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CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Writing for the Web: Tips, Tricks and Tools Jen Seipp, Communications Advisor.

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Presentation on theme: "CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Writing for the Web: Tips, Tricks and Tools Jen Seipp, Communications Advisor."— Presentation transcript:

1 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Writing for the Web: Tips, Tricks and Tools Jen Seipp, Communications Advisor 6 March 2012

2 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES 2 The Plan Lets chat about… Why good web writing matters The complicated matter of plain language Tips and tricks to improve your web writing Tools and resources you can use

3 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Why good web writing matters Your website is how your present your organization to the world. Thousands of families who never walk into your MFRC visit your site for information, advice, tools, and more. Its not just a communications tool…its a big part of how you provide services to the CF community. Its a snapshot of who you are, what you do, and most importantly to your users, how you can help them.

4 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES The writing no one reads A 1997 study by web guru Jacob Nielsen (published on www.useit.com) puts it simply:www.useit.com Users dont read web content, they scan. Average words on a page read: just 16%. As the number of words on a page goes up, the percentage read goes down. To get people to read half your words, you have to limit your page to 110 words or fewer.

5 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES What does this mean for writers? Short really is sweet Average user stays on a page for just 5 seconds. Make their visit count! Users dont come to your site just to read…they come to do something Finding out why users visit your FamilyForce site help you cater your content to help them quickly and effectively Remember, users may be stressed out, impatient, or uncertain…try to make it easier for them

6 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Plain Language Plain language helps you create a conversation with your users. Thanks to the clear, concise language on your website, your users can: Find the services and information they need Understand the content thats presented Navigate from your content to other related, helpful pages, sites and documents Use your content to meet their needs

7 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Plain Language Common misconceptions: Plain language is speaking down to your users Complicated topics need complicated words Plain language seems unprofessional Military speak is too hard to be decoded into plain language…its OK, my users are used to it!

8 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Plain Language is… Direct Concise Friendly yet professional User focused (the family perspective) Short…words, sentences, paragraphs, pages

9 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Plain language means... Writing to meet the needs of the families you serve Choose everyday words: write simply and clearly Use the active voice Include headings and subheadings Dont be afraid to use pronouns Use bulleted lists and tables to break up content Include helpful links to ease navigation Break up the content into short pieces Limit abbreviations and acronyms

10 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Everyday Words Simple Words: Family services edition Instead of…Try… This service is intended to enable families... Favoriser le développement optimal des enfants et des jeunes We have developed a comprehensive range of activities and initiatives Les composantes des services autorisés sont…

11 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Active vs. Passive Voice Active voice: take agency! Instead of…Try… Mandated service components offered by C/MFRCs include Le début des années 1990 sest vu ponctué par un accroissement de support pour les familles des militaires Canadiens Two new services for military families were recently launched by Director Military Family Services Le Modèle national des services à la jeunesse a été créé pour prendre appui sur ces forces

12 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Headings and Subheadings Why use headings and subheadings? Headings and subheadings help your users scan your content and locate what theyre looking for quickly and easily. How do they work? By breaking up your content into digestible nuggets, they help busy users as they scroll quickly from topic to topic without really reading. They also force you to break your content up into smaller pieces.

13 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Pronouns...Be Yourself! Pronouns: Use I, we, and you to make your content approachable Instead of… The MFSP aims to help the families of CF members manage the unique stresses associated with military life. Try… Were here to help your family manage the unique stresses of military life.

14 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Pronouns...Be Yourself! Instead of... The role of the PSI Coordinator is to provide military families with prevention, intervention and referral assistance. Try... I offer preventive courses, provide intervention options during difficult times, and can refer you to other helpful services. Instead of... This service provides resources and supports that meet the families needs during a separation. Try... To help your family during deployments, we provide a variety of resources and tailored support.

15 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Bullets and Tables Bullets and tables add structure to your content Bullets help organize lists (links, services, etc) Tables help organize multiple, related pieces of data neatly and clearly A few good examples: http://www.familyforce.ca/sites/Gagetown/EN/Volunteering/Pages/Why Volunteer.aspx http://www.familyforce.ca/sites/Petawawa/EN/DeploymentDeparturesR eunions/Pages/MoraleMail.aspx

16 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Links Links help your users navigate your website, and find other tools that can help them. Make sure your links are: Active Helpful Reliable Carefully chosen

17 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Links Links and plain language Make your link text as clear as possible Organize your links well. Try using bullets, subheadings, tables, or breaking up pages by topic if your page requires too much scrolling. Review your content regularly and think about links that might add value for your users. A good example: http://www.familyforce.ca/sites/Colorado%20Springs/EN/About%20the%20 Community/Pages/Denver.aspx http://www.familyforce.ca/sites/Colorado%20Springs/EN/About%20the%20 Community/Pages/Denver.aspx

18 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Breaking up your content Break up your content into short paragraphs Separate ideas need paragraphs (2-3 sentences) Sentences should be short too (15 words max) Words should be short and clear Break up your content into pages Too much scrolling bogs down your busy user Try breaking up your pages if you find your content is too long Use links and lists

19 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Abbreviations and Acronyms Nothing will drive your users crazier than… Bureaucratic and military language Too much jargon Abbreviations Try explaining what you do to the person beside you using no acronyms and no program-specific language. Be clear and concise!

20 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Acronyms and Abbreviations Abbreviations and acronyms are the number one complaint users have about government documents (websites included). Lots of abbreviations turns your website into a research project for users. Examples: DMFS, a part of the PSP section of CFPFSS, is responsible for the management of the MFSP on behalf of DND and the CF. La DSFM est engagée à financer les CRFM/C afin quils assurent la prestation des services autorisés du PSFM aux familles et aux communautés locales des FC.

21 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES

22 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES

23 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Acronyms and Abbreviations A few guidelines Include no more than 2-3 acronyms per page Spell it out, then use a nickname after one mention, as below: Instead of...Try... PSFMle Programme Family Separation and Reunion (FSR) Services Deployment support CNFMle Conseil CFMAPProgram or Assistance program

24 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Words to write by The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. Thomas Jefferson Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci "Easy reading is damned hard writing." Nathaniel Hawthorne

25 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Tools and Resources Language Portal of Canada Portail linguistique du Canada www.noslangues-ourlanguages.gc.ca US Governments Plain Language Action and Information Network www.plainlanguage.gov Web writing expert Ginny Redishs website www.redish.net/ Communications Policy of the Government of Canada Politique de communication du gouvernement du Canada www.tbs-sct.gc.ca

26 CANADIAN FORCES NON-PUBLIC PROPERTY BIENS NON PUBLICS DES FORCES CANADIENNES Questions or Comments Thanks for your attention. Happy writing! Merci!


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