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February 15, 2009

MKTG 101: Web Content Should Serve Visitor Needs

Some new Twitter users want to help me get rich, find peace with my life and help me tap my inner invisible pink unicorn to be spiritually one with the universe. I know this because they post links telling me they can make this happen if I buy their books and CD's or read their blogs. They just never tell me exactly HOW this is supposed to happen.

January 11, 2009

2 Top 5 Lists = 1 Top Ten List: My most read Web Development Blog entries from 2008

Now that the New Year has been rung in, it seems that the meme of the moment is to blog about the year in review. So I thought I'd follow suit. I looked over my blog entries to see if I'd trended towards any new themes for 2008. While I have written more on social media this year (who hasn't?) I quickly noted that my topics overall continued to range across a wide array of Web related subjects. Next I looked at my stats to see which articles were getting the most traffic and comments.

October 21, 2008

Afraid of outbound links? Don't be.

"The site looks great. But could you take out the links? I'm afraid people will follow them before they apply to our program/sign up for our event/read the installation instructions/etc." I don't hear this as often as I once did, but it still comes up often enough that it's worth addressing. So today I'll try to dispel some myths about Web stickiness and outbound links.

July 23, 2008

Blogs: The Many Voices of a University

Sunday afternoon I skibbled off to Atlantic City to attend EduWeb 2008, a conference for Web development professionals in higher education.

May 04, 2008

5 reasons your blog should have an editorial policy

While the medium is different, blogs have much in common with magazines. They're published periodically, can accept subscriptions (via RSS feeds), may (or may not) accept advertising and typically focus on a particular topic or niche. If you blog, you have some notion of your topical area in your head, but have you defined it for your readers? If not, it may be time to take a page from the magazines and define a clear editorial policy for your blog.

February 26, 2008

Wayfinding within your Web site

In Your home page is NOT your index; it's your store front, I discussed some of the goals of homepage design and navigation. Today we'll consider how users navigate within the site. As Wayne correctly surmised when commenting on that entry, the pages inside your site are like the aisles or departments within a store. Each page needs to be identified so that users know both where they are and where they can go.

January 16, 2008

Your home page is NOT your index; it's your store front

Space. Designers want to preserve it and clients want to fill it up. Whether you're a designer, a writer or a client you've all participated in this debate. What goes on the home page and what does not?

January 11, 2008

Tips for Nonprofits Meme

Elizabeth Able, of Able Reach Arts and Web Development, recently started a blog meme in support of nonprofits that have an online presence. She asks that we write one tip on ways nonprofits can benefit from having an online presence and have others do the same.

December 26, 2007

Web Content: Not just YOUR words and pictures

If they read what you write, they may also want to read what you read. Webmasters and bloggers know this. That's why we'll embed links within our text, build pages with links to recommended sites and/or add linkblogs to our side bars. In a world where most of us don't have the time to research and write everything we'd like to share, such resources add value to our existing content and give readers guidance on where to look for additional information.

December 10, 2007

Voice and Tone: Writing to reflect your personality as well as your message (Part 2)

When I first broached this topic in October, I wrote about tone. Today, I'll focus on voice, that certain aspect of writing that conveys the personality and/or style of the writer. Unlike tone -- which is geared to your goal and audience -- voice is about you, the writer. Just as your speaking voice remains recognizable under different circumstances -- whether you're reading stories to small children or arguing about the gift return policy at the mall -- so, too should your written voice.

November 14, 2007

A picture is worth a thousand words, but that's not always enough

How to add captions to images in Photoshop On the Web it is preferable to place your caption in the HTML. If that won't work and your captions are long, you should also link to a place providing a description of the image and an alternative rendering of the text. Colleagues of mine are involved in a project that involves adding captions to photographs. Like many of you, they aren't full-time designers and haven't spent a great deal of time using Photoshop. While they know how to crop and resize photos, they've not yet worked with type. For those...

October 11, 2007

Voice and Tone: Writing to reflect your personality as well as your message (Part 1)

Last week someone posted a question to the WordNerds group regarding the importance of voice and tone in writing. In particular she wanted to know how to convey the importance of voice and tone to colleagues who aren't professional writers. Not having covered this topic previously I thought I'd give it a go.

September 07, 2007

Linkbait: Tasty morsels to entice readers

It sounds nefarious doesn't it? Makes one think of "bait and switch" or that run-down old bait store by the lake—the one where they store the containers of nightcrawlers in the same cooler as the egg salad sandwiches. Blech.

August 21, 2007

University Main Web Homepage On-line Discussion

University Marketing and Communications is seeking additional community input as it continues its multi-year process of reviewing the university's main homepage, which was introduced, with slight variations, along with the new university logo in 2004.

May 15, 2007

Blogging your campus communiqués=good customer service

Graduating law students— more prepared than ever for life after Case. I'm forever telling people that they should get a blog. "You could use it to make announcements, publish procedures, respond to questions, share best practices…and it's easy to use." "No, we don't have time to write that sort of stuff." Maybe you do, maybe you don't. But if your job has a customer service component, you may be wasting your time if you're not blogging. You're also missing a great opportunity to share your advice with your target audience. CSO Blog: A Case Study Usually when I give...

April 25, 2007

Converting Word documents to HTML

While I write my own copy for this blog, and some of my other sites, much of what I post on the Web is written by others. This material comes to me in a variety of formats, from Open Office to .pdf files, but most of it is in Microsoft Word, and all of it needs to be converted to HTML. There are a variety of ways to do this, but I'll just review three, two common approaches and my preferred method.

March 28, 2007

Writing to be understood by your audience

One of our campus Web maintainers recently asked if our department advocated writing to a certain reading level. I responded that while "fours years below the level of your audience" is a decent rule of thumb, the most important thing is to write clearly.

January 11, 2007

From HTML tables to Flickr: How do you archive your photographs?

I first got my paws on a digital camera when I was working for Development Programs. My plan was to take photos of events and places on campus so that I could use those photos on the Web sites I built for the department. This turned out to be rather useful, but also time-consuming.

January 03, 2007

New Year, New Copyright Date?

This is also the time of year when people ask me if they should now change the copyright date on the bottom of their Web sites. The short answer is no; don't change the copyright date unless you've made other changes to the site and are using a multi-year format such as © 2004-2006.

December 05, 2006

A picture is worth a thousand words, more or less

A few weeks ago our project team was reviewing beta version .95 of Web site X, when we realized that we each had different reactions to some of the photos used in the project. While person A felt that photo 1 invoked a certain mood, person B felt something else. Given that site X requires a certain amount of precision we decided to explore other options such as purchasing stock photos pertinent to the topic. Today Greg Szorc commented on the forums about a photo choice on another Web site. In this case Greg and I had entirely different...

November 16, 2006

Using CSS to deliver Web content to different media types

Earlier this week Jeremy Smith wrote Delivering Web Content to Mobile Devices in which he discussed some of the different options, and concluded that by using CSS, one can configure pages for handhelds just as easily as one can for print or other media options.

November 13, 2006

A writer's obligations: ethics, law and pragmatism, Part 3: Pragmatism

The Ford lecture site asks the reader to register and prpvides additional information to help the reader to decide whether or not to attend. While I'll probably post additional entries on ethics, today we'll discuss what I expect will be the simplest chapter in this series, pragmatism. When I think of applying pragmatism to our Web development strategies, I think of taking a practical approach that examines our options in regard to their intended consequences. In particular I want to ensure that our choices support our goals. I discussed goals earlier in the Planning Your Web site tutorial, but...

October 27, 2006

A writer's obligations: ethics, law and pragmatism, Part 2a: Ethics

Last week I promised you I'd write about ethics and the Web. Ever since I've been wondering if I bit off more than I could chew and have been trying to find a way to approach this rather broad topic.

October 25, 2006

I had a good experience at the BMV: Customer Service on the Web

Last weekend I noticed that the temporary tags on my new (to me) VW were going to expire Tuesday. I quickly went into the house to check the mailbox to see if my new title had arrived yet. It had not. So Monday morning, with one day to spare, I hopped online to find out what steps I would need to take to register my car without this important document. Envisioning a series of errands involving the seller, notaries, and visits to various offices, I was happy to learn that the process was actually quite simple and that all...

October 13, 2006

Web writers: What are we? Journalists? Marketers? Information Providers? Opinion makers? Scholars?

One of our bloggers wrote me this week with some questions regarding the choices we make in the content we include and the responsibilities that may affect those choices. As I was responding to his questions, it occurred to me that these choices are really determined by the goal of our Web site or blog, and the role we play as writers. Today I would like to explore the different types of writers that may be posting content online, and what their roles or responsibilities may be. In a future entry I'll discuss how these roles can impact our...

May 05, 2006

Taking over the world, or at least reaching out to it

Screen capture from Riding in Cars with Girls Earlier this year I discovered a new band, Moi Caprice, from Denmark. My experience in listening to and acquiring their music reminded me of the power our Web sites can have in reaching out to the world at large. It also demonstrates that even a site with some (minor) design flaws can be successful if it incorporates the right elements. What follows is the process I took from first hearing the music to unwrapping an envelope from Denmark and inserting my new tunes into my Mac. When I first heard Moi Caprice...