Tuning Up Your

Now that you've planned your content, broken up your documents, decided on your essential messages, and designed your web pages, let's talk about writing the paragraphs, sentences, and words of your web content.

As you write, remember these three principles from Chapter 1:

• Good web writing is like a conversation.

• Good web writing answers people's questions.

• Good web writing lets people "grab and go."

As you write:

• Picture the people you are talking with. If you have personas, think of them as you write.

• Ask yourself: What would people ask me about this topic on the phone?

• Reply to them as if they were on the phone.

Writing informally is not "dumbing down"

Language changes over time. It always has. Standards for good writing also change over time. They always have.

Style in nineteenth-century novels differs from style in twentieth-century novels, which, in turn, differs from the emerging style of twenty-first-century novels.

You might keep photos and short descriptions of your personas on your cubicle corkboard or on your desk. If you are part of a team, the team might keep persona posters on the wall of the conference room that you use to review draft web content.

Similarly, people's expectations of appropriate style for information (instructions, notices, short essays) have changed over time. Over the past 100 years, writing style for communicating useful information has become much less formal. And that trend is accelerating with the web.

This is not "dumbing down"! It's communicating clearly. It's writing so that busy people can understand what you are saying the first time that they read it.

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