Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Steph Hay’s Writing Content for Usability webinar. Steph’s main question (and the one we’ve been asking ourselves for years) is “Why does the Internet still lack great content?”
Steph’s short answer is that most of us rely too much on design to catch the attention of readers, rather than the content we write. For a few hours, Steph talked about focusing on the following three criteria to improve your writing:
- Focus on your audience, medium and network. Start by figuring out to whom you are sending the message. Instead of considering everyone who might drop by your site, focus on one ideal person and directly speak to him or her. Then, determine how you want them to feel. Consider how your network will describe you—and then influence your target audience. Once you are satisfied with your content, capitalize on other communication channels to tell your story.
- Write credible content. Obviously, usable content has to say something substantive. Too often, we get caught up in filling space rather than creating something that will reach our audience. Remember that credible content is meaningful, helpful, results-oriented and confident. Here are a few tips for achieving credible content:
- Meaningful: Take time to ensure that your writing actually says something. Remove buzz words and industry jargon and tell your audience exactly what you want them to hear.
- Helpful: Don’t assume users know what to do once they reach your site. You have to tell them what you want them to do!
- Results-Oriented: Explain what awesome things your users will get from you. Writing a list of what you do isn’t enough to get results.
- Confident: Be careful not to over promote. Showcase confidence in your work while being humble.
- Achieve consistency. Content is consistent when it is uniform in structure, style and voice.
- Structure: Always lead with the most important information, include what is relevant, and use keywords throughout the site.
- Style: Make sure every page of the site uses the same format for capitalizations, punctuation, headings, etc.
- Voice: Always write in a genuine tone. Read your content out loud and then rewrite anything that sounds questionable.
What’s your definition of great content? Let us know in the comments below.