Web Writing That Works!

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Should I take this workshop?

How it works

Benefits

Agenda for the in-person workshop

Agenda for the online workshop

Comments from participants

Your instructor

Schedule and locations

Attention, corporate managers!

Web writing that works

Is your style electronic?

Learn how to make your Web text easy to navigate, easy to understand, and easy to use.

This workshop shows how moving text from paper to the screen demands a new approach.

Learn to write the Web way, responding to your visitors with all the give-and-take of a conversation, replying to their questions, addressing their needs, and assuaging their doubts.

When you write hot text, you get your point across quickly, provoke action, and satisfy your toughest audience--your customers.

Should I take this workshop?

Yes

  • If you write regularly for the web, you should take this course, to get over habits you learned unconsciously when you started turning out words on paper. You'll also get solutions to common problems you've wrestled with, over and over, when creating content for the web.
  • If you about to write for the web, you'll learn a new approach to style, and, along the way, you'll create good samples for a portfolio, for job hunting.

No

  • If you want a course on HTML.
  • If you want a course on designing the layout for your pages.
  • If you really aren't interested in writing.

Our participants come from various backgrounds, according to a survey of 500 recent attendees:

  • Content editors (10%)
  • Journalists and public relations folks (16%)
  • Marketing copywriters (14%)
  • Technical writers (31%)
  • Instructional designers (9%)
  • Managers who are trying to persuade their teams to adopt this new approach to text (12%)
  • Others, who have their own reasons for learning to write for the Web (8%)

Payoff: You'll find you can write faster, and more persuasively, after this course. Your words will really work on the screen. When surveyed, your site visitors will judge your text quick, efficient, and transparent.

Caution: This is not a theoretical course. You get hands-on experience with dozens of new writing techniques. And this is not a course in tagging, so you will not be exploring HTML, XML, or any particular software. This workshop concentrates on text.

How it works

You learn by doing a lot of writing after brief lectures, focused discussions, and group critiques of the prose on current Web sites.

Drawing on contemporary research into Web usability, reading comprehension, and user psychology, our extensive handout provides you with practical guidelines that you can follow on the job.

You get detailed advice, diagrams, before-and-after examples, quotes from the research, and practical challenges.

And the handouts work, later, as a reference when you need to look up a tactic, or review the citations to get evidence in an argument with your team.

There are two versions of this workshop. The in-person workshop runs two full days. Online, the workshop takes six weeks.

Just for you: If you want a whole team to take the class, we can customize the examples and challenges so that they closely parallel the text your people are already creating. We get a lot of laughs, and some soul-searching, when participants see our imitations of what already exists on your web.

Benefits

By the end of the workshop, you will be able to make your prose brief, scannable, well chunked, easy to understand, and easy to access through menus. When you complete this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Articulate the reasons why writing for Web delivery requires a different style than writing for paper.
  • Reduce a paper document's length by 50% for web delivery
  • Use titles, heads, and subheads to help users locate information quickly
  • Write the text of links so users really know what the target page contains
  • Craft links that appear within running text so they add to, rather than take away from, the idea
  • Provide meta information that both humans and search engines can use
  • Reorganize individual paragraphs for faster access to the main ideas
  • Restructure sentences to reduce the cognitive burden on the reader
  • Articulate the page and the site's structure by improving the text of menus

Agenda for the in-person workshop

Day One .

  • Cutting text that was originally written for paper.
  • Shortening your paragraphs, sentences, and phrases.
  • Deleting fluff.
  • Moving tangential materials into linked pages.
  • Make your text easy to scan.
  • Making titles and headings meaningful for the user.
  • Highlighting important terms in your text.
  • Cook up links text that your users will click.
  • Making clear what people will get if they click.
  • Making the link the emphatic element.
  • Providing depth and breadth through plentiful links.
  • Establishing credibility through outbound links.
  • Making links accessible for people with special needs.

Day Two

  • Creating paragraphs that work as discrete elements in an object-oriented world.
  • Unifying a paragraph around a central idea.
  • Where to put the main point.
  • What to do with context.
  • Don't make me guess what you mean.
  • Limiting the number of clauses per sentence.
  • Blowing up noun trains.
  • Avoiding ambiguities, passives, and negatives.
  • When to scroll, and when not to.
  • Eliminating confusing material that makes visitors scratch their heads in confusion.
  • Make meaningful menus
  • Creating headings that also work as menu items.
  • Organizing menus so they make sense to your users.
  • Offering multiple routes to the same information.
  • Displaying several levels at once.
  • Confirming that the users have arrived on target.
  • Putting it all together: final exam.

Agenda for the online workshop

Week 1: Trim that text!

  • Cutting text that was originally written for paper.
  • Shortening your paragraphs, sentences, and phrases.
  • Deleting fluff.
  • Moving tangential materials into linked pages.

Week 2: Make your text easy to scan.

  • Making titles and headings meaningful for the user.
  • Highlighting important terms in your text.
Week 3: Cook up links that your users will click.
  • Writing link text that your users will click.
  • Making clear what people will get if they click.
  • Making the link the emphatic element.
  • Providing depth and breadth through plentiful links.
  • Establishing credibility through outbound links.
  • Making links accessible for people with special needs.

Week 4: Chunk those paragraphs.

  •   Designing paragraphs as individual objects
  • Unifying a paragraph around a central idea.
  • Where to put the main point.
  • What to do with context.

Week 5: Don't make me guess what you mean.

  • Reducing cognitive burdens on your visitors.
  • Limiting the number of clauses per sentence.
  • Blowing up noun trains.
  • Avoiding ambiguities, passives, and negatives.
  • When to scroll, and when not to.

Week 6: Make meaningful menus.

  • Creating headings that also work as menu items.
  • Writing menus that make sense to your users.
  • Offering multiple routes to the same information.
  • Displaying several levels at once.
  • Confirming that the users have arrived on target.
  • Final exam.

Comments from participants (anonymous evaluations at UCSC)

  • The course handout book was very useful and will be a resource I refer to in the future.
  • The instructor offered a thorough explanation about principles of writing for the web and excellent theoretical information combined with practical tips and challenging exercises.
  • I'm impressed by the content and delivery. The materials will be very useful for applying to my job--exactly what I wanted.
  • The instructor was well qualified and a good communicator. The printed class materials were the most comprehensive of any class I have taken to date.
  • Presentation was great.
  • The instructor was very informative. The course material was well developed.
  • This course is amazing by the way it is organized and presented by Dr. Jonathan Price. The materials are practical, educational, and logical.

Your instructor

Dr. Jonathan Price teaches web writing, information architecture, content management, and XML at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the University of New Mexico, the Society for Technical Communication, and many major corporations. Jonathan and his wife Lisa are writers and editors for sites such as AOL, Disney, Hewlett Packard, Intuit, and KBKids. Lisa and Jonathan have written The Best of Online Shopping, and Hot Text: Web Writing that Works.

Schedule and locations

In-person: Writing web text, X489.6 Business Administration, University of California, Santa Cruz, October 25-26, Cupertino, CA

Online: JER Online Workshops, open registration

Attention, Corporate Managers!

If you have a group of people who are all writing the same kind of materials, we can customize the course, so that it reflects common problems that your people face. Examples seem familiar; exercises resemble their day-to-day work. Result: they can see, immediately, how the course can help them do their jobs.

Resources on web writing that works

Guidelines like those in the course

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Web Writing that Works!
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  2004 Jonathan and Lisa Price
The Communication Circle
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