From time to time, Jakob Nielsen does an Alertbox report that focuses specifically on web writing.
He did that again in early June with “Writing Style for Print vs. Web,” where he repeats the still often ignored advice that people who come to websites are focused on taking specfic actions, with a low tolerance for anything that keeps that from happening.
On college and university websites, the “blockers” often include the following:
- Dense text without subheads and bullet points that are impossible to scan quickly.
- Higher education jargon that “normal human beings” outside the world of higher education are not likely to understand. That’s especially prevelant on financial aid and academic department pages.
- Online inquiry forms that become small demographic surveys designed for the benefit of the university rather than the person who just wants to make contact for more information.
In this Alertbox, Nielsen adds another good example of text that works in print but won’t work on the web. The print example is “Coping with the Tall Traveler’s Curse.” To see his recommended change for the web, visit the Alertbox column at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/print-vs-online-content.html
To elevate the presentation of your web content, bring my “Writing Right for the Web” seminar to your campus. Contact me now at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting to schedule a session for September or October.