Monday, September 29, 2014
We need to take our eyes off ourselves when writing.
Not too long ago, my mother stopped going to the hairdresser she had been using for years. Telling me about it, she said that her decision had nothing to do with the woman’s abilities.
“She just talks about herself all the time,” my mother said. “She never asks me about my own life.”
Just like the customers in that salon, our web users don’t want to hear us talk about ourselves all the time either.
But when we write content for our web pages, we tend to gravitate towards what we know – and that’s our department isn’t it? Our offerings, our services, our classes.
The reader needs to know the facts, so why not deliver, right?
Web users are looking for benefits
We have to be careful though, because successful web content is written in a very different style. Web users are looking for benefits, and when someone lands on your page you have just seconds to convince them to stay. You do this by writing content that shows you care about helping them with their questions, their needs, and even with their pain.
Speak to your readers directly
Unfortunately, much of our existing web content is focused on us. We may use the word “we” a lot or just mention our department over and over again. Or, if we do talk about our readers, we sometimes throw in impersonal words like: “the student,” and “him, her, and they.”
Here’s a snippet of content I’ve written, and you’ll see what I mean:
I've highlighted the we-focused and impersonal content in yellow. And there's a large dose of it, isn't there? The good news is that content like this can easily be reworked.
Talk to the user just like they were right in front of you
Words like “you,” “your," and "you're" are encouraged. So, here’s what you could do to the above web content to make it more compelling:
Focus on the user and not on the department
See? That was easy. With a little practice, your content will flow more freely and feel more natural. And your users just may thank you by staying on your pages longer and engaging with your content.
After all, it was written just for them.Posted at 9:16 AM | Permalink
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
“Could I get a button on this page?”
This is one of the most-asked questions by our Web Manager users. And with buttons continuing to be highly sought after, it’s time you got the inside scoop on when to use them—and when not to.
In the old days, buttons were often used to decorate webpages and make them more graphically “exciting.” For example, here’s a screenshot of Liberty’s main website from 2002:
But now, buttons are less about decoration (what looks good) and more about design and function (what works well).
It’s widely accepted that buttons represent an action, such as “Pay Now,” “Create an Account,” or “Save.” The action is more than just navigating from point A to point B. Instead, it tends to let the user do something based on user input. For example, clicking a “Buy Tickets” button should reserve a ticket for you, decrease the number of available tickets, and charge your credit card using the info you provided. That's an action.
Take a look at the new Jerry Falwell Library website. The green “Go” button works here because clicking it performs a search (the action) based on your search terms (user input). The result is a custom search result page that didn’t exist before. On the other hand, a text link works best to access a pre-made page of search tips.
Colored, underlined text is the most recognized visual cue for a link between two pieces of content or pages. It’s so common that users often ignore buttons in favor of text links. That’s why buttons don’t work well as page-to-page links.
We tested this a few years ago on the former LUO site shown below. Users were asked to locate HelpDesk information or intensives, but the majority of them had trouble because they ignored the buttons and jumped straight to the text links below them.
Image buttons don’t work well for search engine optimization (SEO) either. More links pointing to your page means more potential ranking power for that page. But the text used in the link is also important. If the text “School of Religion” links to the SOR page, then that page can build search credibility on that term or topic. This is lost when buttons are used.
So there's the inside scoop on buttons vs. text links.
To request a button for your page, contact your Marketing project coordinator to get started. We can help you determine if a button will work for your page!
And join us on Twitter to be a part of our growing web content community.Posted at 2:47 PM | Permalink
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Here's why we say that text should not be put in images on the web:
When the text performs a function, such as a header or title, it should not be in an image because it needs to be searchable for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and available to users with screen readers. Neither of these can happen when text is buried in an image.
Buttons and images are two different things: Buttons are clickable links with a specific "button design" that users expect and know, whereas images are often not expected to be clickable by users. Images are meant to serve as visual/design appeal and should not be used as buttons. If you would like a button added to your page, you can request one from the Marketing Department.
Images are great for adding visual appeal to a page, and sometimes it is also okay if they have some text in them that only adds design appeal and does not take the place of pertinent text.
Posted at 11:04 AM | Permalink
Monday, August 11, 2014
Web page titles and headers have a simple but important function. They tell readers and search engines what the page or section is about. That part’s pretty simple, but there are a few tips that will make your page titles and headings better.
The page title should briefly and accurately describe the purpose of the page. It should use keywords that your audience will know and understand.
These are the heading formats (heading 1, heading 2, or heading 3, etc., also known as h1, h2, and h3) that you use on your page to organize and divide it into sections.
Monday, July 28, 2014
When it comes to social media, we all want to use it to the best of our ability. So for this Web Manager Blog post we decided to give some tips on how to improve your use of social media. Don't hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about your accounts or you can reference the Social Media Policy.
1. The Shorter the Better. Research shows that posts that are around 100 characters tend to see better reach than longer posts (meaning that many of you quit reading this after 100 characters).
2. Post Consistently. When people see an account that has up to date information, photos, and posts they are more likely to follow/like! But, don’t over post! Find the happy medium.
3. Ask Good Questions. If you want to increase engagement, ask questions that people will really answer. It's always a great idea to respond as quickly as possible.
4. For Facebook, constantly check insights. Look at what posts have the highest reach and who they are reaching. Then tailor future posts to those people based on what has worked in the past.
5. DON’T post identical content to Facebook and Twitter. These two social networks are very different. Find out what works for each respective platform and post unique posts to each of them.Posted at 11:47 AM | Permalink