While WDS does not offer content writing services, we do create the framework for your site, including its design and functionality. To guide you in preparing the site's content, we offer the following recommendations for content planning and writing for the web.
We also encourage you to regularly review and update your site and its contents. We design sites for sustainability, allowing you to grow your site as needed. As you development your site, please ensure that it continues to meet the University Web Requirements and Accessibility Policy to provide inclusive access to Information Communication Technology (ICT), as guided by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 Level AA).
Content is an essential element of your website. Investing the time to think critically about the content will improve the user experience of your website.
When redesigning a website it is a good idea to get a handle on how much content you currently have. A content inventory is the first step. There are a few methods to go about doing an inventory. Each have their own pros and cons.
Using a spreadsheet, click on and log each page of your website. This can be time-consuming but it gives you the opportunity to make notes about each page. You may start with this Excel template.
Page Count Using Google
Using a Google search you can get an approximate idea of how many pages and pieces of content that your site has. It is not 100% accurate because it may calculate items that you don’t consider to be pages of content.
To do a Google search, enter your website's URL into the Google search box using this format site:wds.princeton.edu and then look at the number of results.
There are some online tools that will automatically generate a site map for you such as XML-Sitemaps. Sometimes they are quick but the output may require some further interpretation and or refinement. If you have any favorite site map tools, we'd love to hear about them!
Writing for the Web
Much research has been done on writing for the web. Here is a brief summary of the top things you need to consider:
- People often want the "nuts and bolts" information, not poetry.
You should write like a journalist, not an academic. Be brief! Consider using the inverted pyramid style of writing.
- People do not read websites.
They scan for information and ignore non-critical elements and distractions. You should use headings to break up sections of content and use the heading styles (not just the bold style) to make them stand out on the page.
- Place content where people expect it.
This means you should not be "cute" or "fancy." Place content in standard places used by most other websites.
- Make your content easy to find.
Use labels that have meaning to your audience and do not bury content under obscure headings or menus.
- Create content that is accessible to those with disabilities.
This is especially important if your site contains videos or content in files, such as PDFs and Word documents. See WebAIM.org for more information.
- Avoid the use of "click here" when creating links.
Instead, use 2-3 meaningful words when you create links within your text.
- Nielsen Norman Group - Writing for the Web Articles
- Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, by Steve Krug ISBN-13: 978-0321344755
- Letting Go of the Words, Second Edition: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies), by Janice (Ginny) Redish ISBN-13: 978-0123859303