When I did my professional business writing courses (with Rob Rudigear from Melbourne), one of the key messages was that just because writing is ubiquitous, it doesn’t mean that everyone can write well. The same message holds true for writing and organising information on the web.
One of the weaknesses in writing for intranets and internets is that the content reflects more what the organisation (or writer) thinks needs to be said instead of what the clients or customers need to hear. Web readers want answers and they don’t want to be mucked around. Understanding the purpose of what you are doing and who the writing is for are critical issues when writing for the web.
But that’s not all. Web content management author, Gerry McGovern, highlighted the importance of networking information and people in a recent post in “New Thinking”: “The Web organization strives to be a hub, not an outpost. It actively seeks out and encourages others to link to it. The Web organization participates. It starts and contributes to conversations, and does not worry about who came up with the idea first”. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to those who know what a web actually is.
However, the web environment is often seen as just another communication channel to drop static print media through and hope for the best. Writing for the web is not the same as writing a brochure to be dropped into a letterbox – that’s just junk mail! The web is different. Interactivity is very Web 2.0 and 21st century, and even posters are in on the act!
Creating, designing and writing for interactive web content is going to become one of the real skills needed within organisations looking to engage readers and encourage participation – creating the important information and people network. Can your organisation afford not to do this well?