Writing for the web has long been a passion of mine. I presented on it back at edUi in 2013, Nicole Capdarest-Arest and I created the course for Library Juice Academy and I’m currently writing a book related to the topic.
At Internet Librarian this week, I was thrilled to present on it alongside David Lee King. It was a lot of fun – we talked about why web writing matters, why we’re not so good at it, and how we can do it a bit better. Sadly our third panelist, Elaine Meyer, wasn’t able to attend at the last minute, but I think David did her justice in presenting her content.
Thanks for everyone who came out and participated. It’s cool to see so many people interested in creating better experiences through better content. I had a blast. Here’s my slide deck:
I love content strategy, as you may know, and at the heart of content strategy is good content. And at the heart of good content is good writing. Heck, most of the content that libraries provide is in the form of the written word.
Because of this, when I was invited to write another book for the Rowman & Littlefield Practical Guides series, I decided to write it on this topic. The working title is Writing for the User Experience. It’s going to be all about writing with the user in mind. We hear a lot about user-centered design. Now let’s dig into one of the hardest (but most important) pieces: user-centered writing. Most of the writing I’ve seen on library websites – and on education sites in general – is overly complicated, disorganized, and lacking of any personality. It’s getting better (shout out to MIT and Cal Poly especially), but still needs some serious attention.
I’ve been a fan of Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words for years, my first introduction to better writing for the web. A recent masterpiece on the topic is Ann Handley’s book Everybody Writes, which came out last year. Couldn’t put it down. It’s fantastic.
I’ve dabbled in the topic a lot over the past few years. I taught a course on writing for the web for Library Juice Academy with my former colleague Nicole Capdarest-Arest, and spoke at edUi back in 2013 on writing with users in mind. I’ve been working with our content strategist at the library to re-work all of our content, slowly making strides to improve the experience our users have with our written content.
My goal is to write something that’s practical for the librarian. I hope it leads to better content not just on our websites, but in all communication channels. Everywhere content touches the user experience (think: emails, web, brochures, posters, signage, social media). It’s going to be a fun book to write, and if all goes well the manuscript will be in next May and published in the fall. Wish me luck!
And in other news…. I published a book! It came out at the end of September and I’m hoping it will be useful for anyone who is interested in dabbling in usability testing for the first time or leveling up their skills. Whether you’re on a string budget with little staffing, or you have a larger web team that’s committed to improving the user experience, this should be a worthwhile read.
If it’s not already a go-to handbook on your book shelf, please check it out. Available for $55.79 on Amazon.
WordPress reminded me that I’ve been slacking on this blog, sorry about that…
It’s a bit late, but this is a presentation I gave along with our web content strategist, Shoshana Mayden, at edUi earlier in the fall:
EdUI – a great conference as always.
And some news: just last month, we were able to secure a permanent position. That’s right, our library now has a full-time content strategist! And it’s pretty fabulous. (She was previously on a one-year contract. A year of hard work proved how extremely valuable content strategy is to our organization).
Presentation I gave as part of the UX Unconference we organized at the UA Libraries early in December. This is a 20 minute version of the 4-week long class I teach for Library Juice Academy.
Yesterday, I presented a webinar sponsored by the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records. They organize professional development for library workers across the state. This was a great opportunity to share an overview of how to conduct usability testing easily and on a budget.
We had a few technical issues at the start, and some of my slides came out funky or incomplete, but other than that I think it went well.
Webinar recording (1 hour)
I was fortunate to attend edUi for the second time this year. Excellent conference that brings together leaders in user experience from the higher ed community. I presented twice – first with colleague from UNC Chapel Hill, Kim Vassiliaddis on bringing together stakeholders and leading staff during times of big changes:
I then presented with former colleague, Samantha Barry, on techniques for effective web writing: