The most important element of any web page is the content. Let’s face it: content is king. You can have the best designed site in the world, but if you have nothing worth reading or listening to, nobody is going to care. Worse, if you do have something worth saying, but nobody understands it, it’s all going to waste.
Watch what you say
We don’t want to give you a grammar lesson, but we do want to emphasize corect speling and proper grammar. If you’re readres can’t undrstand what your saying, their not going to waist they’re time on your site. Its probably a good idea too brush up in your English skills every so often.
Having said all that, here’s a pop quiz: the last paragraph is riddled with errors – how many can you spot? Stay concise We admit, our writers sometimes have a tendency to get a bit wordy. That’s why, after writing something, we always ask ourselves if we can say the same thing in half as many words. The heading really says it all though, so as Forrest Gump says, “that’s all I have to say about that.”
Unless you’re writing a technical report, there’s probably no need to include technical jargon in your writing. Here’s a tip: if you don’t use the word in your regular conversations, it probably doesn’t belong in your writing.
Give them bite size chunks
We try to keep our paragraphs down to five sentences or less, but we don’t really count the number periods we tack on. Instead we try to limit our paragraphs to one thought each.
For this paragraph, for example, the main point is to keep paragraphs short. Since we want to emphasize the idea of having one thought per paragraph, we’re dedicating a separate paragraph for it.
The idea is to allow readers to skim through your page and still allow them to pick up the gist of what you’re trying to say. Splitting different thoughts into different paragraphs does just that.
Use your head(ings)
This ties in with the previous point in that it also allows readers to skim through your content and pick up important points. Using headings allow you to clearly define different ideas and organize your content. Using heading tags (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) lets you hit two birds with one stone. It not only organizes your content for your readers, it gives you the added benefit of optimizing for search engines.
Don’t get too bold
Highlighting everything highlights nothing. The point of highlighting something, whether by italicizing it, making it bold, changing its color, or anything else, is to make it stand out from the rest of the page. If you highlight too many things, they all just start blending into each other, and none of them stand out anymore.
Talk with me
We stated in one of the points above “if you don’t use the word in your regular conversations, it probably doesn’t belong in your writing.” We try to apply this idea, not just to the words we choose, but to the general tone of our writing. We don’t want to lecture you or preach to you – we want to have a conversation with you.
Yes, there are some cases where a conversational tone doesn’t really fit with the content. For the most part, however, a conversational tone is what engages your readers. Speaking (or writing) using your own voice tells your readers that there is a real person behind the words on the screen, and that makes them more likely to connect with you.
This is the fifth and final installment of Pepper’s Web Usability series. You can check out the other posts in the links below. We’d like to know before you go though, how do you make sure you get your point across? Share your answers in the comments.
- Keep it simple: the basic philosophy for web usability
- Don’t be a snob: make sure that everybody can access your site
- Identify yourself: don’t make it hard to figure out who’s behind your site
- Show me around: make it easy to navigate your site
- Say it, and say it well: make sure you get your message across
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