Articles

Our articles cover a range of topics on writing for the web. Accessibility is a common focus because not a lot is written on the topic from a writer’s point of view.

Most recent articles

Info and relationships – accessibility for web writers

Use HTML tags to identify certain types of information and show content structure. For instance, headings need the appropriate heading-level tags to reflect the heading hierarchy. In this article, we outline the HTML tags web writers need to know how to use.

Text alternatives – some examples

When writing text alternatives for images, you need to consider the role of the image, and the context in which it is used. In this article, we provide some examples.

Text alternatives – a decision tree

To help web writers write better text alternatives for images, we’ve produced a decision tree. It asks three main questions, guiding writers to decide whether they need a blank, short or long text alternative.

Text alternatives – accessibility for web writers

Whenever you use an image on a web page, you need to provide a text alternative—a text version of the information or function provided by the image—except when the image is purely decorative. Text alternatives are one of the most basic requirements for accessibility, but also one of the most misunderstood.

Navel-gazing websites will get you nowhere

What happens when organisations are too inward-looking? It soon becomes obvious to your clients that they are not your most important consideration. If this happens on your website, don’t expect them to stay long.

Content approval – is your process working?

Content management systems have made some aspects of managing web content easier. However, many organisations struggle with content approval processes. This article looks at common problems and solutions.

Writing text alternatives for maps

When you use images of maps on your website you need to provide text alternatives. Text alternatives help people access your content when they cannot see or use images. This article discusses how to write text alternatives for simple and more complex maps and provides some examples.

Language and the role of the web writer

Some web writers object to using plain language, saying their role is to educate and expand users’ vocabulary. That’s a poor argument unless you’re developing learning materials, or working an encyclopedia website. Web content needs to communicate clearly, using a style and form appropriate for the web.

Don’t use ‘Humpty Dumpty’ words

When organisations’ jargon uses common words in a special way, their customers are likely to misunderstand them. This is an example from a local government website where the word ‘pergola’ is used in a restricted sense, as defined by state legislation.

Web content and the burden of time

If you rush to put content online you’ll find it’s nearly always longer than it needs to be. It takes time to edit and cut out the words that aren’t doing any real work. Sadly, web writers often don’t spend that time, and users simply won’t!

The struggle to publish useful content

A common question in our web writing workshops is ‘How do we stop people publishing content we know no one will ever use?’ It’s not easy, but we offer some suggestions in this article.

The 5 Es of content usability

I’ve long been a fan of Whitney Quesenbery’s 5 Es of usability. They’re a great way to explain usability to clients, designers and developers. I think the 5 Es can also help us explain content usability.

Don’t make me read (useless words)

If you’ve ever watched people read online, you’ll know they often don’t read closely. Most people scan-read a lot of the time. In our usability studies, they tell us they skim because they just want the information they need. They can’t be bothered with the rest.

Don’t forget the ‘C’ in WCAG – a resolution for the new year

With the likely adoption of WCAG 2.0 (the second version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) in Australia, organisations might be reviewing their website design and templates to meet the new standards in 2010. What they might forget though, is to check their content or update the skills of those who produce it.