in caps. No acronyms. Don’t use full sentences; i.e no full stops.

Difference between page heading and page title: Page title is seen in the browser bar. Include keywords so the search engine can read it. The user does not see it on the page but they see it in the search engine results page. Page heading; this appears on the head of the page. The heading should be bold and we should tell the user what they are going to find in the content.

Öxarárfoss, Þingvellir National Park, Suðurland, Iceland

The 20 meter high waterfall flows from the Öxará river and is one of the most visited attractions in Þingvellir National Park
The 20 meter high waterfall flows from the Öxará river and is one of the most visited attractions in Þingvellir National Park | Source

Lists facilitate in scanning a page

Lists assist is scanability of the page and allows the reader to read content nice and quickly. Why does it improve scanability? We have white space and it draws the eye to this list. It allows us to scan quickly pieces of content and absorb it quickly. Types of lists: Normal bulletined lists, numbered or alphabet lists. Make sure the list is simple and includes keywords. Make it one lined. We don’t need a full stop because it is not a full sentence. Use lower case. Lists should be of a set of ideas; i.e they should be related and not disjointed. Though lists are useful do not overuse them.

Saint Nicholas Monastery (Mukacheve) (1772-1806

 complex of architecture monuments of national significance №171): St. Nicholas Church and cells. Transcarpathian region
complex of architecture monuments of national significance №171): St. Nicholas Church and cells. Transcarpathian region | Source

Links takes users to another location

Links take people to different pages or to different websites and it enhances interest to our content. What not to do with links: Don’t include words like click here, or here. It is not telling the user where they are going. It’s not enticing them. Use those keywords you identified before in your links. Don’t write a url address. Don’t tell the user where they are going. Don’t show an email address or link too many words. If there is another link right next to the first link users get confused which one to click onto.

Good links: Use keywords. Don’t be vague. If you want users to download something from the web include what they will be downloading. How big it is (megabytes) and type of document. Links are a different color and style than rest of content. Use specific words that the users will be attracted to. There is no underlining in links. Don’t underline words in the content that are not links because people will try to click onto them. Don’t use too many links. Links should be long enough to enable easy clicking.

Buldern Castle

Buldern Castle (in Buldern, Dülmen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany); View from North East during sunrise
Buldern Castle (in Buldern, Dülmen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany); View from North East during sunrise | Source

LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem ft. Lauren Bennett, GoonRock

Visual and audio enhance content

Visual and audio enhances the content and doesn’t distract. It makes it more interesting and useful to the user. Include images on a page but there should be some content to break up images to make it more relevant to the user. Diagrams could be useful depending on the content. Instead of just explaining what, like an inverted pyramid is it enhances it and makes us remember more and explains it more easily as well. Maps are useful. There is certain content that matches with maps more. It gives the rich information that we need. Charts also represent information. Users’ eyes are often drawn to the chart. Information can be presented in a table. A table has a header and some subheadings on the left with the content in the middle. Info graphics; information represented in a graphical way. It uses graphics and some content. The content is displayed in an interesting way. Videos are a fantastic way to communicate something. The problem is that, users might not be in an environment where they can play the video. Users interested with the video will usually save it and watch later. Captioning and transcripts to enhance the videos is essential so people with hearing impairment can understand what is going on.

A wide evening view to Måbødalen

A wide evening view to Måbødalen in Eidfjord municipality, Hordaland, Norway in 2011 August. The view has been captured from the eastern end of the valley.
A wide evening view to Måbødalen in Eidfjord municipality, Hordaland, Norway in 2011 August. The view has been captured from the eastern end of the valley. | Source

Best way to create forms

How to write content for form? If you are asking users to fill in information use a form. It should be nice, short, and affirmative. We have a heading, paragraph text (but this is not very necessary; it can be done away with), labels and form fields. Drop-downs and radial buttons. Most importantly for a form, we have a call to action, e.g send or sign up. The user here should do something with it. There can be some links within the form. This could lead to the privacy policy information and its call to action i.e accepted. When creating a form think of the form fields and what you want to get from the user. Think if it is absolutely necessary to ask them. Ask for less information because this is what the user prefers.

Lake Väimela Alajärv

 Lake Väimela Alajärv, in Võru County, Estonia
Lake Väimela Alajärv, in Võru County, Estonia | Source

Messages thrown are friendly, personal and affirmative

There are messages that potentially forms will throw if the user enters some information in a form either correctly or incorrectly. Success message; tells you that you have been successful. It is friendly and affirmative. You don’t have to change your behavior. You did what you needed to do. Information message; informs the user but may not prevent them from doing a task. It is not going to change their behavior immediately, maybe only in due course. Warning message; it’s a little bit more severe than information. It is giving you that urgency. Something might happen so you have to take action. Error message; it’s quite easy to read. It gives you the information needed and it is basically telling the user that they can’t proceed unless they fix something. Maybe they have entered the wrong email address and or password. Think about the placement of your messages when you write them. This is mainly so they are visible to the user. The tone of voice; the developers should not write the messages rather you should specify what those messages should be. The message should match your tone of voice and this, the web developers might not be familiar with. It’s only you that know the tone of voice you prefer.

Rock face in Ruby Beach with hot springs

Rock face in Ruby Beach with hot springs in the Olympic National Park, Washington State, USA.
Rock face in Ruby Beach with hot springs in the Olympic National Park, Washington State, USA. | Source

Rules and procedures in creating web content

There are steps you follow when creating a structure for your page. Page topic; there should be one topic per page. Define the topic you will write on in advance. Define the page purpose. Is it to engage, inform or to entertain? You need think about the content and your users and try to come up with the purpose of the content. Next you need to come up with keywords to use for this particular page. You are going to be using the keywords in multiple locations. There is something you want the user to do after consuming the content. Define exactly what that is. Usually it will be to make them go to another website or to go to a page within the website. Come up with a heading before writing the content. Afterwards come back to it and see if you can tweak it. List the content you are going to include. This will be listed in way of bullet points highlighting the pieces of content that you want to get across to the users. Potentially you are going to use images, videos and audios to supplement and enhance your content. Think of what you are going to include therein.

Niagara Falls

 Prospect point night view of the Niagara Falls, in winter
Prospect point night view of the Niagara Falls, in winter | Source

MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS - THRIFT SHOP FEAT. WANZ (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Reviewing and editing your content

After writing the content you need to review and edit it at least twice. Maybe hand it over to someone else to review it for you. Review for typos, and grammatical errors. Check it for accuracy. Ask a subject matter expert on this or make sure the research is completely correct to avoid inaccuracy. The content must match your tone of voice: The tone that represents your brand. Use word document for spell check-up and also enabling editing by your reviewers. Word has a way of showing readability statistics for reading ease and grade level among others. The gunning fox index will also help you in gauging the grade level of your content. Beware of the level you are writing for so that you have the right conversation with your users. It is also good to read the content aloud to yourself to gauge whether it is of the level of your envisaged users.

360 degrees Fog bow

360 degrees Fog bow
360 degrees Fog bow | Source

Validating users’ understanding of content

We need to validate if the users understand what we’ve written. This can be done by visiting a public place like a café. Sitting with your laptop, you invite people to do some tasks on your content. The more people you ask and the more opinions you get, the richer your content will be. Validation can also be done in a custom built room made for a user and a facilitator. We will have specific user recruitment criteria and we recruit users for a certain amount of time and reward them after for their effort. This can be streamed to stakeholders sitting in a holding room. Usability testing is good because it allows us to validate what the user is going to say to us. You really don’t know if the content you’ve written is appropriate to the user. So get users in and see what their impressions are and see if they understand the content you’ve written.

Panorama between Sax and Frümsen

Panorama between Sax and Frümsen in the municipality of Sennwald in the Rhine Valley, looking from Kreuzberge (on the left), to the Appenzell Alps, Saxer Gap, the Stauberen, and Hoher Kasten on the right
Panorama between Sax and Frümsen in the municipality of Sennwald in the Rhine Valley, looking from Kreuzberge (on the left), to the Appenzell Alps, Saxer Gap, the Stauberen, and Hoher Kasten on the right | Source

Users and stakeholders

Is the difference clearly brought out between user and stakeholder?

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