Two new standards are set to improve the quality of digital content. Are you ready to meet these standards?
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.
Many equate plain language with plain words. While plain words are important, plain language is much more than this.
This summary is for web content managers, editors and writers. It's limited to level A and AA guidelines relevant to content production.
Have you been advised to replace PDF documents with Word, because Word is more accessible?
Do you know how to make your social media posts accessible? In this article, we discuss ways to reduce accessibility barriers when writing posts, sharing links, and posting images and video.
If you're writing for the web, you're writing for responsive design. In this article, we offer some tips to get your content working well on a range of screen sizes and orientations.
Long descriptions are text alternatives for complex or detailed images. In this article we look at some examples: charts and graphs, maps and plans, infographics, diagrams and technical drawings.
In this article, we look at the role of long descriptions for images. Why you need them and how to implement them.
Here are 3 free tools that are simple to use. They'll help you write better content for your organisation's website, intranet or blog.
Want clean, healthy web content? Protect it from 3 common diseases.
Many organisations are stuck on PDFs, while systems that help us manage information in flexible formats are not being used. We’re blissfully unaware of the cost of locking up content in PDFs.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day aims to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility. To mark the occasion we created a set of haiku for web writers, based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Accessibility guidelines require us to let assistive technologies ignore 'purely decorative' images. Sounds simple enough, but sometimes it's hard to decide when an image is purely decorative. In this article we argue that blank text alternatives are often best.
Would you believe that washing machines can help you clean up your content? They can. Not literally, of course. But metaphorically, they're a great help.
Some common problems arise when organisations use a distributed publishing model for their website or intranet. In this article, we outline 9 ways you can start managing these problems.
Distributed publishing can pose significant challenges that affect the quality of your content. In this article, we look at eight of these challenges.
Some organisations publish large amounts of their online content as PDF documents. But PDF is rarely chosen because it's been assessed as the best format for the content. In this article we discuss ways to reduce reliance on PDF.
Scientists who write content for their organisation's websites might resist advice to write in plain language. Some find it hard to avoid 'scientese'. This article shows advice from science journal style guides to encourage scientists to write more readable science for the web.
User story cards can help you identify your users and their tasks. They're an easy way to do a little planning to help guide your writing.
If you want quality online content, you need to do more than a content audit. You need to understand the people, process and cultural issues that resulted in poor content.
Microcontent is small-scale content often acting as a label for content that isn’t visible on the screen. It needs to work hard to communicate and connect with users. We discuss 5 tips to get your microcontent into good shape.
We need a text alternative for informative or functional images. But what should we do when the image also needs a caption? In this article we discuss the options.
If you want to write better web content, here's an A-Z that should help. It covers attributes of quality content and other issues web writers should be aware of.
After working on Australian university websites for 18 years, I saw the same problems over and over. Three simple idioms capture them well.
If your organisation still takes a print or document-first approach to content, here are some tips to help you repurpose content for the web.
A CMS can create problems for your content if you let it generate file names or text alternatives for images. This article discusses system behaviour to watch out for.
Content management systems (CMS) make publishing and managing web content easier. But some systems have limiting features, or are set up in ways that aren't helpful. In this article, we look at page titles and CMS behaviour to watch out for.
Good writing is good writing, regardless of the medium. So what makes writing for the web different to writing for print? In this article, we discuss one key difference — technical knowledge.
If you want to write better content for your website, intranet or blog, aim for these 7 qualities. They're based on the classic '7 Cs of communication', reworked for communicating online.
Tips to help you write social media content that is faster and easier to read, and more visible on social media channels.
Are you aware of how your pages look when someone shares a link to them on social media? In this article we provide some tips on making sure your content is labelled well for social link sharing.
Use icons, and particularly their text alternatives, consistently throughout your content.
Provide a pronunciation for words that are spelt the same, but mean different things when pronounced in different ways.
The accessibility guidelines require grade 9 readability for content. Otherwise we should provide supplementary content (visuals, for example), or an easy-to-read summary.
The accessibility guidelines require we expand or define any abbreviations in our content. Often it's even better to avoid using abbreviations, especially acronyms and initialisms.
The accessibility guidelines require that we explain or define any jargon, idioms or unusual words in our content. Often it's even better to avoid using those words.
If you use foreign language words or phrases in your content, you need to identify the foreign language using the lang attribute.
Use headings to organise the sections or topics within an article or document. Headings break content into more manageable chunks, making a page or topic easier to understand.
Write descriptive headings, sub-headings and labels. This will help users understand what your content is about, decide if it is relevant and go directly to the information they are looking for.
Write links that clearly describe their purpose or content. Meaningful links are vital for making content more accessible to people with disabilities.
Write a descriptive title for your web pages and any documents you publish online. You'll help people find your content if your title is meaningful to them.
Avoid opening links in new windows. If you must, include a warning within the link.
Use styled text rather than an image of text wherever it's technically possible. An image of text is allowed when users can customise the text style or an image is essential.
Use colours that offer a sufficient contrast ratio between text and background colours, unless the text is decorative, incidental or part of a logo.
Don't use images that flash more than three times per second unless the colours are dim enough to reduce the likelihood of causing a seizure.
Don't use colour alone to convey information because not everyone has normal colour vision. For most web writers, this means being careful about choosing images. But you may also need to be careful about applying colour to text.
Don't write instructions that rely on things that can only be seen (shape, size, screen location, orientation) or heard. If you do, some of your users won't be able to follow your instructions.
Use HTML tags to identify certain types of information and show content structure. For instance, use heading tags for heading. In this article, we outline the HTML tags web writers need to know how to use.
When writing text alternatives for images you need to consider the role of the image and the context in which it is used.
To help you write better text alternatives for images, our decision tree asks three main questions. It guides you in choosing a short, long or blank text alternative.
Text alternatives are one of the most basic requirements for accessibility, but also one of the most misunderstood.
Introduction to a 19-part series on accessibility for web writers, based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.
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.
Images of maps need a text alternative. This article discusses how to write text alternatives for simple and complex images of maps.
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.
When you use common words in a special way (jargon), your customers are likely to misunderstand you. This is an example from a local government website where the word 'pergola' is used in a restricted sense, as defined by state legislation.
If you rush to get content online you'll find it's nearly always longer than it needs to be. It takes time to edit out the words that aren't doing any work. Sadly, web writers often don't spend that time. And users simply won't!
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.
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.
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. They just want the information they need. They can’t be bothered with the rest.
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.
Writing good page titles seems challenging with only 60-70 characters to use. But the real trouble with page titles is we don't give them enough attention.
Web writers sometimes say there's no point planning content. Content approvers make so many changes that planning time is wasted. Sounds reasonable, except there's a flaw in the logic.
The new accessibility guidelines are disappointing. They do little to foster quality content. They seem weaker on content standards than the earlier version.
Publishing content online is fast, cheap and easy. That's one of the great things about the web, but also one of its downsides. Many websites heave and groan under the weight of too much low value content. Sadly, their users do too.
Lack of planning leads to content that lacks a focus or clear purpose. Asking the right questions before you start writing will help you write better content.
Should I blame journalists for the overuse of these two awful words: 'undertake' and 'undergo'? They're in news headlines and TV news stories every day. But they're also lurking on the web. Here's how to avoid using them in your online content.