When writing for the web there are several things to keep in mind to make your content readable, scannable and accessible. The following are a few best practices to follow as you are writing content for your site.
Content is your front door and your handshake. It is how people find you and learn about you. It tells your story and builds connections to people.
Since content is the core of your web presence, give it the attention and focus it deserves. Don’t save it for last or make it the responsibility of someone who doesn’t understand what it requires.
Content is not for you. It is for your audience, whomever you have determined your audience to be. Thus, you should keep your audience in mind when shaping and supporting your content. If you care about your audience, care about your content.
These guidelines are not about HTML or other web markup and programming languages. They are also not about content management systems (CMS). A CMS is a tool that helps support an individual’s efforts to organize and manage content. It does not create or maintain content on its own. A CMS is not a content strategy. Your content goals should come before your content tools.
The golden rule: Think twice, publish once.
According to Kristina Halvorson, author of “Content Strategy for the Web,” content strategy “plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.“ In short, it’s how we make sure our content is worth both our time and our users’ time.
Here are some tactics for helping ensure you have a content strategy in place:
It can be hard to keep track of our web content. By creating and maintaining a content inventory—typically in the form of a spreadsheet—we have a way of looking at our website all at once.
A content inventory should include:
An editorial calendar is a way to ensure your website—whether it is a publication like a blog or a more traditional website—stays up to date. Aside from providing a framework for scheduling updates, an editorial calendar can also help you prioritize topics and themes and organize resources (writers, editors, developers, photographers, stakeholders, etc.).
Lisa Welchman, an authority on digital governance, defines it as a structure that “helps reduce web development risks by establishing clear web decision-making authority, extending web accountability to more senior levels of the organization, and improving web standards compliance.” In short, it’s the structure we create to ensure responsible management of our websites. With regard to web content, it prompts the following questions:
Tables in JumboPress should only be used to show data. Tables can also be used for formatting and layouts purposes, however JumboPress has the Page Builder tool which is a much more user friendly and flexible layout tool. Please go to the JumboPress manual to learn more.
When creating tables follow these best practices:
Before publishing a PDF to your website, take the time to consider whether that content needs to be in PDF format. Typically, a PDF should be reserved for a document that a user may need to print out (e.g. a form to fill out, a schedule meant for hanging on the wall, a promotional flyer for distribution).
If you publish a newsletter, avoid publishing it to the web solely in PDF format. This may discourage readership. PDF is a print format, not a web format. Encode your articles for the web or publish them in a blog.
All PDFs uploaded to the JumboPress system must be accessible. Adobe has a useful page that goes step by step on how to create an accessible PDF.
If you have any questions or would like more information about web content writing, content strategy or content management, please contact us.