Monday, January 29, 2007

People Don’t Scroll, Help!

Studies by Jakob Nielsen also show that web-users don't scroll. They read the top part of an article and scroll only when they are very interested.

So it’s very important we write inverted pyramids on the web.
This is ‘starting with the conclusion.’

Telling your readers the main gist of your story within the first three sentences allows them to get the full story at one go.

And if they are keen, they will read on about the details and background. But the point is even if they don’t, they get the main information.

How To Make People Read On?

But in blogs, we do want people to read on. And sometimes it’s not possible to summarize everything in one paragraph.

So here are some tips by William Zinsser, one of the most respected writing gurus of our time:

- write short sentences
- prefer the simpler word: ‘I am confused’ is better ‘than I am flabbergasted’
- use the active rather than passive voice: ‘I read a letter’ is better than ‘this letter has been read by me’
- keep adjectives and adverbs to a minimum: they make sentences draggy
- use verbs instead: they push sentences along
- use specific words: ’15 men came to Ming Palace restaurant’ is more powerful than ’many people came to the restaurant’
- paint a picture: if your readers can see, smell, feel your writing, chances are they will stay on

While some people are born to write, it will be of comfort to know writing is a craft. It can be improved with practice, training, and even through imitating good writers.

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About Me

In the Old Testament in the Bible, there was a man named Jacob who "wrestled with God and man." He wouldn't let God go until God answered his prayers. God admired that and renamed him Israel, "the one who fought or wrestled and prevailed". He fought with man--his inner man--and conquered his own weaknesses. He's my hero. He is what I hope God and man see me to be.