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Writing for the Web

My presentation for the My Charity Connects conference which details how organizations can improve their web writing by keeping it short and simple.

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Writing for the Web

  1. 1. Keep it Short & Simple: Writing for the Web Lindsey Patten Synthesis Communications
  2. 2. About Me <ul><li>Graduated from the University of Windsor for Communications and Humber College in the Fundraising and Volunteer Management Program </li></ul><ul><li>Owner of Synthesis Communications, a company that helps nonprofits improve their communication tools </li></ul><ul><li>Runs a blog, Notes for Nonprofits, that offers communications and marketing advice to nonprofits </li></ul>
  3. 3. Presentation Objectives <ul><li>Old websites versus new </li></ul><ul><li>Biggest mistakes in web writing </li></ul><ul><li>First steps </li></ul><ul><li>Four key components of great web writing </li></ul><ul><li>Tips for every page of your site </li></ul><ul><li>Formatting for the web </li></ul><ul><li>The Web Composition Triangle </li></ul><ul><li>Do’s and Don’ts </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>No Cookie Cutter Writing! </li></ul><ul><li>Every website and organization is different! </li></ul>
  5. 5. Old Websites Versus New <ul><li>Old Website </li></ul><ul><li>Brochure </li></ul><ul><li>Purely Informational </li></ul><ul><li>Basic pages include Our Programs, About Us, etc. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Old Websites Versus New <ul><li>New Website </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive </li></ul><ul><li>Still Informational </li></ul>
  7. 7. Web Statistics <ul><li>So why is it important to be engaging? </li></ul><ul><li>Because on the web: </li></ul><ul><li>79% of users only scan the page </li></ul><ul><li>Whereas 16% read word by word </li></ul><ul><li>And on the average web page, users: </li></ul><ul><li>Read at most 28% of the text, however 20% is more likely </li></ul>
  8. 8. What Are The Biggest Mistakes in Web Writing? <ul><li>Copying a brochure/fact sheet to the web </li></ul><ul><li>Hiding bad content with good design </li></ul><ul><li>Boring copy </li></ul><ul><li>No clear message </li></ul><ul><li>No voice </li></ul><ul><li>Overdone Mission/Vision statements </li></ul>
  9. 9. First Steps <ul><li>How Do You Know Your Content Needs to Be Redone? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Google Analytics
  11. 11. Survey
  12. 12. First Steps <ul><li>Put that pen down! </li></ul><ul><li>First…. </li></ul>
  13. 13. First Steps <ul><li>What Are Your Goals? </li></ul>
  14. 14. What Are Your Goals? <ul><li>Receiving more donations </li></ul><ul><li>Getting volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>Getting a petition signed </li></ul><ul><li>Raising awareness </li></ul>
  15. 15. First Steps <ul><li>Who is Your Audience? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Who Is Your Audience?
  17. 17. Who Is Your Audience?
  18. 18. First Steps <ul><li>What Are You Trying to Achieve? </li></ul><ul><li>Only 43% of nonprofit sites studied answered this question on their homepage. </li></ul>
  19. 19. First Steps <ul><li>What Are You Doing With the Money? </li></ul><ul><li>Only 4% of nonprofit sites studied answered this question on their homepage. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Improving Web Writing <ul><li>Engage </li></ul><ul><li>Inform </li></ul><ul><li>Call to Action </li></ul><ul><li>Donor-Centric </li></ul>
  21. 21. Engage <ul><li>Your content must be engaging. You need to involve your reader, encourage them to learn more and help them become connected with the organization. </li></ul><ul><li>So How Do We Engage? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Engage <ul><li>Passion </li></ul><ul><li>Client Stories </li></ul><ul><li>Real Experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Human Touch </li></ul><ul><li>Remember, people give to people, not to organizations or websites. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Inform <ul><li>People visit a website for information. As an organization you want to provide the best information possible so the user is fully versed in what your organization is about. Good information sparks their interest and involvement. </li></ul><ul><li>What’s The Best Way To Inform? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Inform <ul><li>Clear and Concise </li></ul><ul><li>No Jargon </li></ul><ul><li>Highlight Successes </li></ul><ul><li>Fresh and Interesting </li></ul>
  25. 25. Call to Action <ul><li>Your call to action is extremely important. </li></ul><ul><li>This is what you want your audience to do whether it’s sign a petition, become a volunteer or make a donation. Your web content needs to be guided towards this end and your call to action should be strong and interesting. </li></ul><ul><li>What Makes A Good Call to Action? </li></ul>
  26. 26. Call to Action <ul><li>Compelling </li></ul><ul><li>Active Voice </li></ul><ul><li>Clear and Concise </li></ul><ul><li>Meaningful </li></ul>
  27. 27. Donor-Centric <ul><li>Your website isn’t all about you. </li></ul><ul><li>In order to be fully engaged, your donors/prospects need more than your program information. They need to understand what their role is in your organization. </li></ul><ul><li>How do you make your website donor-centric? </li></ul>
  28. 28. Donor-Centric <ul><li>Provide concrete examples about where their donations go </li></ul><ul><li>Language: You versus we </li></ul><ul><li>Showcase the rewards from donating/volunteering, etc </li></ul><ul><li>Say thank you </li></ul>
  29. 29. Tips-Home Page <ul><li>Share news </li></ul><ul><li>Share purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Say what you are doing with the money </li></ul><ul><li>Tell people where you want them to go </li></ul>
  30. 30. Tips-Programs <ul><li>Don’t mention every detail about your programs </li></ul><ul><li>List the top three points </li></ul><ul><li>Each program should be on a separate page </li></ul><ul><li>List statistics separately </li></ul><ul><li>Take a heart approach </li></ul><ul><li>Include client stories </li></ul>
  31. 31. Tips-About Us <ul><li>Don’t share a long history </li></ul><ul><li>Staff and Board Info, make it unique </li></ul><ul><li>Explain what you are doing with the money </li></ul><ul><li>Clear and concise mission and vision statements </li></ul>
  32. 32. Tips-Donate <ul><li>Note what they are donating to </li></ul><ul><li>Why should they donate </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging </li></ul><ul><li>Not passive </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to read </li></ul>
  33. 33. Choosing the Right Words <ul><li>Heart </li></ul>Give Care Choice Dedication Donor Success Ability Issue Identity Campaign Access Donate Crisis Event Help Client Growth Future Fundraise Diversity Interactive Role Opportunity Message Learn Knowledge Plan Power People Community News Step Society Skills Program Problem Tools Connection Support Volunteer Understanding Difference Membership Pledge Hope Gift Courage Accomplish Support Information You Prospect Dream Goal Good Achievement Join People Personal Proud Possible Respect Share Sponsor Spirit Story Time Tribute Youth Voice Wish Believe Love Journey Commitment Together
  34. 34. Formatting <ul><li>Create great headlines </li></ul><ul><li>Use bullet points </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid long paragraphs </li></ul><ul><li>Have lots of white space </li></ul><ul><li>Bold important info </li></ul><ul><li>Pull quotes out of text and display </li></ul><ul><li>Use sub-headings </li></ul><ul><li>Use links </li></ul>
  35. 35. The Web Composition Triangle
  36. 36. Search Engine Optimization What Is Search Engine Optimization?
  37. 37. Search Engine Optimization <ul><li>Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines. </li></ul><ul><li>Uses keywords and links to drive traffic to your site. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Search Engine Optimization Why Do We Need It?
  39. 39. Search Engine Optimization <ul><li>Keywords help your audience find you when they search </li></ul><ul><li>It’s important to use keywords not only on the main page but on every page </li></ul>
  40. 40. Search Engine Optimization How Do You Use It?
  41. 41. Search Engine Optimization <ul><li>Know your audience </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorm possible keywords </li></ul><ul><li>Do a Google search for your issue/field </li></ul><ul><li>Check out your competitors </li></ul><ul><li>Update frequently </li></ul>
  42. 42. Content Management What is Content Management?
  43. 43. Content Management Content management allows for dynamic content to be added in similar fashion to using a word processor or blogging software to quickly and easily add content.
  44. 44. Content Management Why Do We Need It?
  45. 45. Content Management <ul><li>Content becomes stale </li></ul><ul><li>Content is outdated </li></ul><ul><li>People want to learn new things about your organization </li></ul><ul><li>Fresh content means means fresh updates by search engines to enhance visibility </li></ul>
  46. 46. Navigation What is Navigation?
  47. 47. Navigation Navigation is how one travels through your website. Good navigation allows a visitor to receive the content they are looking for as quickly as possible.
  48. 48. Navigation How Does Good Navigation Improve Content?
  49. 49. Navigation <ul><li>Makes your content more streamlined and accessible </li></ul><ul><li>Allows audience to determine quickly and easily what information they are interested in </li></ul><ul><li>Provides a direction for your audience to travel </li></ul>
  50. 50. Tips for Sitting Down and Getting Started <ul><li>Gather your content </li></ul><ul><li>Assemble your statistics and ensure they are right </li></ul><ul><li>Have a brainstorming session </li></ul><ul><li>Write out your goals, message and voice </li></ul><ul><li>Assign one person to write the content </li></ul>
  51. 51. Do’s and Don’ts <ul><li>Do tell the truth </li></ul><ul><li>Do be passionate and engaging </li></ul><ul><li>Do know your limitations </li></ul><ul><li>Do have a good editor </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t tell the whole story </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be passive </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t get frustrated </li></ul>DO DON’T
  52. 52. Thank You <ul><li>Thank You! </li></ul><ul><li>http://notesfornonprofits.blogspot.com </li></ul><ul><li>www.synthesiscommunications.net </li></ul><ul><li>www.twitter.com/lindseypatten </li></ul>