Keep it simple

I’m a big fan of plain English on websites for a wide variety of reasons, most of which boil down to reaching the widest audience possible. While there are of course instances where more flowery language is appropriate, communicating important information is not usually one of them.

So if there’s an easier way to say something, use it. And this is what went through my mind as I was browsing the Climate Action website today, when I saw its strapline:

Assisting business towards carbon neutrality

As the platform is produced in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), I think it’s fair to assume the target audience is at least Europe-wide. The majority of those people will speak English as a second language.

Even though English is my native language, I still need a split second to unravel the meaning, which isn’t ideal. In addition, the wording has a distinct whiff of ‘corporate speak’. I think the following is clearer while …

Read More

Fix-It Friday (No. 3): Energy Institute

Fix-It Friday is a series of posts where I show how a website page can be improved by applying a few web copywriting principles. My primary aim is to make visitors’ lives easier.

Within just an hour, it’s possible to make a page more readable, accessible and search friendly. I also explain what else I’d do if I had more time. Look at the difference a web copywriter can make!

The Energy Institute (EI) is the professional body for the energy industry. It develops and shares knowledge, skills and good practice, while supporting over 14,000 individuals and 300 companies across 100 countries.

The EI website looks great — modern, fresh, professional and easy to navigate. I’m going to look at its ‘About us’ page from a web copywriting perspective.

Web page before (image) Good points Could do better Web page after (image) Fixes made in one hour If I had more than an hour, I’d…

Web page before

(Click on the image for a …

Read More

Fix-It Friday (No. 2): World Economic Forum

Fix-It Friday is a new series of posts where I show how a website page can be improved by applying a few web copywriting principles. My primary aim is to make visitors’ lives easier.

Within just an hour, it’s possible to make a page more readable, accessible and search friendly. I also explain what else I’d do if I had more time. Look at the difference a web copywriter can make!

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an independent, not-for-profit and international organisation. Its aim is to improve ‘the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas’.

I’m going to look at the WEF’s ‘Social media: Twitter’ page from a web copywriting perspective.

Web page before (image) Good points Could do better Web page after (image) Fixes made in one hour If I had more than an hour, I’d…

Web page before

(Click on the image for a larger version.) Read More

Fix-It Friday (No. 1): Dulas

Fix-It Friday is a new series of posts where I show how a website page can be improved by applying a few web copywriting principles. My primary aim is to make visitors’ lives easier.

Within just an hour, it’s possible to make a page more readable, accessible and search friendly. I also explain what else I’d do if I had more time. Look at the difference a web copywriter can make!

Dulas provides professional renewable energy services from its base in the heart of Wales. I like its website; the design’s fresh, modern and uncluttered, with clear navigation.

I’ve decided to look at the ‘About Dulas’ page from a web copywriting perspective.

Web page before (image) Good points Could do better Web page after (image) Fixes made in one hour If I had more than an hour, I’d…

Web page before

(Click on the image for a larger version.)

Good points

Individual <title> and <description> …

Read More

Online style guides

Any organisation that produces printed publications understands the importance of an editorial style guide. So it stands to reason that a separate style guide for your websites, intranet sites and e-newsletters is important too.

When creating an online style guide, the differences between online and offline communications and how content is generated should be taken into consideration.

In many instances, a network of administrators (not always professional communicators) add information onto a website via a content management system (CMS). They might not be very knowledgable about the best ways to write for a website, or sure of what information to include.

An online style guide can help to define some of the basic rules for writing for the web, such as the right language to use online, how to structure the content to make it easier to read, or even what fonts and colours to use.

It also serves many of the same purposes as a style guide for printed publications. For example, it helps to make sure that all websites have a consistent tone of voice, and that spellings …

Read More