Be mindful and deliberate about the content you publish
Consider: Does the content REALLY need to be there? Don't make people think. Be clear and obvious when choosing your words.
“Web copy is still, for the most part, being written in much-less-than-ideal circumstances by people who aren’t writers and don’t have any time. That’s a problem, but it’s not one we’re likely to solve in the next few years—particularly not with a recession forcing many people to do ever more with ever less. The good news, though, is that anyone who touches copy can make a difference by insisting that every chunk of text on the site is doing something concrete.”
--A List Apart, website for people who make websites
Say more with less
- Write short, scannable text (use meaningful headlines (not cute ones) and bulleted lists to call out your text/info)
- Get readers to the info they need by linking smartly --The Web is all about providing informational/action content, then linking people to additional relevant copy. You do NOT need to tell people to "follow this link", “click here” or "on another page of this website ... ", etc… Instead, use a description of the information to be found once linked: “Read our course requirements.”
- Say “no” to content pollution. Usability studies typically find that removing half of a website’s words will double the amount of information that users actually get.
- Many of your readers will have navigated from a search engine, so highlight important keywords (B.A. Program in XXX) in your headers 1.) so that they can find you and 2.) so that they know they landed on the information they seek. Resist the urge to have a one-sided conversation with your visitor that introduces a lot of unsearchable, less functional text (Welcome to the Department of XXX. Our mission is XXX. We look forward to helping you XXX).
Be the editor
Act like you know what you’re doing (you do!). Especially when you have the Web Team to lean on for support and best practices. If you take ownership of your department’s website, people will begin to treat you like the web editor that you are. We see a lot of editors who feel disenfranchised from the decision making and as a result just allow the site to deteriorate. We suggest try acting like an expert in your field and use the Web Team as often as you need to say "no" to non-strategic requests ("The Web Team said no").