The Writing Process
Before you begin to write the content for your webpages, it is important to know what you want to say, how you are going to say it and to whom you are going to say it.
To help you achieve these goals, follow the points listed below:
Be Organised and Systematic
Being organised and systematic will hopefully make the writing process easier and allow you to produce some good content. Here are a few things you can do to help:
- Keep a copy of the Macquarie Dictionary, the Australian Government's Style Manual, The Elements of Style on your desk
- Find a quiet area away from your email and phone
- Set aside a block of time for writing (e.g. 2 hours on a Friday morning)
- Remember to make a note of the aim and the audience at the top of the page as a reminder
Be Aware of Your Webpage Size and Shape
If you are using a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, to draft your website content, remember that the size of the page you're writing on is much larger than the space available for your webpage content. It would therefore be a good idea to:
- narrow the margins of your Word document
- use a similar font size and style as your website (Verdana, size 9)
- identify the point on the screen at which the user will have to start scrolling to read your content - and try and keep above it!
Know Your Target Audience
It is important that your content is simple enough for your users to understand. For example, if you don't think people visiting your site will know much about your faculty or area, then it's best to avoid using abbreviations or jargon.
To help you think about who your target audience is, complete the audience characteristics form.
Know Your Aims
The aim of your website and the needs of the audience will help decide format, so think about what you want to achieve from the website. Do you want it:
- to provide information?
- to provide details about the faculty, school, research institute etc.?
- to generate new students?
- to educate?
Choose Your Format
One or more of these formats may be appropriate, depending on your aims and audience(s):
- sentences and paragraphs
- lists – bullets, numbered
- step-by-step instructions
- frequently asked questions
Working with Existing Content
A lot of information on websites is taken directly from other documents such as meeting minutes, annual reports, conference speeches etc. without being edited or re-written first. As such, this content may not make any sense to people visiting your website.
It may be a good exercise to re-read your existing content from the point of view of your target audience and then edit the content to make it easier to understand.
Note: Text such as legislation must not be edited. Instead it should be set within quotation marks.