Monday, August 31, 2009

Web 2.0 Tips, Part 5: Keep It Simple

When writing in the Web 2.0 world—which is already fading into a new generation of messaging—go for simplicity, on both the language and format levels.

  • Remember people’s attention span. Readers are in and out of your website at lightning speed. They’d better be able to get your message quickly and memorably.
  • Think like a twitterbird. Twitter allows only 140 characters of text per entry. This restriction offers great practice opportunities to get real by beginning with and sticking to the most important point.
  • Use clear, active language. Avoid passive language, and if you’re not sure what that means, look it up. When communicating with your current and prospective clients, you’ll want to be readable, conversational, and personal.


  • Use scanning devices. Set your text in small, digestible chunks, separating sections by headings and bullet points to improve readability and highlight your ideas.
  • Link things. While you may not want to send people away from your webpage, you may want to send them to other parts of your own website. Linking them to ideas is your nonverbal way of extending the conversation. Of course, make those links useful
  • Use visuals. If videos, photos, or illustrations will help, then use them. Make sure they are functional—useful—not just decorative.
  • Offer interactive elements. So many of these are available online. For instance, you can allow for RSS feeds, comments, questionnaires, quizzes, contact links, and much more. Use whatever engages your readers and piques their interest in what you have to offer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Web 2.0 Tips, Part 4: Connect What You’ve Got to What They Need

You might have a good idea to post on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean the people you want to find it will. To maximize their chances of getting to your message, think about what you have to say from their perspective. Remember that they will search based on keywords of their own. Imagine what those keywords or phrases might be and finesse them into your text to ensure that their search engine will pick up your post. Here’s how:
  • Prefer keywords to cute editorial commentary in your headings—be specific to the need of the communities you are trying to reach.
  • Set up your advice, guideline, or insight with a timely, industry-specific overview.
  • Contextualize your most important points with language that your audience might find through a search.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Web 2.0 Tips, Part 3: Get There Quickly

Having noted some of the Web 2.0 resources and techniques in the previous two posts, I figure the next question would be, “How can I use them?”

The answer: Very quickly. I realize that most everyone thinks that the Internet already is laden with mindless chitchat, so why bother adding to the chaos? They miss the point, however, if they want to develop a business, cultivate client relationships, or generate ideas for their next project—provided they do so thoughtfully, which means unobtrusively and helpfully.

On the Internet, the moment’s news is the next moment’s antiquity, so novel ideas don’t last. Getting your inventive ideas immediately onto your website, blog, or tweet is key to maintaining a fresh Internet persona. Chances are that numerous hits about your writing topic are already in cyberspace. And if it is groundbreaking, its novelty will wear off fast than you can say “Web 1.0 – Web 2.0.” So the way to write for the web is voluminously and rapidly.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Web 2.0 Tips, Part 2: Talk the Talk

What good is talking about Web 2.0 if you don’t know the lingo that goes with it? Here are some simple definitions for the terminology that accompanies Web 2.0 technology.

blog, or, weblog : a web page composed of postings from hosts such as Blogger and WordPress

folksononomy: a spontaneous tagging system used by anyone categorizing web content on sites such as Facebook.

podcast: an audio blog, which can be downloaded to an BlackBerry, ipod, mp3 player, or similar device.

RSS, or, really simple syndication: a format for storing online information to make it available by a broad range of software.

SLATES: The acronym coined by MIT researcher Andrew McAfee as a mnemonic for Web 2.0 techniques, signifying Search (searching by keyword), Links (clicking hyperlinks), Authoring, (creating web content easily), Tags (classifying online content by labeling), Extensions (employing algorithms in making the Web a vast application center), and Signals (using technology like RSS in instantly announcing website changes).

social bookmarking: bookmarking on a website to post favorite websites.

social networking: sites such as Facebook, Linked In and My Space, which connect friends and colleagues by allowing registered users to share interests and skills.

tags: the practice of labeling website content to help users organize and retrieve information.

wiki: a collaboratively edited web page, such as those on Wikipedia.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Web 2.0 Tips, Part 1: Know the Territory

So much hype about Web 2.0, so little understanding! First off, we can argue until the hyperlinks circle to our homepage about what exactly Web 2.0 means. Any two definitions you can read on the Internet seem divergent and vague. (And why are we still capitalizing Internet—is it a sovereign territory, sea, or mountain range?)

Regardless of what we call Web 2.0, articles are appearing and courses are running on the topic, which has more to do with the diversity, interactivity, and pervasiveness (think DIP) of today’s available web tools:
  • Diversity – Users have numerous choices for putting information on the web: community spaces, such as Facebook, Linked In, My Space, Twitter, Wikipedia, and You Tube, as well as individual websites and blogs. The content users may launch also varies, from text and illustrations to photos and videos, or the user may just lay down hyperlinks to that content.
  • Interactivity – All of these sites offer visitors the chance to weave easily through multiple views and to contribute their own comments, images, animation, and hyperlinks.
  • Pervasiveness – Most Web 2.0ers seek a presence on many interlinked sites to expand their message and networking opportunities.

The next six installments of WORDS ON THE LINE will feature some tips to make the most of Web 2.0.