Why Do We Need Web Writing Guidelines?|
We need Web writing guidelines to understand why and how we need to change the way we write for the Web.
Leaving all design, layout and navigation issues aside - simply re-writing content to suit the needs of the Web can increase usability by 124 - 159%.
Content vs Design
The Web was designed and 'built' by scientists, technicians, and software developers. By the mid-late 1990s, graphic designers and software usability experts were involved.
Printed documents were converted into HTML and moved to the Web without considering the new medium. The usability experts told us we should concentrate on design, layout, and navigation.
Then the experts admitted they were wrong.
Jakob Nielsen, probably the leading expert in the field of Web usability, admits that his focus changed from design, layout, and navigation to Web-specific content issues as far back as 1996-97:
"Whenever I had users in the lab for usability tests, I found they were highly focused on the articles or other content on the site. Users were very concerned with whether the content was something they liked, something they thought was useful. That was what they kept commenting on - not the design, layout or navigation. In other words, all the things we were trying to test!"
Interview with Contentious Magazine, 14 August 1998.
Web Writing vs Print Writing
Repurposing Print Documents for the Web