Table of contents for Letting go of the words : writing Web content that works / Janice (Ginny) Redish.

Bibliographic record and links to related information available from the Library of Congress catalog.

Note: Contents data are machine generated based on pre-publication provided by the publisher. Contents may have variations from the printed book or be incomplete or contain other coding.


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{p. vi = blank; Contents, pp. vii-?}
Contents
1	Content! Content! Content!	1 
People come to web sites for the content	1
Web users skim and scan	2
Web users read, but . . . 	2
They don't read more because . . .	3
What makes writing for the web work well?	4
	Good web writing is like a conversation	4
	Good web writing answers people's questions	5
	Good web writing lets people "grab and go"	5
Introducing Letting Go of the Words	6
	It's about writing and design, not technology	6
	It's full of examples	7
	It's based in a user-centered design process	7
	You can start the process in several places	7
	You can jump around in the book	8
	You can join our web community	8
2	People! People! People!	11
We all interpret as we read	11
Successful writers focus on their audiences	12
Seven steps to understanding your audiences	12
1. List your major audiences	12
2. Gather information about your audiences	13
3. List major characteristics for each audience	14
	Key phrases or quotes	15
	Experience, expertise	15
	Emotions	16
	Values	17
	Technology	17
	Social and cultural environments	18
	Demographics	18
4. Gather your audiences' questions, tasks, and stories	19
5. Use your information to create personas	19
	What information goes into a persona?	20
	How do personas work with a web team?	22
6. Include the persona's goals and tasks	24
7. Use your information to write scenarios for your site	24
	Scenarios tell you the conversations people want to start	25
	Scenarios help you understand all types of users	26
	Everything on your web site should fulfill a scenario	27
	Scenarios can help you write good web content	27
3	Starting Well: Home Pages	29
Home pages / the 10-minute mini-tour	30
Identifying the site, establishing the brand	31
Setting the tone and personality of the site	31
Helping people get a sense of what the site is all about	35
	A useful home page makes it instantly clear what the site is about	36
	A useful home page is mostly links and short descriptions	37
Letting people start key tasks immediately	41
	Put forms people want right away on the home page	41
	Make sure the forms are high on the page	41
	Put Search near the top / where site visitors expect it	43
	Don't make people fill out forms they don't want	44
Sending each person on the right way, effectively and efficiently	44
	Use your site visitors' words	45
	Don't make people wonder which link to click on	45
Putting it all together: A case study	46
Building your site up from the content / not only down from the home page
50
4	Getting There: Pathway Pages	53
Most site visitors are on a hunt / a mission / and the pathway is just to get them 
there	54
People don't want to read a lot while hunting	54
A pathway page is like a table of contents	58
Sometimes, short descriptions help	59
Paragraphs / and marketing / are likely to be ignored on a pathway page	61
The smoothness of the path is more important than the number of clicks (within 
reason)	63
	Don't make people think	65
	Keep people from needing the Back button	65
Many people choose the first option that looks plausible	66
Many site visitors are landing inside your site	66
5	Writing Information, Not Documents	69
Breaking up large documents	69
	Think "topic," not "book"	70
	Break web content into topics and subtopics	73
Deciding how much to put on one web page	80
	How much do people want in one visit? How connected is the 
information?	81
	Am I overloading my site visitors? How long is the web page?	83
	What's the download time?	84
	Will people want to print? How much will they want to print?	84
PDF / yes or no?	85
	Should you rely on PDF files for your web content?	85
	When might a PDF file be appropriate?	86
	When is a PDF file not appropriate?	86
	When accessibility is an issue	89
	Three more reasons for not using PDFs	89
	In some cases, offer both versions	90
6	Focusing on Your Essential Messages	93
Six guidelines for focusing on your essential messages	94
1. Give people only what they need	94
2. Cut! Cut! Cut! And cut again!	98
3. Start with the key point. Write in inverted pyramid style	102
4. Break down walls of words	107
5. Market by giving useful information	110
	All sites sell / products or themselves	111
	The web is primarily a "pull" technology; marketing specializes in "push"
112
	Take advantage of "marketing moments" / market after the visitor is at 
least partially satisfied	112
6. Layer information to help web users	114
	Layering from a brief description to the full article	114
	Layering from a main article or item page to more information on other 
web pages	114
	Layering from part of the page to a short explanation	115
	Layering in innovative ways	118
7	Designing Your Web Pages for Easy Use	127
Fourteen guidelines for helpful design	128
1. Make the page elements obvious, using patterns and alignment	129
2. Consider the entire site when planning the design	131
	An e-commerce example	132
	An information site example	134
	Plan a consistent design across the web site	134
	Understand the process that moves from plan to launch	135
	Integrate content and design from the beginning	136
3. Work with templates	137
4. Use space effectively. Keep active space in your content	137
	Understand passive space and active space	138
	For your web content, focus on active space	139
5. Beware of false bottoms	140
6. Don't let headings float	141
7. Don't center text	143
8. Set a sans serif font as the default	144
	The old research on paper	145
	The new research on the web / no winner for reading speed or 
comprehension, but people prefer sans serif	145
	Choose an easy-to-read sans serif	146
9. Think broadly about users and their situations when setting type size	146
	Set the default large enough for your site visitors	147
	Adjust your content so that you can use large enough type and get your 
message into the space you have	148
	Let people choose their own text size	148
	Make all the text adjust, not just the main content area	149
10. Use a fluid layout with a medium line length as default	149
11. Don't write in all capitals	150
12. Don't underline anything but links. Use italics sparingly	151
13. Provide good contrast between text and background	152
	Keep the background clear so that the text is readable	152
	Keep the background light and the text dark	152
	Use light text on a dark background sparingly	154
14. Think about all your site visitors when you choose colors	155
	Think about the cultural meaning of colors	155
	Check your colors to avoid problems for color-blind users	156
Putting it all together: A case study	156
Interlude: The New Life of Press Releases	163
The old / and ongoing / life of a press release	163
What has changed?	163
How do people use press releases on the web?	164
	Story 1: Press release as summary	164
	Story 2: Press release as fact sheet	165
	Story 3: Press release as basic information	165
	Story 4: The press call up	165
What should we do?	166
Does it make a difference?	166
What would the difference look like?	168
8	Tuning Up Your Sentences	171
Ten guidelines for tuning up your sentences	172
1. Talk to your site visitors. Use "you."	172
	Be consistent; don't mix nouns and "you" when talking about the same 
person	173
	Use appropriate nouns to talk about others	173
	Use the imperative in instructions	175
	Use "you" rather than "he or she"	175
2. Show that you are a person and that your organization includes people	177
	If you are blogging, "I" is fine	177
	If you are writing your own articles, "I" is fine	178
	If you are writing for an organization, use "we"	178
	Sometimes, it's okay to talk about the organization by name	180
	For questions and answers, use "I" and "you" for the site visitor, "we" for 
the organization	180
3. Write in the active voice (most of the time)	181
4. Write simple, short, straightforward sentences	185
	Very short sentences are okay, too	185
	Fragments may also work	185
	Even in very serious writing, busy web users need sentences they can 
understand easily	185
5. Cut unnecessary words	187
6. Give extra information its own place	188
7. Keep paragraphs short	191
	On the web, a one-sentence paragraph is fine	191
	Lists and tables may be better than paragraphs	192
8. Start with the context / first things first, second things second	192
9. Put the action in the verbs, not the nouns	194
10. Use your web users' words	195
We all read the simple, short, common words faster	198
	Consider your broad web audience	198
Pulling it all together	199
9	Using Lists and Tables	205
Nine guidelines for writing useful web lists	205
Six guidelines for creating useful web tables	206
1. Use lists to make information easy to grab	206
2. Keep most lists short	207
	Short (5 / 10 items) is necessary for unfamiliar lists	208
	Long may be okay for very familiar lists	208
3. Format lists to make them work well	209
	Eliminate the space between the introduction and the list	210
	Put a space between long items	210
	Wrap lines under each other, not under the bullet	211
4. Match bullets to your site's personality	212
	Work with colleagues to establish the personality to use for bullets	214
	Don't make people wonder if the bullets have more meaning than they do
215
5. Use numbered lists for instructions	216
6. Turn paragraphs into steps	218
7. Give even complex instructions as steps	222
8. Keep the sentence structure in lists parallel	222
9. Don't number list items if they are not steps and people might confuse them 
with steps	224
Contrasting lists and tables	226
10. Use tables when you have numbers to compare	226
11. Use tables for a series of "if, then" sentences	227
12. Think about tables as answers to questions	228
13. Think carefully about what to put in the left column of a table	229
14. Keep tables simple	230
	Thinking about table width	230
	Thinking about table length	231
15. Format tables on the web so that people focus on the information and not on 
the lines	231
	Don't put thick lines between the columns or between the rows in a table
231
	Don't center text in a table	233
10	Breaking Up Your Text with Headings	235
Good headings help readers in many ways	235
Thinking about headings also helps writers	236
Don't just slap headings into old content	238
Twelve guidelines for writing useful headings	238
1. Start by outlining your content with headings	239
2. Ask questions as headings when people come with questions	240
	Make them the questions people come with	242
	Think conversation. Ask the question from the site visitor's point of view
245
	Keep the questions short	245
	Consider starting with a key word for fast access and accessibility	247
3. Give statement headings to convey key messages	247
4. Use action phrase headings for instructions	249
5. Use noun and noun phrase headings sparingly	250
6. Put your site visitors' words in the headings	255
7. Exploit the power of parallelism	255
8. Don't dive deep; keep to no more than two levels of headings (below the page 
title)	256
9. Make the heading levels obvious	257
10. Distinguish headings from text with type size and bold or color	257
11. Help people jump to the topic they need with same-page links	258
	Put same-page links right under the page title	258
	Don't put off-page links where people expect same-page links	258
	Don't put same-page links in the left navigation column	259
	Link headings as you move from paper to web	260
12. Evaluate! Read the headings to see what you have done	260
Interlude: Legal Information Can Be Understandable, Too	263
Make the information legible	263
Make sure your legal information prints well	264
Use site visitors' words in your headings	264
Avoid technical language	265
Avoid archaic legal language	266
Apply all the clear writing techniques to your legal information	268
11	Using illustrations effectively	273
Illustrations serve different purposes	273
	Picture of exact item	274
	Picture to illustrate concept or process	280
	Chart, graph, map	284
	Mood picture	287
Nine general guidelines for using illustrations effectively	290
1. Don't make people wonder what or why	290
2. Choose an appropriate size	291
	Make sure small pictures are clear	291
	Don't use so much space for pictures that critical content gets shoved 
down or aside	292
3. Use illustrations to support, not hide, content	292
4. Show diversity in pictures of people	294
	To represent your organization, show diversity, but be truthful	294
	To represent your site visitors, think broadly	295
	Test, test, test	295
5. Don't make content look like ads	296
6. Don't annoy people with blinking, rolling, waving, or wandering text or 
pictures	296
	Don't let text roll	297
	Don't change content while people are on the page	298
	Don't let animated animals, birds, butterflies, and so on, roam the page
299
	Weigh the trade-offs for animation carefully	299
7. Use animation where it helps / not just for show	299
8. Don't make people wait through splash or Flash	300
	Splash pages waste people's time	301
	You wear out your welcome by welcoming people too much	302
	People want to control their online experiences	302
	Videos at the beginning are roadblocks for some people	302
9. Make illustrations accessible	304
	Make the alt text meaningful	304
	For purely decorative graphics, use empty alt text	305
12	Writing Meaningful Links	307
Twelve guidelines for writing meaningful links	308
1. Don't make new program and product names into links by themselves	308
2. Rethink document titles and headings that turn into links	310
3. Think ahead. Match links and page titles	312
4. Be as explicit as you can in the space you have / and make more space if you 
need it	314
5. Use action phrases for action links	315
6. Use single nouns sparingly; longer, more descriptive links often work better
316
7. Add a short description if people need it / or rewrite the link	317
8. Make the link meaningful / not Click here, not just More	318
	Click here is never necessary	318
	More isn't enough	320
9. Coordinate when you have multiple, similar links	322
10. Don't embed links if you want people to stay with your information	323
	If people are just browsing, embedding may be okay	323
	But if you don't want people to wander off in the middle, put links at the 
end, below, or next to your main text	324
11. If you use bullets with links, make them active, too	326
12. Make both unvisited and visited links obvious	326
	Use your unvisited link color only for links	326
	Show visited links by changing the color	327
13	Getting from Draft to Final Web Pages	329
Think of writing as revising drafts	330
Review and edit your own work	330
	Read what you wrote	330
	Check your links	331
	Check your facts	331
	Put your web draft away; don't post it yet	332
	Read it out loud	333
	Use dictionaries, handbooks, and a style guide	333
	Run the spell checker but don't rely on it	334
Ask colleagues and others to read and comment	335
	Ask a few people what your key message is	335
	Have someone else read it out loud to you	335
	Share partial drafts	336
	Get feedback online	336
	Pay attention to the feedback	337
	Work with colleagues to get a uniform style and tone	337
Put your ego in the drawer / cheerfully	337
Work with a writing specialist or editor	338
	Have someone focus on the big picture with you	338
	Have someone copy edit for you	339
Make reviews work for you and your web site visitors	339
	Setting up good reviews	340
	Getting useful information from reviewers	341
	Making good use of reviews	342
Interlude: Creating an Organic Style Guide	345
Use a style guide to keep the site consistent	345
Don't reinvent	347
Appoint an owner	348
Make it easy to create, to find, and to use	348

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Web site development.
Web sites -- Design.