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Words - part 1

Choosing the Right Words

The art of writing is not dead. If you produce a website, you will have to do probably more writing than in a long time.

Elsewhere in this course, we will cover how good layout and relevant content can catch people's attention. However, once that is done, how you write the actual content is crucial.

What you write should:

  • attract
  • interest and
  • enthuse the reader

Stodgy prose, dodgy spelling and bodgy grammar will soon have them clicking away from your website.

People scan websites just like they dip into the newspapers, so let's take the lead from journalists who write news stories with the six Ws in mind:
  1. Who? Who was involved?
  2. What? What happened (what's the story)?
  3. Where? Where did it take place?
  4. When? When did it take place?
  5. Why? Why did it happen?
  6. How? How did it happen? Yes that's a cheat.

This simple approach works well for the web. The important aspects of a story are covered. You cannot answer any of these with yes or no, but have to start to flesh out the report.

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.  - Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith


Newspapers, magazines and probably the best websites - (e.g. the BBC or the Times) have style guides. That might be going too far but at least agree on how you refer to the club -the initials HGSMC may mean something to the old hands in the club but does it mean anything to anyone else? At least be consistent and stick with one description. Are you:

  • The Anytown Film-makers
  • Anytown FilmMakers
  • The Anytown-Film-Makers
  • AFM
  • TAFM

If regular contributors follow the rules, that is great, but be ready to go through all contributions to adapt them to the "house style".

Write in an including style. An excluding style suggests the site is entirely for club insiders, is filled with 'in-jokes' and references significant to the 'in-crowd' but incomprehensible to outsiders. This is a relic from newsletters, read only by the members. Now anyone in the world can read your site and they will find these in-jokes irrelevant and off-putting.

Hook your readers

The order in which you answer the questions can be varied. Whenever possible begin with a sentence that catches the reader's attention. For example:

"Magpies snatch top trophies. The two beady-eyed stars of Moody Magpies won for local film maker Chris Smith, both the best film and best wildlife trophies on Saturday …"

If possible, keep your sentences short. Make positive statements. Don't be too fancy. Say: "Thanks to the mince-pie makers" and not "The makers of the mince-pies are to be thanked" or the even worse "We would like to thank the makers of the mince-pies." Readers cry: "Why don't you do it then?"

Your aim is to tell your readers something, not to drown them with words. 99% of what's there should be short, sharp and clear. Write casually. Use didn't and can't. Try to sound friendly rather than formal. Keep sentences short. Make positive statements. Use short words

Blocks of text have a design impact. Before finalising a layout, squint at it so that paragraphs become blocks of grey. Consider the page as an abstract painting of colour blocks. If the text blocks dominate or unbalance the page, break them into shorter paragraphs or insert relevant images.

The wastebasket is a writer's best friend. - Isaac Bashevis Singer

Go to Words part 2 Right arrow.

Website Makeover Guides - Introduction

What Should the Content Be? | Navigation | Planning Navigation | Anchors & Links | Words | Getting Pictures | Getting & Using Pictures
Processing Pictures | Video | Presentation Pictures | Colours | Layout Principles | Layout Schemes | Fonts | What is SEO?
Search Engine Factors | Check Your Search Ranking | Stay Legal | Website Health Check | Website No Goes more to come ...

A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Club Website with Weebly

Don't Panic! | Signing up to Weebly | Making your first (elegant) page | Adding more pages and navigation
Adding pictures and words | Creating a complex Coming Soon Page | Adding Forms, Emails, Maps and Videos.

IAC Competition to find the Best Club Website 2011

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Page updated on 16 January 2011
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