Reading, still one of the most important activities on the Web.
"This presentation will sketch our evolving conceptions of reading on the Web. It examines the empirical literature about reading online with a focus on how reading has changed between 1980 and 2010. To support this analysis, I profile some typical purposes for reading online and suggest what these purposes imply for designing content and for supporting the human relationships that we intend to enable. I also point to research about how effective writing and visual design can help people understand, remember, and appreciate online content while creating human relationships and enabling actions."
Shaping compelling experiences with data, lots of them.
"This is a new sandbox for technologists, data scientists, marketers, and experience designers. What are the corpora we have access to? What is lurking within our data smog? What are the new experiences we can create? No doubt we will continue to see art and humor, but let’s use those to inspire us as we imagine what else is possible. The biggest potential (and as always the hardest problem) is in the development of game-changing experiences. I look forward to seeing where this goes."
How can 'developing content' be a part of 'content development'? Self-referencing.
"Let's face it, content development is still a massively frustrating process."
Going back to The Document as the base concept.
"It's never been a better time to be a writer. Anybody can publish their thoughts. Anybody can write a book and publish it on demand. Authors can reach out to readers, and enriching, fulfilling conversations can blossom around the connections we develop out of the things we make."
Nano copy design improves holistic UX.
"Linking from your content is important - it builds credibility and improves usability, which combined equals more satisfied readers and hopefully return visits. Finding the right material to link to takes time and effort; effort that is wasted if no one bothers to 'Click here'."
(Mich Walkden ~ Mich-communication)
In the end, hierarchy will be replaced by network.
"When we integrate content creation early in our web development processes, we are more effective at orienting our conversations to the end goals for the user and the business. This is a huge win for our users, who are increasingly demanding meaningful content experiences before they engage with our web sites and apps. It's also vital to businesses, whose success depends on communicating value in ways that convert bystanders to buyers."
"To be a top-notch film editor you need to have the eye of a painter, the ear of a composer and the story sense of a writer. You also need the ruthlessness of a commodities trader. What can designers, architects and writers learn from the art of film editing?"
(Adam Harrison Levy ~ Design Observer)
"While the Internet is a text–saturated world, reading online screens tends to be significantly different from reading printed text. This review essay examines literature from a variety of disciplines on the technological, social, behavioural, and neuroscientific impacts that the Internet is having on the practice of reading. A particular focus is given to the reading behaviour of emerging university students, especially within Canada and the United States. A brief overview is provided of the recent transformation of academic libraries into providers of online digital text in addition to printed books and other materials, before looking at research on college students' preferences for print and digital text, and the cognitive neuroscience of reading on screen."
"Some web design and web development agencies have it all. They provide their clients with a complete site solution from beginning to end, from site planning and information architecture to web design, web hosting, and SEO. It's tough for a smaller web design company or the solo freelancer to compete. Or is it? It may be easier than you think to broaden your competitiveness by adding web content writing services to your web design company." (Rick Sloboda ~ Six Revisions)
"Poorly devised, unhelpful content is wasteful. It potentially wastes the time of users and can also have financial implications for the company responsible for it, in this case Apple. Because they were not more thoughtful about their micro copy, they’ve had to correspond with me multiple times, costing them and me money and time. They've also left me feeling frustrated and, if at all possible, I will probably look to spend my money elsewhere. Lucky for them, they are one of the only providers of digital MP3 and video content online in my region of the world. Unless you're Apple, can you afford to alienate customers because of careless copy?" (Amy Thibodeau ~ Contentini)
"The personal web publishing boom has led to an information explosion. It's a data free-for-all, and it's just beginning. Andrew Blau is a researcher and the co-president of Global Business Network in San Fransisco. Blau has foretold the changes in media distribution and content creation. Now he's watching this new, historic emergence of first-person publishing." (Steve Rosenbaum ~ Mashable)
"(...) is content which is not limited to one purpose, technology or output. It's content that is structurally rich and semantically aware, and is therefore discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable and adaptable. It's content that helps you and your customers get the job done. It's content that works for you and it's limited only by your imagination." (Ann Rockley ~ The Content Wrangler)
"Be honest, did you immediately think of a sketch or mockup you have tucked away? Or some clever little piece of code you want to fiddle with? Now ask yourself, why would you start designing the container if you haven't worked out what you need to put inside? Anyway, forget the content strategy lecture; I haven't given you your gifts yet. I present The Twelve Days of Contentmas! This is a simple little plan to make sure that your personal site, blog or portfolio is not just looking good at the end of these twelve days, but is also a really useful repository of really useful content." (Relly Annett-Baker ~ 24Ways)
"Nobody needs to convince you that it's important to test your website's design and interaction with the people who will use it, right? But if that's all you do, you're missing out on feedback about the most important part of your site: the content. Whether the purpose of your site is to convince people to do something, to buy something, or simply to inform, testing only whether they can find information or complete transactions is a missed opportunity: Is the content appropriate for the audience? Can they read and understand what you've written?" (Angela Colter ~ A List Apart)
"In this article, I am going to explore the written Web site content whose purpose is to cause prospective customers to take action—or that results in their not taking action—from the perspective of its achieving a company's sales and marketing goals. This discussion assumes the company has a service or product to sell. If you’'re not interested in the motivational aspects of sales psychology and what their proper use can do to help a company’s sales efforts, then stop right here, because you will not like this article." (Chandler Turner ~ UXmatters)
"In the realm of content, an image can play a strong supporting role, as can a design or a video. But text is the lead actor. Text engages readers on a deeper level because text allows you to explore and communicate complex ideas in ways not possible with other mediums. In the world of content, text matters. A lot." (Tom Johnson ~ I'd Rather Be Writing)
"(...) the content strategist's role requires you not only to wrangle an immense amount of content into one unified whole, but also to wrangle and guide large groups of stakeholders and other decision leaders toward the same end." (I'd Rather Be Writing)
"A plain language expert combines skills in writing, information design, and usability. A plain language expert can help make instructions, headings, and other text clear to voters. This article provides help in evaluating someone as a plain language expert." (Janice Ginny Redish ~ Center for Plain Language)
"(...) I can see two issues that make this a pretty difficult task, and it's the reason why the above three methods should not be used in isolation. In combination, they help tell the whole story. It is difficult to know what users really read on a page and it is difficult to isolate the effect of content changes from the other influencing factors on a page." (Rian van der Merwe ~ Elezea)
"One of the most fundamental rules of user experience on the web is that developers are rarely qualified to evaluate it. As developers, we know far too much about the web in general, and intuitively grasp details that mystify people who spend their days contributing to society in other ways. For this reason, it’s all too easy for us to build websites and applications that are hard to use. Good user testing during the development process can mitigate the problem, but in many projects, the testing budget is limited if present at all." (Lyle Mullican ~ A List Apart)
"If you want to stay ahead of the web publishing curve, now is the time to start learning and experimenting with the Semantic Web. It’s been in development since the ’90s, led by Tim Berners-Lee himself. When media historians write books about the information transformation we are in (from print to web), the Semantic Web will be at least as important as the invention of HTML. Having Semantic Web-enabled pages will soon be a big competitive advantage for you and your company." (Writing for Digital)
"Writing, editing, and creating content for the digital world." (Y!)
"If you create a design that doesn't build from the content, you end up with a mismatch. When it comes to add your content, you find that your content/story doesn't actually fit the design/theme." (Tom Johnson ~ I'd Rather Be Writing)
"Designers often neglect to focus on both well-written copy and structuring a design so that it highlights the copy on the page. Today we'll discuss why copywriting is so important, who needs to learn it, and how to create content-centric designs." (Joshua Johnson)
"I'm starting a new series on organizing content. I'm not sure how many parts there will be in this series. Writing essays in a serial format is an experiment I'm exploring. Basically this approach to writing follows the agile model. I write a bit, get some feedback, write some more, get feedback, and keep going. The feedback along the way shapes the direction I'm heading. Also, with each serial post, I hope to take the issue a little deeper." (I'd Rather Be Writing)
"Experts say that a person's behavior on the web is highly goal-driven. People have things they want to accomplish, whether it's making a purchase, finding a recipe or learning how to do something new. Inherent in many web page designs, therefore, is information to help a user perform an action." (Understanding Graphics)
"Many people do not read easily. They may have a visual problem or dyslexia. They may have not have had opportunities to learn to read, or be reading in stressful conditions or poor light, or perhaps they are reading in a second language. Is it possible to provide one consistent set of guidelines or approaches that will allow designers to meet all the apparently diverse needs of these people? Or are there compromises to be made?" (About Design to Read)
"To select the right words, take cues from rhetoric and psychology. I do not mean use unctuous sales language or manipulative mind control, nor do I necessarily mean use catchy words. I simply mean add influential weight to web writing based on centuries of rhetorical wisdom and a growing body of scientific knowledge." (Colleen Jones - A List Apart)
"Just because content is king doesn't mean, however, that the designer's job is any less important. How seriously would people take the King if his suit was poorly made? It has to look good." (Paul Boag)
"When it comes to designing a website, content is often overlooked, but why? Very rarely do users browse the web looking for a good design or decent experience. Users come for the content. Not giving them what they want with poorly written content will frustrate users. Not only does it waste their time, but your time as well." (Shay Howe - letscountthedays) - courtesy of destrywion
"This kind of reading suggests that behind it lies a different kind of thinking. And unfortunately this may weaken our capacity to develop a deep kind of reading. According to Maryanne Wolf, development psychologist at Tufts University, we have become ‘mere decoders of information’. Our ability to interpret text, to make rich mental connections that are formed when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged. But actually we are dealing with a problem here that we have to cope with because our ancestors, like Plato, believed that writing and reading was a good thing." (Denise Pires - Dancing Uphill)
"While this article tends toward copywriting for the user experience as it pertains to the online world, you can apply it to other aspects of your brand as well. The most important point being to take the user, aka the person, reading what you're writing into account from the get-go. Communicate for them first and foremost." (Karen Goldfarb)
"Effective writing skills are to a writer what petrol is to a car. Like the petrol and car relationship, without solid skills writers cannot move ahead. These skills don’t come overnight, and they require patience and determination. You have to work smart and hard to acquire them. Only with experience, you can enter the realm of effective, always-in-demand writers." (Smashing Magazine) - courtesy of khalvorson
"Who has not discovered to their dismay that no one wants to read their most carefully crafted, meritorious, compelling, and passionate writings? Think of all the proposals you have written that no one is interested in. Or the web pages, the blog posts, or the company brochures. Chances are, your failures are linked to an inability to connect with what your readers would be interested in reading." (Phil Yaffe - ACM Ubiquity)
"Our study found that language that engages people on web pages is not the same as the language that forms the pathways to a site. Rather, people change or adapt language terms as they refine their search from their original language of intent (their thoughts) to terms and phrases that more closely mirror language they see in their search, coupled with a mechanical style they think will be better understood by search engines. But the language they appear to respond to most favourably when they finally engage with a website is language that more closely resembles their original language of intent – less mechanical, more natural and human. The 'translation' from human language into online language seems to be a sub-conscious and iterative or fluid process: people refine or filter their language as their online journey progresses and this is particularly evident during the search journey." - (Content Delivery & Analysis)
"Users often see online content out of context and read it with different goals than you envisioned. While you can't predict all such goals, you can plan for multiple uses of your text." - (Jakob Nielsen - Alertbox)
"Despite the ubiquity of reading on the web, readers remain a neglected audience. Much of our talk about web design revolves around a sense of movement: users are thought to be finding, searching, skimming, looking. We measure how frequently they click but not how long they stay on the page. We concern ourselves with their travel and participation - how they move from page to page, who they talk to when they get there—but forget the needs of those whose purpose is to be still. Readers flourish when they have space - some distance from the hubbub of the crowds - and as web designers, there is yet much we can do to help them carve out that space." - (Mandy Brown - A List Apart)
"Public language has become impoverished by ‘managerialism’ which frequently reduces language to strings of ‘weasel’ words, a phenomenon blamed on the information society. This process is not as ubiquitous or as inevitable as often represented, however. Drawing on Burke’s notion of human beings as 'wordlings', I argue for the centrality of well–crafted words, especially on the Internet, and offer examples of language crafted with care and passion, leading to distilled and vivid expression. I use the term 'word bytes' for such language, as it can cut through the multiple items of information from many other media with which it is surrounded, and demand to be noticed and remembered. I conclude we do not have to accept the impoverished form of 'managerial' English, often produced by elites and used to justify the 'financialization' of the late capitalist world. We can begin to counter it by our own practices of using words with care and passion, and by disseminating our words. We can also stop and question 'weasel' language wherever we encounter it." - (Carolyne Lee - First Monday 14.2)
"Written communication has increased with email, instant messaging, blogs, wikis, and numerous other Internet services. As readers we struggle constantly to understand these communications despite enormous pressures on our time and attention. Phil Yaffe has been offering Ubiquity readers simple principles that have helped make these written communications significantly more effective. A while ago he told us about ten general principles, more recently about three acid tests, and now a single principle for good sentences." - (Philip Yaffe - ACM Ubiquity)
"We, the people who make websites, have been talking for fifteen years about user experience, information architecture, content management systems, coding, metadata, visual design, user research, and all the other disciplines that facilitate our users' abilities to find and consume content. Weirdly, though, we haven't been talking about the meat of the matter. We haven't been talking about the content itself." (Kristina Halvorson - A List Apart)
"In many of my columns, I have touted the importance of persuasive, or influential, content and shared relevant theories and arguments, sprinkling in some practical tips and examples along the way. This column brings together a collection of practical tips, or recipes, for persuasive content. My goal for these recipes is to help anyone who touches content to bake in some influential goodness. Because of my background and experience, these recipes have an English-speaking American flavor, but I think they are a useful starting point for international content, as well." (Colleen Jones - UXmatters)
"User interface designers have more interactive options than ever for presenting content. So, we can make meaningful strides toward offering users the right content in the right place, at the right time, in the right amount. However, these rich options for interactively presenting content also come with a challenge." (Colleen Jones - UXmatters)
"Linear vs. non-linear. Author-driven vs. reader-driven. Storytelling vs. ruthless pursuit of actionable content. Anecdotal examples vs. comprehensive data. Sentences vs. fragments." (Jakob Nielsen - Alertbox)
"Findable. Scannable. Readable. Concise. Layered. We know much these days about how to make Web content usable—thanks to experts such as Robert Horn, Jakob Nielsen, Ginny Redish, and Gerry McGovern. What we don't understand as well, however, is how to make content win users over to take the actions we want them to take or have the perceptions we want them to have. We don’t understand how to make Web content both usable and persuasive. I, by no means, intend to imply that we should sacrifice the usability of content to make it more persuasive. Truly winning content must be both." (Colleen Jones - UXmatters)
"The real secret of E.B. White is listening, incorporating, translating, and finally accepting pundits into our practice. We aren't at war at all. We all want the same thing. We all want more great work in the world." (Christina Wodtke - Boxes and Arrows)
"Public language is a cognition-enhancing tool -- it is a species of external artifact whose current adaptive value is partially constituted by its role in re-shaping the kinds of computational space that our biological brains must negotiate in order to solve certain types of problems, or to carry out certain complex projects. This computational role of language has been somewhat neglected (not un-noticed, but not rigorously pursued either) in recent cognitive science, due perhaps to a (quite proper) fascination with and concentration upon, that other obvious dimension: the role of language as an instrument of interpersonal communication. In this chapter, I try to display the broad shape of the alternative orientation. I discuss the views of some recent (and not-so-recent) authors, who recognize in various ways, the potential role of language and text in transforming, reshaping and simplifying the computational tasks that confront the biological brain. I then pursue this idea through a series of examples involving planning, concept learning, the construction of complex thoughts and the capacity to refelect on our own cognitive profiles." (Andy Clark)
"It's time we designers stop thinking of ourselves as merely pixel people, and start thinking of ourselves as the creators of experiences. And when it comes to experience on the web, there’s no better way to create it than to write, and write well." (Derek Powazek - A List Apart)
"The consequence of the two rules may be that you end up with buttons with labels that are longer than a single word. I think that's much better than striving for single words that are either confusing (as they might be in our example) or infuriating (as in the many dialog boxes that inform me that some program has done something truly ghastly to my computer, and then expect me to click 'OK' as if I'm happy about it)." (Caroline Jarrett - Usability News)
"It's been proven that two things people will look at on the screen are bullet points and numbered lists. Knowing that, use them. It's called content chunking, and, as you can see from many of our own pieces, it's an effective way to pull the eye." (Michelle Cameron - ACM Ubiquity)
"Maintaining the quality of your content is critical to the long term success of your website. That involves establishing rigorous pre and post publication editorial processes." (Gerry McGovern)
"This guide is based on the style book which is given to all journalists." (The Economist) - courtesy of jesse james garrett
"Web editors are critical to website success. They have a combination of communications, marketing and technology skills. Most of all, they know their readers inside out." (Gerry McGovern)
"In deciding to rank your website, search engines pay a lot of attention to the actual content they find on your webpages." (Gerry McGovern)
"Labels can also be quite problematic as translation processes often lack the context behind content selections and thereby result in non-standard or confusing terminology for users. As anyone that has sat through a usability test or two can testify, confusing or non-descriptive terms on category labels and calls to action are some of the most common usability problems. (...) The right solution to translation, of course, is cultural experts that can inform correct action and category labels." (Luke Wroblewski - Functioning Form)
"The way to make web content more valued is to make it more measured. The more ways you can measure the value your content delivers, the more your career will be valued." (Gerry McGovern)
"Most people within most organizations don’t value content. In a typical organization, the higher up you go the less appreciation there is. That's all about to change because content is a 'hidden' asset of great value." (Gerry McGovern)
"Your website success will increase the better you write headings and summaries. People are very impatient, so the heading and summary really needs to be compelling. Here are some key tips for writing better headings and summaries." (Gerry McGovern)
"How a website has written its links is an excellent way to judge its quality. Good websites tend to have a rich and intuitive link structure. Good web writers think clearly about how each piece of content links up with the rest of the content on the website." (Gerry McGovern)
"The premise in this article is that there are unexplored opportunities for news providers when consideration is given to the full range of variables that impact readability. The fact that typical readers do not take advantage of news content as it is currently packaged and delivered is, in fact, only part of the rationale for this statement." (Howard Williams - ASIS&T Bulletin Aug/Sep 2004)
"Nine-tenths of meaning can be gained from scanning a page that has other representational elements besides text - provided they are of course relevant to what's being said. In other words, information design needs to be intelligent and thoughtful." (The Plain Language Association International)
"Follow these six guidelines for how to write effective link text and your site visitors will be able to find what they're looking for quickly and efficiently." (Trenton Moss - evolt.org)
"There is a need to connect the person who creates the content with the person who reads it. Content creation must be seen as an important and valuable task within the organization. When a piece of content delivers value, the person who created it should be praised and rewarded." (Gerry McGovern)
"There are two roles in web content management that matter: editors and writers. Editors decide what should get published. Writers create the content. Most websites started off with administrators—webmasters—who had lots of responsibility and little authority. Today, we see the emergence of the web editor, a position that will become increasingly important." (Gerry McGovern)
"A style guide helps you quickly and cost-effectively publish content that is of a consistent quality. It is particularly important when there are lots of editors and authors involved in the publishing process. A good style guide takes a lot of time and effort to create. Unless its implementation is policed, it will not achieve its objectives." (Gerry McGovern)
"Content still is king of the Web and the designers, developers and producers of the Web should be the king's loyal subjects. Trust me, it's in our best interests." (D. Keith Robinson - Asterisk)
"High quality web content impresses people and search engines." (Quality Web Content) - courtesy of craig marion
"Computer users have become accustomed to the writing of documents being regarded as a separate activity from the reading of documents. We believe that this division is unnecessary and limits the effectiveness of virtually every computer user. It is time for a rethink of underlying concepts. A key concept for integrating reading with writing is a general mechanism for annotation. This general mechanism can be combined with hyperlinking to create a single unifying super-concept that provides a base for integrating reading and writing. The paper explains the underlying ideas, and describes the results of a small experiment that supported the viability of the super-concept. We believe that the super-concept might possibly provide the foundations for a revolution in thinking about documents, which would benefit everyone." (P. J. Brown and Heather Brown - Journal of Digital Information)
"Advertising agencies tend to design awful websites because they are obsessed with getting attention. When people come to your website, you have already got their attention. They want to do something. They want detail. They want facts. The thing they value most is their time. So don’t waste it." (Gerry McGovern)
"To help you figure out what will work for you and your audiences when you start tapping out electronic text, we bring together the results of research on usability, readability, reading comprehension, and writing methods." (About HT) - courtesy of elearning
"Publishing your website in another language is like managing a brand new website. It demands people who are expert in writing and editing in that language. The standard of English on the Web, for example, is often poor, even for those whose native language it is. It can be embarrassingly bad for websites publishing English as a foreign language." (Gerry McGovern)
"The technology of the Information Age depends on programming languages for functionality. Because programming languages ultimately affect the production of language digitally, programming languages will inevitably demonstrate a lasting effect on the process of writing. Hence it is important to recognize the impact of programming languages on the production of language. It may well be the necessary first step in understanding technologyís reverberating presence in the classroom." (Claudia Herbst - First Monday 8.11)
"This site was developed as an educational supplement for anthropology students (...)" (Utah State University) - courtesy of reloade
"Roundtable panelists discuss the value of blogs, business strategies for pricing content and what professionals and consumers alike should look forward to." (Mark Glaser - USC Annenberg: Online Journalism Review) - courtesy of glenn fleish
"Strong visual design is about balance. It requires an appropriate relationship between written content, information hierarchy and the use of visual elements such as graphics and photography." (Dirk Knemeyer - Thread)
"Photographs are rarely self-sufficient. They need captions. A caption tells us something about the person or thing photographed, also something about the photographer. In this article, we discuss how to write photo captions for the Web. We provide examples from adultsí and childrenís work." (Ruth Garner, Mark Gillingham, and Yong Zhao - First Monday 8.9)
"(...) copy can address some of the most pressing challenges facing your business online." (Nick Usborne)
"(...) the primary goal of communication design: to make vital, engaging work intended above all to be read." (Dean Allen - A List Apart)
"Clear, usable content is easily created by deliberating writing for many different levels of reader interest" (Nathan Wallace - e-gineer)
"(...) the evaluation of hypertext from the perspective of text comprehension" (Peter W. Foltz - Dept. of Psychology -New Mexico State University)
"(...) a must-have for any student and conscientious writer" (William Struck, Jr)
"(...) reading is the means by which the world does a large part of its work" (Paul Muter - University of Toronto)
"Specific do's and don'ts, with examples" (Good Documents)
For writers, editors, and others who create content for online media (Editor: Amy Gahran, online content consultant)