Writing Great Web Content Within a Content Management System

tansygoobertownInternet and Web Development

Dec 8, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)

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© 2004 E
-
WRITE

Writing Great Web Content
Within

a Content
Management System

Leslie O’Flahavan, E
-
WRITE Partner


author of
Clear Correct, Concise E
-
Mail: A
Writing Workbook for Customer Service
Agents







© 2004 E
-
WRITE

Disclaimer …


Not endorsing any particular CMS


Not a CMS expert, but I know my
clients’ CMS pain and their CMS
successes

© 2004 E
-
WRITE

Presentation Overview


What writing skills are essential to
creating good web content?


How does a CMS affect the task of
writing web content?


How can we help content authors
develop the web writing skills they need
to work within the CMS?

© 2004 E
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WRITE

#1


Write for communication,
not merely dissemination

© 2004 E
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When web writing
communicates
, users …


Can find your information online


Can read your information while looking
at the monitor


Will
value

your information


“No, it’s probably not a good idea to
make that content available as a 77
-
page PDF …”

© 2004 E
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#2
-

Provide information in different
amounts for different users


The “Bite, Snack, and Meal” approach
to web writing


Make the “most read” parts of web
content easiest to read and understand

© 2004 E
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WRITE

Bite, Snack, and Meal

© 2004 E
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#3
-

Write good headings


Users read headings to decide when
and whether to read longer content


Content writers should know how to
write both
topic

headings and
message

headings


Message headings are more helpful for
readers

© 2004 E
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Clear message headings

© 2004 E
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#4
-

Write good hypertext links


Don’t write “click here”


All within
-
page links should support the
message of the page


“What you click is what you get”


Use relevant words in links so users can
predict what they’ll get when they click


© 2004 E
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WRITE

Clear links at AARP

Home Depot Partnership


Home Depot is seeking
qualified mature workers

for its
stores across the country. Visit your local SCSEP center to
complete an employment application, or apply online


whether from home or at any Home Depot store.



How Does The Program Work?

Eligible applicants are placed in non
-
profit or public/community
service agencies where
they receive on
-
the
-
job training
.



Am I Eligible To Participate?


Eligibility is based on
age, residency, and income guidelines

established by the U.S. Department of Labor.



© 2004 E
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WRITE

#5
-

Write concise content


Verbose content confuses web users
who need to discover what your point is
easily so they can know whether to click
for more


Write content that is as short as it can
be and still make the point you want to
make


Offer users the concise version before
offering the detailed version

© 2004 E
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WRITE

Concise content from
Intercontinental Wireless

What is a service SIM card?

A service SIM
card is a small microchip or "smartcard"
which can be inserted into most any GSM
phone. This card contains all the information
needed to activate your phone and allow you
to make and receive calls. A GSM phone
without a SIM card will not function.

Your phone number is associated with the SIM
card. The cell phone itself is merely a body
and the SIM card acts as the brains for it.


© 2004 E
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#6
-

Write content that’s easy to
scan


Headings


White space


Clear, easy
-
to
-
see division between the
overall message and the supporting
information

© 2004 E
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Scannable content from IBM

© 2004 E
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#7
-

Use graphics and formatting
to support written meaning


Page layout and design


Images


Color


Bold, underlining, italics


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Graphics support written meaning
at Janus Types of Accounts

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#8
-

Write credible content


No marketing fluff


Support claims with evidence of
different kinds: statistics, case studies,
illustrations, demos, etc.


Link to credible organizations


Provide contact information

© 2004 E
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WRITE

Credible content from Fleet
Capital

Customer Services

For our existing customers, we provide a
wide array of
cash management

and
international treasury products to improve
the financial performance of U.S. companies
and their foreign subsidiaries. To
compliment loan servicing, we also offer our
customers the convenience of online account
access via
my.fleetcapital.com
. To find out
more, click on the area of interest under
customer services above.



© 2004 E
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WRITE

#9
-

Write lively content without
relying heavily on idioms, humor, or
cultural references


Not all US users are speak English as a
first language


Global users are likely to be bilingual
but will still be confused by some
idiomatic language

© 2004 E
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How would global users cope
with this content?

IBM Solutions for Your Business


What's cool about e
-
business? It plays
fair. Everybody wins
-

consumers,
businesses, suppliers. But only when
disparate systems integrate and data
flows. Isn't it time for you to claim your
wins? IBM can help.


© 2004 E
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How does a CMS affect the
task of writing web content?


Democratizes the web writing process:
everyone’s tool looks and works the same way


Simplifies the tasks of updating, editing, finding
information to be published


Regularizes the publishing process by
establishing workflow and approvals


Names the parts of web content and may set
limits on those parts


Frees user to focus on quality of content


not on
presentation

© 2004 E
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CMS Examples


State Department


homegrown CMS
for USINFO.STATE.GOV


OpenCms: Forms
-
based editing


RedDot: “SmartEdit” WYSIWYG
Interface

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USINFO.STATE.GOV: Word
Macro

© 2004 E
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OpenCms: Forms
-
based
editing



© 2004 E
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RedDot: “SmartEdit”
WYSIWYG Interface

© 2004 E
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By itself, a CMS cannot improve
the quality of web writing

Makes web writing
easier


Separates writing from
presentation


Enables content
creators to preview
writing


Makes reuse and
archiving easy


Makes web writing
harder


Weak writers struggle
with limits


A new tool to learn


Writing for reuse
requires sophistication


Workflow requires
collaboration



© 2004 E
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WRITE

How to help content contributors
develop the web writing skills they
need to work within the CMS


Training


Publish web writing standards


Provide web writing examples


Market internal case studies on the $$$
value of the CMS

© 2004 E
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WRITE

Web writing training is
essential


Lots of people who do web writing aren’t
writers


Launching/using a CMS involves training on
the application and presents a perfect
opportunity to include writing training


Training provides an opportunity to establish
and enforce writing standards


Training costs are miniscule compared to CMS
costs

© 2004 E
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Web writing standards: set your
own or borrow from others


Web writing standards must be illustrated with
examples, published everywhere, and agreed
-
upon by all


Workflow is useless unless participants share the
same standards


Web Content Standards Working Group at
http://www.cio.gov/documents/ICGI/Web_Content_Policies_DRAFT_4_
9_04.doc



New Research
-
Based Web Design and Usability
Guidelines from usability.gov at

http://www.usability.gov/pdfs/guidelines.html


© 2004 E
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Web writing standards from
Usability.gov

© 2004 E
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Make available lots of effective web
writing examples


Examples
--

“Just show me what you
want me to do”
--

presented on intranet
with explanation


Access examples from within the CMS

© 2004 E
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Prove that good web writing
improves business


Internal case studies of how writing for
reuse or writing structured content
saved a business unit time or money


© 2004 E
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WRITE

What web writing skill does
this CMS
-
using author lack?

© 2004 E
-
WRITE

Questions? Comments?

Leslie O’Flahavan

E
-
WRITE

Leslie@ewriteonline.com

Tel. 301
-
989
-
4655

www.ewriteonline.com

www.WritingWorkbook.com