Presentations at Computers in Libraries 2015

I just got back from a full week of learning and sharing at Computers in Libraries. Great conference, as usual!

Here are links to the presentations I gave:

Enjoy!

Writing for the Mobile Web

Writing for the mobile web is a LOT like all those “writing for the web” articles you’ve probably seen before, but with more emphasis on scannability and engagement. Why?

Because writing for the mobile web has an audience mostly using smartphones. Three things apply here:

  1. You are writing for the small screen. So the ability to quickly scan content is HUGE.
  2. People are used to interacting with their smartphones. They “touch” Facebook and Twitter. They can comment, like, or share easily.
  3. People are easily distracted on smartphones. If your content doesn’t load fast, they’re gone. If it’s not engaging, they’re gone. If they don’t “get it” fast, they’re gone.

We have our jobs cut out for us, don’t we!

Here are some tips for writing for the mobile web (these also apply to writing for the general web):

Think short:

  • write short, to-the-point articles
  • edit, edit, edit – make every word count
  • Stick to one idea, topic, or goal per post

Create strong titles:

  • Make titles short. The BBC uses 5-6 words per title!
  • Front-load the title with appropriate words to make the point of the article clear and understandable out of context (i.e., for search engines)

Create actionable content:

  • Focus on the benefits of using the product or service, not the features. What’s in it for the reader?
  • Have a next step or call to action in each article. (i.e., check out this book, attend this program, etc.)
  • Always link to things you talk about (i.e., link to the catalog when mentioning books, etc.)
  • Frontload your content. The first paragraph of text should be stuffed with the most important content (think inverted pyramid).

Make content scannable:

  • No huge blocks of text – break up long paragraphs.
  • Break the rules and use fewer than 3 sentences per paragraph if needed. One sentence paragraphs are ok, if it looks correct on a mobile device!
  • Use headings, subheadings, lists and bullet points. These help make the content scannable.

Be conversational:

  • put your readers first. Speak to them, not at them. Use we and you.
  • Use informal, conversational writing. Blog posts are a conversation!
  • Ask questions, ask for a response.
  • Type like you talk. Read your content back to yourself. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d actually say, re-write it so it does.

Other articles:

What should be added here? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

photo by Robert Patton

Improve your Copywriting!

Smashing magazine logoWant to improve the writing on your library’s website? Check out Five Copywriting Errors That Can Ruin A Company’s Website by Smashing Magazine.

here are their five copywriting errors:

  1. Writing inwardly
  2. Burying the lead
  3. Mediocre meta material
  4. Saying too much
  5. Weak or no Calls to Action

Good stuff – go read it, then work on improving those copywriting skills!

Three Questions every webpage should answer – conclusion

Last week, I focused on three questions every webpage should answer. The questions were:

  1. What can I do here?
  2. What should I do next?
  3. Why should I care?
And now, I have a question for you. Are there other questions a website or an individual webpage should answer?
Said another way, what do your website visitors need to know … at a glance? And what’s the best way to provide this info?
Discuss in the comments please – thanks!

Three Questions every webpage should answer, #3: Why should I care?

Why Should I Care?

One more question every webpage should answer – #3: “Why should I care?”

This one comes from my library’s Executive Director, Gina Millsap. Another way to ask this question is “Why would I want to do that?” or “What’s in it for me?”

This is where your PR, marketing and promotion skills come into play. Why? Because you need to sell your content to your customers.

Selling? I hate selling – I’m a librarian, for peet’s sake!

Yep – I get that. But just putting information about something up on a website doesn’t mean people will attend that event, read that blog post, or check out that book. Sometimes we need to go a bit further, and work on convincing our customers to take those next actions I talked about in my last post.

The goal on a website is to move people from point A to point B – from reading a book review to actually checking out the book, for example. This isn’t selling as in “smarmy used-car salesman” selling … but it IS a form of selling, and a good organization learns to do this – on posters, in person, and even on our websites.

Answering “why” can be as simple as a brief explanation on why something is useful. For example – why should I apply for a library card? Because you get to read all your favorite books, and check out movies … for free! And you have already paid for it anyway (via taxes).

Look around your website, and see if you are answering the “why should I care” question. If not – rework your content so this question is answered up-front and often.