Monday, October 31, 2005

What does it mean for writing to be user-centered?

Web writing often contains far too many instances of "I" and "we" and far too few of "you." Bryan Eisenberg has developed the fabulous, free We We Customer Focus Calculator that indicates how much of your site focuses on the customer vs. on yourself.

People come to a site to get information that they can learn from, identify with, and hopefully put to good use for themselves. "Do I want to work for this company?" "Do I want to buy this product?" "Do I want to participate in this program?" "Do I want to join this association?"

User-centered content addresses the reader's needs, not those of the person or organization generating the content.

To ensure that your content is user-centered:
  • Make sure it answers the question "so what?"
  • Focus not on the features your product offers, but what benefits the customer will enjoy as a result of those features

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Developing a strategy for using multimedia on a website

Should we use multimedia on our site? Sounds like a pretty straightforward question, but in actuality it is anything but.

What do we mean by "multimedia," anyway? (After some thought and discussion, we narrowed it down to audio files, video files and presentations.)

If we decide to use it, where and when is it appropriate, and what should the guidelines be for how large the multimedia files can be and how long they should stay on the site?

Should we set up the files to download or stream? What file types should we accept?

I've asked members of other organizations' Web teams what their policies are, and no one has been willing to share them, since they insist that it depends on the nature of the content and the tech savviness of the audiences. But how can we develop industry standards, and influence what our audiences expect and are willing to watch/download, if we don't share information?

I look forward to learning more over time.