Reach Readers Online manual
How to get the word out on the Web
“The most common user activity is fleeing the site.”
— Edward Tufte, “the da Vinci of data”
Nine out of 10 commercial websites are hard to use, says usability guru Jakob Nielsen, principle of the Nielsen Norman Group: “On average, the Web doesn’t work. When you think of something to do on the Web, the expected outcome is that you will fail.”
“Reach Readers Online” is designed to help you put your website among the one in 10 that are easy to use. This manual is like six handbooks in one. You’ll learn how to:
1. Choose the right vehicle.
The message must drive the medium, not the reverse. Here’s how to make the best decisions about which medium and vehicle make the most sense for your objectives. You’ll learn:
- How to sort through old thinking vs. new thinking in print and online vehicles. (Is your current plan based on outdated assumptions?)
- Why online readers miss top news more often than print readers — and how you can make sure your audience members know what’s important
- Keys to convergence: how to produce print and online communications that work together
- A quick case study for producing more communications at a fraction of the price with online media
- When to use PDF files. (Note: If you’re using them for most online communications, you’re missing the mark)
2. Plan an effective site.
Learn four issues to consider before you produce your first online vehicle. You’ll learn how to:
- Ensure that your electronic communication doesn’t contribute to fact fog, data smog, info-junk or cyber-spaghetti
- Avoid creating a society of information haves and have-nots in your organization
- Add some push to your pull: six ways to drive readers to your site
- Make sure you’re repurposing and not regurgitating information (After all, if it looks like print, feels like print and acts like print, it might as well be print!)
- Make your own site more interactive and useful with some of our best practices in online communications
3. Make your site usable.
Usability is not solely the responsibility of techies. In this manual, you’ll learn how communicators can help make websites more usable and effective. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Avoid wasting your reader’s time by choosing the right organizing principle (Note: Most sites still get this wrong.)
- Make sure your designer doesn’t create a site that’s too cute to use
- Let readers know where they are with navigation that’s clearer and easier to use
- Use what your readers know about the search box to provide a less frustrating experience on your site
- Avoid seven ways to insult your reader
4. Write copy that clicks.
When reading on the screen, your audience members suffer physical ailments ranging from double vision to nausea to difficulty thinking. No wonder people avoid reading online!
If you want to write Web copy that overcomes the obstacles of online reading and really gets the word out on the Web, this manual is for you. You’ll learn a six-step process for making copy more readable and engaging on the Web. Learn how to:
- Increase the usability of your copy by 124 percent with three simple steps
- Avoid a common hyperlinking mistake that drives readers nuts — and drives them from your site
- Go beyond WWWWWH to include the two elements that really need to go into an online lead
- Determine how long your Web page should be (Beware: Some page-length recommendations are based on outdated readership research.)
- Apply the 30-3-30-3 rule to give online readers what they’re looking for
- Make feature stories work on the Web
- Develop a voice for your online communications (Hint: It should “sound” different from your print materials.)
5. Write effective microcontent.
“For a company with 10,000 employees, the cost of a poorly written headline on an intranet home page is almost $5,000.”
— Jakob Nielsen, “the king of usability”
Have you ever received a search result that read as gobbledygook? Do you have any bookmarks that say: “Untitled Page”? Have you ever tried to figure out which link to click in index listing “Issue 1, Issue 2, Issue 3″?
If so, you’ve been a victim of poorly written microcontent. In this manual, you’ll learn how to present your online copy to communicate — instead of discombobulate — your readers. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Write microcontent that’s easy to understand no matter where it shows up. (After all, if they can’t figure out what it means, chances are, they won’t click.)
- Pass a test to ensure that your copy is broken into small enough chunks
- Apply six elements of good microcontent. (Most online writers haven’t mastered these skills, so these techniques will put you ahead of your peers)
- Avoid dropping a key piece of microcontent that helps readers get the gist of the story, even if they don’t read the text
- Write links and buttons that get clicked
- Plus: Get a checklist for writing page titles, taglines, headlines, decks, subheads and links and buttons
6. Package your information.
“Anything that’s great print design is likely to be lousy Web design,” writes Jakob Nielsen, “the king of usability.”
Some of the design and packaging techniques you use to engage readers in print will also work on the screen. Problem is many won’t. Here’s how to produce a look that will draw readers to your information:
- Produce Web pages that work with — and not against — readers’ natural online viewing habits
- Use the differences between how readers look at information online vs. how they look at print to create more effective Web pages
- Where to put promotional information so readers get drawn in, not turned off
- What colors work best online
- Why your newsletter’s type won’t work on the Web, and what to do about it
Reach Readers Online manual. 76 pages. Get your order today — and pay no shipping — when you download this digital learning tool. U.S. $47.50
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