Posts Tagged ‘web content’
Dogspired is a popular blog that was launched in 2009 by two entrepreneurial friends in the D.C. area. Their goal was to build an online community around a popular (and growing) subject — dogs. Eager for original stories, they put an ad on Craigslist that said simply, “Dog Blog Writers Wanted.”
When I saw the ad I was a technical writer living with three dogs. Without really knowing what a blog was, or how much it might pay to write for one, it seemed like a dream come true. I answered the ad with a big pitch for my years of writing and editing experience, as well as my years as an animal advocate.
I didn’t know there was a name for the type of web content I’ve been writing. It isn’t pages of content, it’s the little bits of text in the user interface (UI) of a website. I did some searching around to see if I could find a word that defined it, and finally came across the word “microcopy,” or writing for the web. That was exactly it.
Microcopy is the language of user interfaces. It is the small amounts of copy that helps users understand the features of a website. In a very limited space, microcopy describes with precision what each screen element is for and what each action means. When microcopy does its job, it is instructional, reassuring, and most of all, human.
Currently, I’m writing the microcopy for an investment crowdfunding website. I just finished one kind of micrcopy: the mouseover text for buttons, radio buttons, checkboxes, and field names in forms. The space for writing it was confined to at most a sentence or two, a phrase, a few words, or sometimes just a single word. I tried to make it friendly, instructive, and easy-to-understand, including enough detail so users would know exactly what to do, but not so much detail that the information was difficult to process.
Since UI text and design work together to produce good microcopy, I tried to figure out where and how the text would do the most good. On a button, above a button, under a group of options. I wanted a user’s experience with the site to be a positive one.
I read something the other day that went like this: “Being human is the new black.” I think it’s true. With all of the social experience we’re sharing online these days, communicating in a human way is almost the expectation.
This human-like approach made me think of Siri, the human-like voice that came with my new iPhone. Siri tries to answer whatever question I might have. Before she responds, she considers my voice query with a thoughtful phrase, such as “Let me check on that” or “Let me think about that”–something to give me confidence. If she can’t dig up an answer, Siri admits it by saying, “I can’t answer that,” and then dumps me into my browser so I can do my own searching. Technically, I know she’s relying on a huge database to help me out, but her friendly tone doesn’t give that away, and I appreciate the effort.
I just created the website for my new company, Working Words. The domain name is myworkingwords.com. The tagline for the company is Words that work for you. Working Words offers compelling content for websites and blogs, readable technical documentation, and resumes for all professions.
Here are some highlights of my site:
Welcome – You have a website that needs some compelling content, or you have a new product and need documentation to go along with it, or maybe you need a resume for an upcoming interview. If you hire me for any of these projects, I will make sure the text is tight and just right.
This article comes from a discussion on Linkedin. I wanted to add and share it on my blog, as it has important information about what I already do and should look forward to doing as a web content writer myself.
Writing for the Web
Writing for the web is unlike any other kind of writing. Whether you’re an author or a marketer, knowing how to write good web copy is a valuable skill. Besides the basic principles of good writing, two things make online content “good”: how easy it is to find and how well it persuades readers to take a desired action. Use the following ideas to improve your web writing skills.