Writing for the Web

Alice Williams

I was able to attend another one of AIGA of Raleigh’s Lunch and Learn events. Writing for the Web is part of their Homegrown series. I find these workshops to be really helpful and the delicious Mediterranean food from Sitti probably doesn’t hurt. Our speaker for the day was Alice Williams of Hesketh – a firm in Raleigh specializing in web design and strategy.

We started the workshop with a six word personal statement, much like the one we did on the iMedia Professional Development Day with Ross Wade. The goal is to be concise, which is exactly what text on a website needs to be. Much of the discussion was based on the harsh reality that people don’t read text on websites. “The web is showing, not telling. If you don’t know who you are authentically, then you have nothing to show,” a quote from Alice’s presentation.

We also learned about establishing PET – persuasion, emotion and trust. A large part of employing these techniques in writing is tone. I learned a lot about tone that I hadn’t even thought about before. Tone can be mirroring mental models, content choice, word choice, connotation, sentence structure, information chunking and the list goes on.

We also talked about some user experience elements like F-patterns and the way that people look at websites. It’s important to make the text scannable – bullets are good for this, front load key information and integrate text and visuals.

My biggest take-away was a reminder to remember the call to action for the website. Sometimes I get so caught up in designing and making it look good that I forget to think about the most important part – what I want people to take away from the site. I enjoyed Alice’s presentation and definitely have some homework to do. She mentioned two books that I think will be worth checking out – The Ad Free Brand by Chris Grams and Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.

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