Write It Assuming the Visitors

Janice Redish is an American usability writer and consultant and there is one of her books named Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works. According to her, creators of Websites, mobile apps, and social media have to think of the content as conversation. That is to say, the important thing to make what we call good digital media is the assumption of visitors. When it comes to visitors, there are not only the returning visitors who already know about the page but also new visitors don’t know what is where. It is crucial to think of both of them when building new platforms and know that they could interpret the content all differently.

To understand the audiences, she gives us seven steps in the chapter 2 as follows:

1. List your major audiences.Ginny_11
2. Gather information about your audiences.
3. List major characteristics for each audiences.
4. Gather your audiences’ question, tasks, and stories.
5. Use your information to create personas.
6. Include the persona’s goals and tasks.
7. Use your information to write scenarios for your site.

The first four lists are all about audiences. You can see how important to focus on them for successful writers. What they have to care about is audiences’ experience, emotions, values,technology, social and cultural environments, demographics, and so on. Moreover, she mentions the importance of the personas, which is particular in digital contents. Personas work in making people members of your web team and sites more conversational. At last, she asserts that scenarios can help to write good web content. As you plan your Website, always ask: Who will use it?

In chapter 3, she basically talks about how the home page works. A good homepage makes it instantly clear what the site is about. As she insists, I think it’s important to assume that people who visit sites might not have full screen at high resolution. It tends to be overlooked. Moreover, where you put the Search box could affect on visitors’ reaction. Truly, the Search box is located at the top right or left of the page when I come up with most Websites I have visited before. Personally, If I want information and can’t find the Search box in a site, I will look for it by scrolling down. In terms of usability, however, putting it on the top is kind to everyone and it’s better to be there. Now that I got the useful information, the Search box of my blog is located at the top of the left column, so if you look for any materials in this site, you can search it!

Indeed, it seems difficult to build user-friendly sites with giving it individuality. But there is a significant difference between knowing things mentioned above or not.

Discussion Question:
1. The author insists there is no need to mention what the site is for and when it was founded at the top of homepage with paragraph. However, I have seen lots of sites to do that. I understand audiences don’t care about it but doesn’t it make a big difference on the site?
2. For pople managing their sites personally not for their works, how can they understand the audiences? I think it seems difficult to assume the age group or the occupation.

related stories:
Redish & Associates Inc. (The author’s web page)
42 Timeless Ideas for Attracting More Visitors to Your Website


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