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!