Writing for the Web

UNITYAug 3, 2012
Victoria Lim vicki.writes@gmail.com
Debora Wenger  debora.wenger@gmail.com

Online readers want …
_________________ _________________ _________________ _________________ _________________
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Online readers want …
To go places and get things done – solution hunting Coverage that‟s comprehensive, but specific – WIIFM Brevity – 20% of words read on average
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How does this change the writing? _________________ _________________ _________________ _________________ _________________
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Online writing style
 Short paragraphs  Highlighted keywords (links  Bulleted lists or bold)  Use white  Subheads space

 Inverted pyramid
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Incremental reporting
„Here‟s the latest‟ Stress what just happened Get „today‟ or specific time references in first sentence Get to the point
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NewsOK.com

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Redefine (breaking) news
What was the old definition of breaking news? Most now subscribe to the MSNBC definition Stories that won‟t make the paper How much is too little?
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Once is not enough
Keep the updates coming Make it easy for me to see what‟s new What is the user looking for now?
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Updating stories
How do you do it?

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1:26p

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1:32p

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1:33p

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2:28p

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4:45p

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Web news strategies
The write-thru – traditional story format with continuous updates Quick-list – at a glance view of latest news or most important developments News blog Mapping application
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Ushahidi

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Crowdsourcing

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SEO & headlines
SEO = Search Engine Optimization The State of the News Media 2012 found that 32% of people get news digitally through a key word search
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Eyetracking heat map

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SEO: Search Engine Optimization Word choice and location matter -Choose key words -Get key words in headline and high up in the text
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“Google” Writing
Headlines: Give it to us straight – be descriptive, not cute & clever It‟s not a tease! Be specific
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What makes a good headline…
Most interesting word/phrase near start Location matters Do “Google gut check”

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What makes a good headline… Simple, straightforward and active Emphasize a twist or compelling fact Passes the WIIFM test
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Take the test!
Rank the headlines you‟re about to see A rank of 1 is the headline that drove the most traffic; a rank of 5 drove the least
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Take the test!
Shipwreck yields $500m haul How to adjust an HDTV Apple iPhone gets govt OK National Lampoon launching online video network Camera phone‟s inventor awed by its impact
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Jakob Nielsen’s headline tips …
Short Rich in information scent Front loaded Understandable out of context Predictable (Check out useit.com)
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Nielsen’s top site

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Why headlines matter?
It drives “clicks” – gets people to see/hear your work A well-written headline can easily double the amount of readers for your story
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Online Ethics
Concerns?
Speed

Online Ethics
Concerns?
Speed
Verification

Privacy
Plagiarism

SPJ Code of Ethics
Seek truth and report it Minimize harm Act independently Be accountable
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Shameless promotion

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