Blog: Content writing and content strategy insights

Writing tip: Editing web content

Editing is always a step-by-step process. And always you start by asking the big questions, such as:

  • Is this web page really necessary?
  • What is this page for? 
  • Who needs it?
  • Is the same information on another page?
  • What do you want people to do after reading this page?
At work when the pressure’s on, what do you do? You apply the 80:20 principle: you skip to a simple Contented system that will fix the majority of problems very fast.

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When web accessibility goes down the drain

WCAG 2.0 and S.508 go down the drainWe work with many government agencies on web accessibility. And sure,
 our whizz-bang accessibility experts can get your web sites to comply with national web standards, whether that's S. 508 or WCAG 2.0 or some other variation. So what's the problem?

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18 years of writing for the web: how hot is that?

Writing on the web: for writing courses
Since 1995, writing for the web is a phrase that has come full circle: literary writing online. Business writing, writing on the web, writing for the intranet, blogging, web content, SEO writing, content marketing, mobile content, accessible content, digital communication ... what next?

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Web writing tip: Use keywords in headlines

Use keywords in headlines (often called headings). That's a basic rule of writing for the Web—and all other business writing.

Here's why.

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4 years on: awesome online writing courses for the digital workplace

Yesterday Alice, Rachel and baby Eden celebrated 4 years of developing and marketing awesome online writing courses for the digital workplace.

Right at the start, we had set some stern and serious goals for our new company, Contented. But we also made it a policy to celebrate achievements, and to be sure we were both contented in our business roles. We do, we are, and so we're still around, doing fine, enjoying our work, and looking forward to another year of being Contented.

Many thanks to you! Yesterday we toasted you, all our friends and supporters, with a raspberry smoothie and a coffee.

5D Writing: workshop for ALGIM Web Symposium

ALGIM (Association of Local Government Information Management) 2010 Web Symposium is on 3-4 May in Wellington.

Alice and I are preparing a workshop for the Symposium, and thought we'd share our concept of 5D writing with you. All will become clear on the day!

5D Writing: Transport your staff from filing cabinets to the 5th dimension

Unlike words on paper, web words do not stay in one place: they operate in five dimensions.

Today, staff have an obvious responsibility to make information accessible, usable and above all findable.

We’ll whisk you through the five dimensions of web content on a trip from silverfish to wormholes. We'll show examples of local government web content to inspire and explain. We distil the demands of content writing into a few core skills with maximum impact, shrinking the distance from filing cabinets to hyperspace. Stop your web content from vanishing into a black hole, gain support for your web project, and win time for your real work instead of patching up badly written web content.

Every day we talk with web managers who face these kinds of problems. We're always looking for a new angle to help content authors too, because some struggle!

We have a soft spot for web managers and content authors working for local and regional authorities. The public has high expectations which the authorities are legally bound to deliver, but some have tiny budgets.

ALGIM will present the results and rankings of its annual web audit at the Web Symposium. This is always a highlight. The websites of the 85 local authorities throughout New Zealand are audited against established government web guidelines. The aim is to raise awareness and standards of online service.

We're looking forward to the Symposium, where we'll learn heaps and hope to offer some useful solutions.

Image of the 5th dimension from


At last a new book for content writers

Yay! My new book Better Business Writing on the Web is here! Actually, it's already selling like the proverbial hot cakes.

My previous book for content authors was Web Word Wizardry. Huge changes have happened since I revised that in 2001 for Ten Speed Press.

In 2001 I wrote for individuals, often small business people designing their own sites and mainly concerned with search results. Since then other books have been published for the individual designer-writer, journalist and sales copywriter.

Left out of the loop were content authors who have no control over site design or architecture. Typically, they are salaried employees who simply write for work, without training. They use a CMS or publishing tool to publish their own documents on a web site or intranet. They are busy. They have no idea how to adapt their writing for the web. Their number is legion, now that content publishing is the responsibility of subject experts on the staff.

This book is dedicated to:
Everyone who ever wrote an advertisement, agenda, annual report, chart, discussion document, form, graph, instruction, law, letter, memo, manual, marketing document, newsletter, mission statement, news releases, news story, pamphlet, policy statement, procedure, promotion, proposal, presentation, report, RTF, schedule or specification.

And then the boss said, "We've decided to put this on the intranet." (Or web site.)

The other audience is of course the web developers and managers who battle against a tsunami of terrible content. Someone who certainly knows told me:

The US government estimates (because no one actually KNOWS) that it has more than 400 million pages of content. I'll bet that a) 50% of it is seldom, if ever, used, b) 25% is redundant or actually contradicts other government content, and c) 80% is so poorly written that the intended readers can't possibly comprehend what we intend and/or can't find what they want/need.

What's a poor content manager to do? For this audience I have identified the few key skills that make an exponential improvement to online content, and included chapters on writing for government, academic, commercial and intranet sites. Naturally, Web 2.0 has its own chapter and also pops up elsewhere. Even more important, I discuss how to short-circuit the production of bad content, starting with mass cost-effective training.

Buy one copy for yourself, then buy more for your organisation