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Topic: Writing

  • Art Direction and Design

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    Sure, your design’s composition is perfectly balanced, the typographical hierarchy works, and the contrast is bang on. But, when you step back and take a look, how does it make you feel? Does your design evoke the right emotion? Dan Mall explains the difference between art direction and design on the web and challenges us to do it again, this time with feeling.

  • Words that Zing

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    When someone consults a website, there is a precious opportunity not only to provide useful information but also to influence their decision. To make the most of this opportune moment, we must ensure that the site says or does precisely the right thing at precisely the right time. Understanding the rhetorical concept of kairos can help us craft a context for the opportune moment and hit the mark with appropriately zingy text.

  • You Can Get There From Here: Websites for Learners

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    “Content-rich” is not enough. Most websites are not learner-friendly. As an industry, we haven’t done our best to make our content-rich websites suitable for learning and exploration. Learners require more from us than keywords and killer headlines. They need an environment that is narrative, interactive, and discoverable. Amber Simmons tells how to begin creating rich content sites that invite and repay exploration and discovery.

  • Content Templates to the Rescue

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    As an industry, we’ve learned to plan our sites to achieve business goals and meet human needs while shipping on time and delivering compelling user experiences. Alas, despite all the sweat we pour into strategy sessions and GANTT charts, we still have to coax content out of our subject matter experts and get it onto every page of the site. This is where the strongest hearts grow frail, and even seasoned developers reach for Advil or something stronger. But help, in the form of content templates, is on the way. Seize the power.

  • Content-tious Strategy

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    Every website faces two key questions: 1. What content do we have at hand? 2. What content should we produce? Answering those questions is the domain of the content strategist. Alas, real content strategy gets as little respect today as information architecture did in 1995. MacIntyre defines the roles, tools, and value of this emerging user experience specialist.

  • The Discipline of Content Strategy

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    It’s time to stop pretending content is somebody else’s problem. If content strategy is all that stands between us and the next fix-it-later copy draft or beautifully polished but meaningless site launch, it’s time to take up the torch, time to make content matter. Halvorson tells how to understand, learn, practice, and plan for content strategy.

  • Writing Content that Works for a Living

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    Most web copy is still being written by people who aren’t writers and don’t have time. The good news? Anyone who touches copy can make a difference by insisting that every chunk of text on the site do something concrete.

  • Putting Our Hot Heads Together

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    The web is a conversation, but not always a productive one. Web discussions too often degenerate into whines, jabs, sour grapes, and one-upmanship. How can we transform discussion forums and comment sections from shooting ranges into arenas of collaboration?

  • The Cure for Content-Delay Syndrome

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    Clients love to write copy. Well, they love to plan to write it, anyhow. On most web design projects, content is the last thing to be considered (and almost always the last thing to be delivered). We’ll spend hours, weeks, even months, doing user scenarios, site maps, wireframes, designs, schemas, and specifications—but content?  It’s a disrespected line item in a schedule: “final content delivered.” Pepi Ronalds proposes a solution to this constant cause of project delays.

  • Greatest Copy Shot Ever Written

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    “Got Milk?”, “Don’t leave home without it”, “Good to the last drop.” You know these taglines and the products associated with them. So what makes a great copy shot? Is there a formula? And can understanding advertising help us write better web copy?

  • Reviving Anorexic Web Writing

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    Intelligent web content is the literature of our time. Amber Simmons argues that conventional approaches have starved the life out of web writing.

  • Better Writing Through Design

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    How is it that the very foundation of the web, written text, has taken a strategic back seat to design? Bronwyn Jones argues that great web design is not possible without the design of words.

  • Who Needs Headlines?

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    A designer formats and places text. Technically, the job ends there. But some designers go further, sharpening their clients’ content to grab and focus user attention. In so doing, they create more effective sites—and gain an advantage over other designers. Drawing on decades of copywriter lore, Shaun Crowley discusses seduction by headline and other principles of writing that sells.

  • Your About Page Is a Robot

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    Everyone has one. No one likes to talk about it. No, not that. It’s your About page, and it needs a little love. ALA’s Erin Kissane guides you through a beautiful journey of self-discovery.

  • Gentle Reader, Stay Awhile; I Will Be Faithful

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    Bloggers and copywriters take heed: it takes more than daily publication to build relationships. Amber Simmons provides advice on engaging readers and keeping them coming back.

  • Calling All Designers: Learn to Write!

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    You know all that copy that goes around your forms and in your confirmation e-mails? Who’s writing it? Derek Powazek explains why it’s important for user-interface designers to sharpen up their writing skills.

  • Attack of the Zombie Copy

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    You’ve seen them around the web, these zombie sentences. They’re not hard to recognize: syntax slack and drooling, clauses empty of everything but a terrible hunger for human brains. Here’s how to fight back.

  • A List Apart 4.0

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    From the crown of its cranium to the tips of its Ruby-slippered toes, A List Apart 4.0 is both old and new.

  • Helping Your Visitors: a State of Mind

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    Even the simplest website is harder to figure out than a catalog or magazine. We all know how to “use” a catalog: start at the front cover and keep turning the pages. But with every new site we visit, we have to “learn” how it works, how its “pages” turn, how to find what we’re looking for. Text that takes visitors’ needs into account can help guide them through the maze.

  • A Fairy, a Low-Fat Bagel, and a Sack of Hammers

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    Never underestimate the importance of words on the web.