Easy to Scan 10 Top Tips for Web Writing at University of Sheffield
Searching for web writing guides at university websites was encouraging (I found quite a few and visited about 15 of them) and discouraging (several did not follow their own advice about how to present their content for rapid scanning and a quick visitor connection.)
The University of Sheffield won out for a simple reason: as soon as the page opens, visitors can scan 10 “On this page” points. If visitors have a preference for one point over another, no time is lost moving to the topic of most interest.
Too many pages, on the other hand, forced visitors to start reading to find out what was on the page. A serious mistake even if the actual content was important and accurate. Every web page should pass the 5-second scan test for first engagement. Sheffield easily does.
In a few cases, these were other mistakes:
- Font size was too small. “Don’t make them squint” is the best advice.
- Low contrast. Light black color on a white background is never a good idea
Good points that stood out from some other sites:
- Remind everyone right away that people visit websites to complete “tasks.” Focus on top tasks is critical. Reading a mission statement or a “welcome” message are not top tasks.
- Jargon is deadly. Be ruthless about eliminating it.
- Cut original copy by 50 percent. And then cut it again. Most web pages have far too much content.
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short. You know a sentence is getting too long when you add a semi-colon.
Speed on mobile… 2.0 seconds to first view, 5.1 seconds to full interactivity
Google PageSpeed Insights measures the time to first view on a mobile phone at 2.0 seconds… faster than most. Time to full interactivity was also fast at 5.1 seconds.
Website Carbon Calculator… yet another “Hurrah!”
Thanks to Gerry McGovern and his efforts to reduce “world wide waste” for the referral.
“This web page is cleaner than 86% of web pages tested.”
See how your website helps or hurts the climate. Test your website pages at “Website Carbon Calculator.”
Follow the Link of the Week…
Experience a strong, scannable introduction to important web writing points when you visit University of Sheffield “Writing for the Web.”
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