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Topic: Writing for the Web

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  • Transactional Email and Confirmation Messages

    October 20, 2008

    Automated email can improve customer service, strengthen relationships, and help websites bypass search engines. But most messages fared poorly in user testing and didn't fulfill this potential.

    "About Us" Information on Websites

    September 29, 2008

    Over the past 5 years the usability of corporate sites' About Us information improved by 9%. But companies and organizations still can't explain what they do in one paragraph.

    Writing Style for Print vs. Web

    June 9, 2008

    Linear vs. non-linear. Author-driven vs. reader-driven. Storytelling vs. ruthless pursuit of actionable content. Anecdotal examples vs. comprehensive data. Sentences vs. fragments.

    How Little Do Users Read?

    May 6, 2008

    On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.

    Long vs. Short Articles as Content Strategy

    November 12, 2007

    Information foraging shows how to calculate your content strategy's costs and benefits. A mixed diet that combines brief overviews and comprehensive coverage is often best.

    Passive Voice Is Redeemed For Web Headings

    October 22, 2007

    Active voice is best for most Web content, but using passive voice can let you front-load important keywords in headings, blurbs, and lead sentences. This enhances scannability and thus SEO effectiveness.

    Blah-Blah Text: Keep, Cut, or Kill?

    October 1, 2007

    Introductory text on Web pages is usually too long, so users skip it. But short intros can increase usability by explaining the remaining content's purpose.

    Write Articles, Not Blog Postings

    July 9, 2007

    To demonstrate world-class expertise, avoid quickly written, shallow postings. Instead, invest your time in thorough, value-added content that attracts paying customers.

    Use Old Words When Writing for Findability

    August 28, 2006

    Familiar words spring to mind when users create their search queries. If your writing favors made-up terms over legacy words, users won't find your site.

    Situate Follow-Ups in Context

    December 20, 2004

    Make new or follow-up information easily accessible from the location of the original information or transaction.

    Information Pollution

    August 11, 2003

    Excessive word count and worthless details are making it harder for people to extract useful information. The more you say, the more people tune out your message.

    Designing Web Ads Using Click-Through Data

    September 2, 2001

    Search engine ads are one type of Web advertising that can actually work. To create the best ads, do quick experiments and redesign ads based on usability principles for online writing. Doing so helped us increase ad click-through by 55% to 310%.

    Tagline Blues: What's the Site About?

    July 22, 2001

    A website's tagline must explain what the company does and what makes it unique among competitors. Two questions can help you assess your own tagline: Would it work just as well for competitors? Would any company ever claim the opposite?

    Corporate Websites Get a 'D' in PR

    April 1, 2001

    Corporations spend millions on PR, and yet the press sections of their websites often fail to meet journalists' most basic information needs. In our recent usability study, journalists found answers to only 68% of their questions across a range of corporate sites.

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