The Manchester Community College website is the electronic gateway to the college – its people, its programs and its services. Primarily serving current and prospective students, its goal is to complement the information and experience offered by the college on-ground with the same quality, accuracy and timeliness. The website is committed to supporting the college’s promise of access, excellence and relevance
On the web, people are in a hurry. They skim and scan, looking for fast answers to their questions, so it’s important to get to the point – quickly! These guidelines for writing and managing web content will help.
- Know your audience; what does he/she want to know.
- Educate your audience.
- Less is more – minimize words in sentences, sentences in paragraphs.
- Eliminate unnecessary words.
- Use conversational pronouns (you, us, our, we).
- Write as if you were talking to a colleague or a friend.
- Use an active voice with strong verbs.
- Word Choice
- Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, jargon and internal language.
- Use the same words your readers use.
- Write for your audience, not the experts.
- Use simple, descriptive section headings.
- Keep paragraphs short.
- Use ordinary, familiar words – nothing fancy.
- Use small and descriptive phrases instead of “click here”.
- Include key words to help search engines.
- Put most important information first, followed by the details.
- Naturally sequence content.
- Group related elements.
- Improve Task Completion
- Organize content around your audience’s tasks and thought processes, not your department’s work flow.
- Make tasks easy to complete.
- Highlight action items/steps (step 1, step 2, etc.).
- Scan Ability
- Separate content into small chunks.
- In general, write no more than five to seven lines per paragraph.
- Use lists and bullets when possible.
- Separate Topics
- Present each unique topic separately; one topic per page.
- Limit the information on each page to three (or fewer) l
- Don’t assume your audience already knows the subject or has read related pages; use content as an opportunity to educate.
- Each page should stand on its own.
- Put everything in context.
- Test and Evaluate
- Test web pages with actual audience members to be sure they understand what you’ve written.
- Support the Mission – Make Content:
- Up to date
- Easy to find
- Effectively Manage
- Regularly audit.
- Prioritize and schedule updates.
Letting Go of the Words, Writing Web Content that Works, Janice Redish, 2007.
Content Strategy for the Web, Kristina Halvorson, 2010.
7 Best Practices for Improving Your Website’s Usability, Jacob Gube, September 12, 2011.
Building and Managing Websites, United States Department of Health and Human Services.