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.

WCAG 2.1 summary for web writers

This summary is for web content managers, editors and writers. It's limited to level A and AA guidelines relevant to content production.

Accessible content for social media

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.

Writing content for responsive design

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 for images - part 2

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.

3 useful tools for web writers

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.

Relying on PDF online? 6 reasons to stop

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.

Haiku for Global Accessibility Awareness Day

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.

When is an image 'purely decorative'?

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.

Managing distributed publishing - 9 solutions

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.

Reducing reliance on PDF documents online

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.

Better science writing for the web

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 for web writers

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.

Beyond the content audit

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.

5 tips for writing better microcontent

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.

A-Z of better web writing

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.

Don't let your CMS wreck your content - part 1

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.

Writing for the web versus print

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.

7 Cs of quality web content

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.

Is your content fit for social media linking?

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.

Abbreviations - accessibility for web writers

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.

Colour - accessibility for web writers

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.

Text alternatives - a decision tree

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.

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.

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.

Don't use 'Humpty Dumpty' words

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.

Web content and the burden of time

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!

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. 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.

The trouble with page titles

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.

Getting the planning process right

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.

Content still king? Not in WCAG 2.0

The new accessibility guidelines are disappointing. They do little to foster quality content. They seem weaker on content standards than the earlier version.

Don't publish online just because you can

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.

Two words that need to go under

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.