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Writing for the Wired World Part 1: Theoretical Review of Why to Write Differently Online Julie Poroznuk, ABC, CEBS JP Communication HR Solutions for Employee.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing for the Wired World Part 1: Theoretical Review of Why to Write Differently Online Julie Poroznuk, ABC, CEBS JP Communication HR Solutions for Employee."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing for the Wired World Part 1: Theoretical Review of Why to Write Differently Online Julie Poroznuk, ABC, CEBS JP Communication HR Solutions for Employee Engagement Calgary, Alberta

2 Characteristics of the Online World 4 linear vs. non-linear 4 three-dimensional vs. non-three dimensional 4 non-Interactive vs. interactive 4 single medium vs. multimedia

3 Characteristics of the Online World 4 writing differently for interactivity 4 multimedia - audio, video, animation, 3D 4 marriage of multimedia and interactivity

4 The Physiological Effects of Reading Light 4 reduced blink rate 4 scrolling-induced nausea 4 lack of control over text size

5 People Don’t Read Online Make your material easy to scan to that it is easy for the reader to extract the information. A Startling Conclusion

6 Roles of the Online Writer 4 The Words 4 The Context 4 The Design 4 The Audience 4 Related Information 4 Multimedia and Interactivity 4 Navigation

7 Roles of the Online Writer The Words: 4 Good writing is essential, no matter what the medium.

8 Roles of the Online Writer The context: 4 write from the perspective of the reader 4 online has no beginning, middle, or end 4 storyboarding helps make each page stand on its own 4 ensure each page has its own context

9 Roles of the Online Writer The design: 4 serves to help the reader establish the context 4 provides navigation 4 doubles as hyperlinks to related material 4 replaces text as a means of displaying information

10 Roles of the Online Writer The audience: 4 you can craft paths that different audiences will follow

11 Roles of the Online Writer Related information: 4 print exists in a vacuum 4 online, information is only a few clicks away 4 know what information is available to (1) avoid duplicating what is already there and (2) position your words to accommodate the existing information

12 Roles of the Online Writer Multimedia and interactivity 4 if the most effective means of communicating means using a database or audio clip, you need to know that before you decide what to write

13 Roles of the Online Writer Navigation 4 links that readers follow determine the path that will or will not satisfy their information needs 4 without the right navigation tools, a reader can get lost, confused, frustrated 4 navigation is used to assist the reader

14 Implications of New Communication Models 4 from one- or few-to-many to many-to-many 4 from sender-driven to receiver-driven 4 from media-driven to access-driven 4 from demographically-driven to a “market sample of one”

15 Many-to-Many Communication 4 think beyond the page 4 writing is an ongoing response to feedback 4 incorporate links

16 Receiver-driven 4 writing must be non-linear 4 write in chunks 4 use hyperlinks; plan them as part of the process 4 know when not to use online tools (when push communication is needed)

17 Access-driven communication 4 be sure the medium is available 4 understand your audience 4 prepare text for multi-media 4 determine the primary vehicle and adapt for others

18 Market Sample of One 4 find your audience 4 help them know they are in the right place

19 Knowledge vs. Information 4 know what not to write for the online medium 4 information is online, knowledge is print 4 exceptions 4 integration of media 4 knowledge online

20 Give People What They Need 4 Navigation and Customization: search engines, eyes, recommendations 4 Dominant messages

21 Cyberspace 4 is not linear 4 is not three-dimensional 4 is interactive 4 integrates multimedia 4 has produced a many-to-many, everyone’s a publisher environment

22 Cyberspace 4 lets people demand what they want when they want it 4 requires information providers to consider the media audiences are using 4 is best targeted at individuals instead of demographic audiences 4 leads most people to scan instead of read

23 Cyberspace 4 spawns impatience among readers 4 is integrated into other media 4 requires that authors provide direction while giving readers control

24 You have to think differently about the content you are going to produce before you even sit down to write. Next: how to apply the tactics of writing for the wired world.

25 Writing for the Wired World Part II: Tactics for Writing for the Wired World

26 General Guidelines Length: 4 Online text should be at least 50% shorter. 4 Maximum of three screens of full text. Style - determine your goal: 4 Scanning style 4 Reading style

27 Scanning Style 4 Use lists 4 Keep sentences short 4 Limit use of text-based emphasis 4 Limit italics: they are harder to read 4 Use bold specifically to draw emphasis 4 Short sub headings

28 Scanning Style 4 Single bold-faced words introducing paragraphs or sentences: 4 Limit the use of hyperlinks in narrative 4 Edit twice - the second time for unnecessary words

29 Reading Style How do you get the reader to stop scanning and start reading word by word? 4 must be worth reading 4 style needs to compel attention 4 write more like you talk 4 inject yourself and your voice into what you write for the screen

30 Reading Style Degrees to which your voice can play a part in your writing: 4 Adopting persona (see - Mama’s Cucina) 4 First-person 4 Injecting attitude 4 Writing like you talk 4 Most appropriate for feature writing

31 Navigation 4 Incorporate as a component of the writing, not an afterthought or element left to the designer 4 Helps find important elements and bypass those of no interest (e.g. headings at the top are links to sections below)

32 Navigation Include: 4 link to the beginning of the section 4 link to the home page or highest level 4 indexes, table of contents, search engines - should be accessible from any page 4 linear elements to make it easy to move forward and backward 4 readers should never get lost

33 Structuring Your Document Preparing a map - think about the users: 4 what paths will they follow to key info 4 will those paths be intuitive or frustrating 4 will each step make sense and lead naturally to a next step 4 let the readers create paths to the information you want to impart

34 Structuring Your Document 4 Determine your audiences 4 Provide different paths for each audience 4 Determine which paths are unique to each audience and which will be shared in common with all readers 4 Plan the main links from the home page and then map the various elements to each element and the intersections between them

35 The Written Word: Length 4 Maximum of 4 screens of text per page 4 Limit each chunk (page) to a single concept 4 Each chunk should be however long it takes to deliver that concept 4 If it is more than 4 screens, consider breaking it down further 4 Print text in vertical columns

36 Reusable Chunks 4 Hyperlinks 4 JavaScript uses a database to create text on the fly 4 Avoid the need for any single block of text to be used more than once on the system

37 Write About Your Subject References to the medium interfere with key messages. This happens in three ways: 1. Writing about web actions “Click here” – we may presume that our readers know that a hyperlink is to be clicked on, and that doing so will take them to related material.

38 Example: Technical support costs will be increasing, according to Walter Smith, vice president of customer relations. Click here to learn more about the increases. Technical support costs will be increasing, according to Walter Smith, vice president of customer relations.

39 Example: Click here to visit our new car loan calculator. Visit our new car loan calculator.

40 Write About Your Subject 2. Writing about the web “Here on your Web site, we provide internet access to...” Imagine “Here in this 12-page 8x10 publication, printed on glossy...”

41 Write About Your Subject Avoid references to files, servers, directories, subdirectories, the Web, the Internet, the intranet. Example: 4 We have provided a link to new-hire orientation material from the company’s home page. 4 New-hire orientation material is available.

42 Write About Your Subject 4 New-hire orientation material includes salary and benefits information, company back-ground, and a new-hire discussion group. 4 New-hire orientation material includes:  salary and benefits information  company back-ground  a new-hire discussion group.

43 Write About Your Subject Don’t write about your writing. 4 “Following is a list of items …” 4 “Items you will need include …” The fewer words you add to a page that have nothing to do with the key message, the more likely the reader’s eyes will land on a key message. Key Information First

44 The Second Edit Read the document out loud and listen for: 1. Hyperlinks: 4 Do they draw attention to the words you want? 4 Do they distract from the key message? 4 Once per screen per hyperlink is plenty.

45 The Second Edit 2. The Document itself: 4 Does the page deliver on the promise made on the page from which it is linked? 4 Does the information flow smoothly from one page to the next? 4 Users should find the info they expect along a path that is intuitive to follow. 3. Edit the text twice - eliminate extraneous words.

46 Write for Print, Too If desirable, allow users to print a text only version of the document.

47 Document Elements Title: Appears in the bar at the very top of any Windows program – you can specify the name of your document in the HTML The title is important for two reasons: 4 This is what the search engine displays 4 This is what the bookmark reference displays

48 Document Elements Headlines: 4 Keep the headlines short; don’t use all caps 4 Leave your context and creative writing for subheads, which are easier to read. Other elements: 4 Search engines, indexes, table of contents, site maps

49 Hyperlinks Links to a New Page: 4 Use images as links instead of text: make the entire image a hyperlink; create an “image map” on a part of the image. 4 Separate your links from the body of the copy; make sure you use only relevant links. 4 Create pages of links, if appropriate.

50 Internal Links Common uses for internal links: 4 Linking to a new thread of narrative 4 Footnotes 4 Internal anchors: list of information found further down the page, links back to top

51 Links “Jinx Links” – hang by themselves without any context or clue as to what you’ll find once you click on it. Linking to Context 4 All links (internal and external) should be clear and explicit. 4 Previous, Back, Next, Forward may not be in context.

52 Feedback You can use feedback effectively to accomplish the following objectives: 4 Involve your audience (discussion groups, invite contributions, etc) 4 Instant analysis: “I understand and support the....” or “This still confuses me, and I cannot support it.”

53 Feedback Mini-Surveys 4 Short, regular, immediate gratification. 4 May lead to development of interesting data and ideas for feature articles. Soliciting Input for Revisions and Corrections 4 Making corrections is fast and free. 4 Provide a unique link that invites corrections and suggested revisions.

54 Feedback Methods 4 a separate button or link “submit feedback” 4 a “mailto” hyperlink 4 an online form 4 simple surveys 4 complex surveys (require some programming)

55 Feedback Issues 4 Responding to input – if someone sends something to you, he will expect a reply. 4 You can set up an “auto-responder”. 4 Problem queries – bad stuff: bomb and death threats, protests, unhappy customers. Establish a process for dealing with them. (This goes to legal, this goes to trash, etc.) 4 Use feedback to help you identify tends, issues, etc.

56 Integrating Design and Writing Graphics of an online document should: 4 help the reader identify key info by making it stand out, reinforce key points, or represent the key info without the need for associated text. 4 provide navigation through the document by serving as links 4 be utilitarian

57 Planning Graphics The online design process is not a linear one. As you plan the chunks of information, how they will interconnect, what pathways readers may be able to discern among the hyperlinks, think about the part the design will play in these considerations. Plan your design before you write so you’ll know what to write (and what to leave to the design), and how to cast those words in tandem with the design.

58 Content Transfer 4 HTML 4 Dreamweaver 4 Word Processor - saved as HTML 4 Storyboards, wireframes

59 Some Final Thoughts 4 Test your document 4 Proofread on screen and on paper 4 View in multiple browsers 4 Validate your document - test for errors in HTML 4 Solicit input 4 Don’t use “Under Construction” signs

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