Blog: Content writing and content strategy insights

Wiki your web and intranet guidelines

Nick Besseling outlines a process for developing web and intranet guidelines using a wiki. Obvious benefits are avoiding the 'style nazi' label, and getting staff involved and committed to standards—everywhere an issue, notoriously so in universities. Wikis were born for this.
Wiki your web and intranet guidelines

Paperclips beat myrrh (usually)

The content of presents and web pages have much in common.

  • Shiny red wrapping with a holograph pattern attracts the greedy eye. (A professional design provides a worthy wrapping for good content.)
  • Sticky tape holds the wrapping firmly. (The web page is held together unobtrusively.)
  • A label bearing your own name is reassuring. (Personalised content is appreciated on Amazon pages.)
  • But it's the parcel content(s) that really interests us. (Ditto for a web page.)

Elsie wrapped a present for baby Jesus, and put it under the tree. The wrapping was more sellotape than paper, and with a 3-year-old's wisdom she gave him one green paper clip.

On the Web, some of us are certainly hunting for golden content, but as daily fare, myrhh and frankincense are somewhat overrated. Nine times out of ten, what we want from a web page is more like a paper clip: functional, usable, small and plain.

From tomorrow I'll be holidaying in Mapua, Nelson, for a week or so and probably won't post much in January. (You wouldn't read it anyway, would you?) Meantime I hope your holiday season is full of good things, such as relaxation and wrapping paper. Time enough for paper clips in 2007.

November 29, 2006


Tips › Writing ›

Writing tip: Its or it's?

Its and it's belong to two different families.

One family has no apostrophes: his, hers, its.

The other family all has apostrophes: he's, she's, it's.

To check whether its has an apostrophe, substitute another member of the family:

  • He's amazing, she's amazing, it's amazing (need for an apostrophe is obvious).
  • His hat, her hat, its hat (an apostrophe would be wrong).

This sort of error is hideously obvious in web content. Some readers (me included) always notice an its/it's error. Instant credibility crash as we subconsciously assume, 'Typo, ignorance, alarm bells, out of here!'

Some people half-learned a perfectly good old rule (an apostrophe replaces a missing letter). Unfortunately that half-knowing can torture the writer into dithering and questioning and delaying. If that's you, learn the family rule instead and start afresh.

Use relevant, authentic photos or none

Eyetracking maps show there is a certain type of image that people literally do not see on a web page. It is amazing to realise that images can be totally ignored by a sample of 30 people in the entire time they spend looking at a page. A selective blindness strikes virtually all viewers.

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