Writing for mobile/web
Understand and focus on the audience’s goals
- Understand your audience(s) and what their goal/main concern/need is.
It is important to focus on one single goal. Prioritize by starting with the most important topics from your audience’s point of view (empathy map) and then drill down to the collateral or additional information (content themes/buckets).
- Write specific and focused: Offer one idea per sentence. Be specific. Keep each paragraph to 400 characters or less.
- Focus on helping the visitor, rather than just presenting information.
- Think globally. As a general rule, avoid use of idioms, jargon, acronyms and slang. Try to select examples that will work globally. Consider international audiences.
- Use a topic format, not a FAQ format. A list of 20 FAQs is hard for users to scan and grasp.
Write in the correct tone and style that fits with the brand
- Use a natural and purposeful tone of voice where possible.
- Use accurate, understandable, clear and concise terms.
- Use an active voice and short, simple sentences. Keep each paragraph to 400 characters or less.
- Step-by-step instructions should be numbered. Each step is a complete sentence that starts with an imperative.
- Only use quotations for buttons, tabs, titles of pages and references, and not for other terms.
Make pages findable (Search Engine Optimization)
- Update metadata, the IA, and the A-Z index whenever you are adding a new page or changing the title of a page. Keep title to 5 words or less.
- Use natural and purposeful language for updating metadata to reflect what customers might search for.
- Use precise wording for all headlines and link names, telling users exactly what will be behind a link (not: “More information”, but: “Learn more about [topic]”).
Optimize pages for online reading
- Use clear and meaningful headlines and sub-headlines. Make sure to use terms which are also used in the following paragraph (consistency and "information scent")
- Use elements such as bulleted lists, tables and white space to make the pages easily scannable.
- Use graphics when they can significantly help the user understand a concept or discover hard-to-find information instead of long text.
- Minimize duplication of content and documentation of procedures. Summarize and use links.
Uphold the brand promise of the institution
- Content must be helpful and trustworthy. Content must be accurate, not only for the sake of the user, but because it also represents your unit as a part of the wider institution. Content may be used as evidence in legal cases.
- Content must be credible and professional, free of typos and grammatical errors.
- Review voice and tone to ensure voice is helpful, straightforward.
- Each section may have its own purpose and tone, but as long as it is always in line with master brand and global voice.
- Do not allow content to be dumped onto the website just because it is handy.
- People’s expectations of content are also based on their use of other websites that share common characteristics.
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