Publishing & WordPress
Publishing your article in a content management system like WordPress implies that you can’t fully determine how your work looks on the screen of a possible reader. The layout, formats and styles are stipulated by the cms.
Nevertheless you can do a lot to present your work as nice and readable. Here a few basic recommendations for online publishers and their blog or news site.
Keep in mind that consuming printware is a quite different experience than gathering information on the web.
• Scannable information
Online readers are in search of something specific. They use search engines, follow interesting links and one way or another pass by your article. They will not read your article from beginning to end, but will “scan” it, to check whether it contains the information they are looking for.
The rule of thumb is that you have five to ten seconds to convince the reader to continue and delve into your full post.
Chunking is especially useful for material presented on screen. Chunking is a method of presenting information which splits concepts into small pieces or “chunks” of information to make reading and understanding faster and easier.
To improve the reader’s orientation chunked content usually contains short subheadings, short sentences, short paragraphs, even one-sentence paragraphs, and inline graphics or illustrated points to guide the eyes.
These different elements are clearly separated by white space.
• Web writing
Making your content scannable is one of the most critical formatting tasks required to achieve greater accessibility and a clean and legible layout of your content.
• • Title
Search engines and site indexes often don’t show anything but the clickable title (no subhead, no lead) and display only up to 8-16 words in their search engine result pages. Titles have to stand on their own as of a label for your article in the unlimited virtual library that is the Internet.
A perfect title is therefore important. It is the summary of or indicator to your content.
If you are providing a review, analysis or commentary on specific products, people, organizations, you may want to associate qualifying keywords in front of the product name.
Do not try to make the title “smart”, by using irony, word play or other “journalistic” approaches.
Three to six words is the ideal length. Ten words is pretty much the maximum limit.
Robin Good writes:
Go to the three major search engines and type the title(s) you would like to use.
c) relevance of the articles that come up when searching for your new potential title
Evaluate whether your title is good by looking at the type of content it brings up. In areas where there is a lack of content, little or no relevant content may come up, but in areas where there is already a significant amount of publicly available content, you will be able to see if there are already articles with similar or identical titles and how you could differentiate yourself from those.
Take your time: start with some title, evaluate it while writing and edit it till you’re satisfied.
• • Paragraphs
Make each concept, thought, reflection, argument, idea and/or opinion stand out on their own. They deserve their own paragraph instead of going up in very long blocks of text.
WordPress will separate paragraphs by one or more empty lines [white space]. Similarly to what is done in poetry, each concept and idea is given clear space to be read and understood.
Never have a period and then a new sentence starting on the next line. When sentences belong together let them flow after each other.
Keep paragraphs [chunks] as short as possible. Even one sentence paragraphs are allowed!
Say what you want to say. Don’t bother about widows, orphans or text needed to fill space to get a nice layout.
Use short sentences.
Initially, this way of writing may feel uncomfortable but you will see for yourself how nice it is to read content laid out in this way.
• • Subheadings
In order to facilitate readers to scan page contents, it is a great idea to use subheadings. Like titles they should be an indicator of the topic and of the following content. The title plus the subhead should cover the general outline of your story.
• • Enumerations
Bulleted or numbered lists are very useful when presenting a range of information. The list format surely will increase the readability. Items are shown as belonging together- as part of one topic.
• • Pictures
These are important chunks! People prefer viewing to reading, picture to text. They scan the pictures before they start reading. So ensure that the pictures be closely related to your article.
In relation to the reader’s orientation, it’s better to use smaller pictures instead of one big one. On screen pictures are a lot smaller when compared to pictures in papers and magazines. Don’t let your subject disappear into their surroundings or background. Use close-ups or a nicely cropped image.
Challenge yourself by trying to tell your story in pictures with some necessary text added.
• • Links
Differently colored hyperlinks draw attention and show your connection with the World Wide Web.
Links increase the power of your story. They show how your information connects with the world wide web.
• • Streamers
If allowed by the site’s template, the use of streamers or banners makes the page easier to scan. They are also nice visual attention-getters combined with content.
If streamers are not allowed by the template just use nice pictures of text.
• • Overview
If your article is long, consider a table of contents or an outline. This gives the reader the opportunity to scan without scrolling.
The menu at the cms front side is built out of used categories. A reader, once she arrives at the website, follows her intuition when using the menu.
Enable your article be found at the right place by using the right category[s]. Yes, using more than one is allowed as long as it fits your topic(s).
Label the content with a number of relevant[!] keywords.