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Seeing Content as Conversation

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Content Strategist Ginny Redish shares her views about web content as conversation with Lou Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Media, a publisher of literature and webinars on user experience design.

Citing from her webinar, Redish explains how online content should be viewed as a conversation started by the site visitor. She discusses the importance of headings and keeping the conversation from being one-sided. Below are some highlights from the interview.

Read the entire interview here.  

Four helpful guidelines from Redish’s webinar “Content as Conversation”:

  1. Don’t hog the conversation. If you write dense paragraphs of text and web content that goes on and on without breaks, you are hogging the conversation. You are saying “listen to me, listen to me, don’t interrupt me.” Many readers will give up. When I do usability testing, dense paragraphs often cause my participants to start saying, “yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah,” and then stop reading.
  2. Take turns. Successful conversations allow each person to take a turn. In web content, headings are the site visitor’s turns in the conversation. That’s why good web pages break the information with well-written headings. And that’s why questions make wonderful headings for many types of web content.
  3. Market when the site visitor is ready for it. On paper, you start the conversation; so you can put your marketing messages right in front of people. On web sites, site visitors come very focused on their needs, their conversation. You have to satisfy that conversation before your site visitors are ready to hear marketing messages that are not directly related to their need.
  4. Respect your site visitors’ time. On the web, there’s always another web site, somewhere else to go, something else to do. Writing with simple, common words in short, straightforward sentences or bulleted lists or even fragments helps all of us grasp the information. We all read simple, short, common words quickly and easily; and high-literacy readers are often the busiest and least patient of your site visitors. Writing plain English is a way to respect your busy site visitors’ time.

Written by uclaportal

February 16, 2010 at 5:04 pm

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