What is the most difficult part of writing for the web? Is it breaking up content into manageable chunks? Optimizing for search? Ensuring that the page makes sense when readers reach it directly from a search engine or external link? What makes a "good" Web page?
Creating clear and effective content pages is one of the greatest challenges of Web writing. EERE's Communication Standards has a whole section devoted to Web Content Guidelines, and they cover a variety of topics including 508 Accessibility, links, maintenance, navigation labels, and search optimization.
And why is that important? Writing for the Web is different from writing for print. For those who want an exhaustive view of writing for the Web, at least in the EERE world, the Content Guidelines are the way to go. For those of you who just want some food for thought, here are tips and hints from Brian Lamb and Ginny Redish.
In Brian Lamb's presentation to the EERE Web community, he had a number of things to say about writing clear, concise content pages. According to him, it's about 40% harder to read online than it is in print. And because it's harder to read on the Web, you want to make your content short and easy to scan. To prove the importance of this, he used the SMOG tool, which approximates the reading level required to understand your site, and showed how content on EERE is often written to a higher reading level than the average person.
Ginny Redish, in her presentation to DOE, emphasized looking at content on a page-by-page basis. According to her, you should envision a scenario for each page and ask yourself what the user wants to know or do. Then design the page so it answers that. Make key messages stand out, and always start with the most important message at the top.
So what do you think? What does a "good" page look like? How would you measure the effectiveness of a "good" page? Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts, and check back occasionally to see what other people have said!