As writers, it’s easy for us to think that whatever topic has held our interest throughout the stages of research, synthesis, and composition will also pull our readers through to the end of whatever we’ve written. But that’s not the case. Many who come to this article may not even reach the end of this sentence, as the article “How People Read Online: Why You Won’t Finish This Article” explains.
So how can writers reach people who don’t read? Through scannability. Read More
If you’ve ever had your computer give you a readability score or a grade level for something you’ve written, you’ve run a readability formula. Readability formulas are easy to use and give you a number. This combination makes them seductive. But a number isn’t useful if it isn’t reliable, valid, or helpful.
In this article, we’ll explain how readability formulas work and give you seven reasons why you shouldn’t use them. We’ll also show you better ways to learn whether the people you want to reach can find, understand, and use your content. Read More
How do we know whether content is any good? This simple question does not have a simple answer. Yet, I think having a good answer would help us show our employers and clients why their content needs to improve and how their content compares to the competition’s. As a start toward an answer to this question, I offer a set of content quality checklists for seven different lenses through which we can view content. I see these checklists as the groundwork for content heuristics, which would enable us to do heuristic evaluations and competitive analyses efficiently. With good content heuristics, we could make a case for better content without painstakingly doing an analysis of all of the content up front. Imagine, making a case for better content quality in a few hours instead of a few weeks.
Many interactive projects address content quality only through a style guide. A style guide is helpful, but it isn’t enough. One problem is that a style guide often emerges at the end of an interactive project, capturing how a team handled certain content issues and how they intend to handle them moving forward. That doesn’t help much during the project. Another problem that often occurs is a company neglects maintenance of the style guide going forward. (For information about living style guides, read Letting Go of the Words by Ginny Redish. ) Finally, many Web style guides I’ve encountered address word choice, brand voice—and that’s about it. The scope of content quality is much broader. Read More